UMMS Affiliation

Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Military and Veterans Studies | Psychiatry and Psychology


BACKGROUND: Numerous programs exist to support veterans in their transitions to civilian life. Programs are offered by a host of governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. Veterans report encountering many barriers to program participation. This study identified barrier reduction strategies offered by programs that new post-9/11 veterans reported using, determined which strategies veterans use and value, and examined veteran characteristics that impact their odds of using programs that offer barrier reduction strategies.

METHOD: This study reflects findings from the first wave of data collection of The Veterans Metrics Initiative (TVMI), a longitudinal study examining the military-to-civilian reintegration of new post-9/11 veterans. The websites of programs used by respondents were coded for barrier reduction components. Veterans also indicated which barrier reduction components they found most helpful in meeting their reintegration goals.

RESULTS: Of 9566 veterans who participated in Wave 1 data collection, 84% reported using a program that offered at least one barrier reduction component. Barrier reduction components included tangible supports (e.g., scholarships, cash), increased access to programs, decreased stigma, and encouraged motivation to change. Although only 4% of programs that were used by veterans focused on helping them obtain Veterans Administration benefits, nearly 60% of veterans reported that this component was helpful in reaching their goals. Access assistance to other resources and supports was also reported as a helpful barrier reduction component. For instance, approximately 20% of veterans nominated programs that offered transportation. The study also found evidence of a misalignment between the kinds of barrier reduction components veterans valued and those which programs offered. Veterans from the most junior enlisted ranks, who are at most risk, were less likely than those from other ranks to use barrier reduction components. Study limitations and ideas for future research are discussed.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the evidence that barrier reduction components enhance access to programs and contribute to program sustainability, many programs used by post-9/11 veterans do not offer them. There was also a misalignment between the barrier reduction strategies that veterans value and the strategies offered by programs. Veteran serving organizations should increasingly implement barrier reduction strategies valued by veterans.


Barrier reduction, Help-seeking stigma, Mental health stigma, Program reach, Program sustainability, Veteran reintegration, Veterans

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

DOI of Published Version



Morgan NR, Aronson KR, Perkins DF, Bleser JA, Davenport K, Vogt D, Copeland LA, Finley EP, Gilman CL. Reducing barriers to post-9/11 veterans' use of programs and services as they transition to civilian life. BMC Health Serv Res. 2020 Jun 10;20(1):525. doi: 10.1186/s12913-020-05320-4. PMID: 32522186; PMCID: PMC7285557. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC health services research

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.