Military service is a transformative experience that leaves an indelible mark on all who serve. Once separated from the military way of life, many veterans find that they yearn for the structure, camaraderie, and discipline they experienced while in the military. These feelings of attachment to the military can make the transition back to civilian life difficult and pose a barrier to success in a civilian workplace. As military service members separate from their military service obligation and transition to the civilian workforce, they experience numerous challenges leaving behind the culture of the military and adapting to the civilian way of life. The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of junior enlisted Marine Corps veterans as they address their feelings of attachment and transition out of the military and into the civilian workforce. The term junior enlisted commonly refers to Marines that hold the rank of E-1 through E-3; however, for the purpose of this study, it refers to military members (rank E-5 and below) that served one to two active duty enlistment terms (four to eight years). This study focused on the veterans’ feelings of attachment to the military way of life as they transitioned to the civilian workforce and how these feelings of attachment impact veterans’ behaviors during the transition period. This research was based on two theoretical foundations found in the literature, Attachment Theory and Transition Theory, as they impact veterans transitioning out of the military and into the civilian workforce. Qualitative interviews with former military service members were conducted to collect data and information on their individual personal experiences. This study explains the intersection of veterans’ struggles with both transition and feelings of attachment to the military lifestyle so that the military, veterans, and civilian employers can develop strategies to ease the transitions of the current generation of warriors back to civilian life and foster success in the workplace.

Date of publication

Spring 5-5-2018

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Jerry Gilley, Ed.D.; Ann Gilley, Ph.D.; Judy Sun, Ph.D.


Doctor of Philosophy in Human Resource Development