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USC Study Finds Veterans Returning To LA County Unprepared For Civilian Life

LOS ANGELES ( — A majority of veterans who leave the military and return to Los Angeles County are unprepared for the transition to civilian life, according to a USC study released Tuesday.

"The State of the American Veteran: The Los Angeles County Veterans Study" surveyed more than 1,350 veterans, along with follow-up focus groups including dozens of veterans, all conducted by the USC School of Social Work.

The study found that 40 percent of veterans were unsure of where they would live when they left the military. Nearly 80 percent left the military without a job, but expected to find work quickly.

"The main thing we learned with this study is that separating serving members leave the military, and they enter civilian communities with a myriad of issues," said Carl Castro, lead author of the study and assistant professor at the USC School of Social Work. "There is not a singular need. No one says, 'I just need a job' or 'I just need housing.' Similarly, we have to take a multiple, holistic approach to helping veterans transition."

More than two-thirds said they had difficulties adjusting to civilian life, while 69 percent of post-9/11 veterans said they needed time to decide what they would do after their military service. Post-9/11 veterans also had high percentages of mental and physical issues.

The study also found 60 percent of the veterans surveyed said they needed help securing employment, education and Veterans Affairs benefits.

The study recommended an expansion of the military transition program, with a focus on ensuring veterans have jobs and housing lined up.

"With this data, we will design improved initiatives to do more to reduce unemployment, homelessness and other transition challenges," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "As a Navy reservist, it's especially important to me that those who wear our nation's uniform are fully supported when they come home."

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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