Military, Veterans, & Society

Within Military, Veterans, & Society

In the era of the All-Volunteer Force, the military has so far largely been able to maintain relatively high standards for who will be accepted while still recruiting enough personnel to meet manpower needs, though troubling signs indicate this may not remain true moving forward. Servicemembers enter the military with both risk and protective factors for how they will fare both during and after their military service. While serving – which the majority do for only a few years – they may experience a variety of exposures while also benefitting from a variety of support structures, formal and informal. After transitioning back into civilian life, a process many find challenging, veterans are often eligible for an array of benefits from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Despite the outpouring of support shown to military personnel, veterans, and their families, however, many express concern about a growing civil-military divide in which society at large does not understand their experiences. This may, in turn, affect the propensity for the next generation to serve. Throughout these time frames, there are issues that the federal government can directly affect, while others are beyond the scope of government intervention. Crucially, there is a complex interplay of pre-service, in-service, and post-service experiences that should be considered.

The CNAS Military, Veterans, and Society program therefore addresses issues facing America’s service members, veterans, and military families throughout this life cycle. Emphasis areas include the future of the All-Volunteer Force, trends within the veteran community, and civil-military relations. The program produces high-impact research that informs and inspires strategic action; convenes stakeholders and hosts top-quality public and private events to shape the national conversation; and engages policymakers, industry leaders, Congress, scholars, the media, and the public about challenges and opportunities for veterans and the military community.

Learn more about the CNAS Military, Veterans and Society Program's new "Supporting the Military Community" commentary series.


CNAS has published reports and commentaries in previous years including comprehensive looks at the future of the all-volunteer force and the propensity of youth from military families to serve, examinations of the role of ROTC, assessments of military suicide, and updates on the status of incorporating women into combat arms.

Moving forward, MVS is particularly interested in researching how the military can increase propensity to serve, enhance recruiting, improve retention, and optimize support to servicemembers and their families in a changing landscape, with an emphasis on traditionally under-targeted populations.


CNAS has led the way in producing cutting-edge research on challenges facing veterans, including a series of local, state, and regional veteran needs assessments, reports on veteran employment, and analyses of the federal, philanthropic and collaborative “sea of goodwill” that exists to support veterans.

To expand on this solid foundation, MVS will also assess city and state level support for veterans, delve more deeply into disparate needs minority veterans may experience, and explore cutting edge opportunities for enhancing veterans overall economic outcomes.


CNAS has hosted a number of events on the civ-mil divide and published reports on topics including the effects of that divide on veteran employment.

Looking ahead, MVS plans to continue delving into the civ-mil divide and the role the humanities may play in bridging that divide. In addition, MVS is interested in researching the extent to which domestic policy decisions that affect many segments of US society may be becoming national security threats by shrinking the pool of eligible recruits from which the force of the future will be drawn.

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Research Team

  • Kayla M. Williams

    Senior Fellow and Director, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

  • Emma Moore

    Research Associate, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

  • Nathalie Grogan

    Research Assistant, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

  • Jason Dempsey

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

  • Dr. Jeannette Gaudry Haynie

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

  • Dr. Kyleanne Hunter

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Military, Veterans, and Society Program

  • ​Jim Golby

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Military, Veterans, and Society Program, Clements Center for National Security, The University of Texas at Austin

  • Elizabeth Howe

    Research Contractor, Military, Veterans, and Society Program