Press Release

President Bush Urges Collaboration to Improve Post-9/11 Veteran Transitions

Announces veteran leadership program at Bush Institute event in Washington with VA Secretary Shulkin

Washington, D.C.  — President George W. Bush today in Washington, D.C. encouraged government, corporations, and nonprofit organizations to work together to improve transitions for post-9/11 veterans. His remarks came at the Bush Institute’s Stand-To, a national veterans convening, which also featured a conversation with U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and remarks by Mrs. Laura Bush.

For the first time, more than 70 organizations across sectors came together at the event to outline priorities on veteran health and wellbeing, education, and employment, and make policy recommendations to drive improved outcomes for veterans and their families.

“We are a fortunate nation to have millions volunteer in the face of danger. Our vets are a tremendous national asset. But the question is, how can we help them?” said President Bush. “I am confident the work we are doing here today will really make a big difference. That is why it is important to take the work seriously and come up with recommendations and action plans to make a difference.”

When post-9/11 veterans return home from war, there are more than 45,000 organizations willing to help them transition from military to civilian life. But often, these organizations work in isolation, causing confusion and disjointed gaps in service for transitioning veterans and their families. 

“People return, and except for fellow veterans, most people around them in work and life don’t understand what they are going through,” said Secretary Shulkin. “We have to do a much better job of getting people in the country to understand how we can support our veterans when they return.”

Beyond the more than four million post-9/11 veterans who navigate the transition from military to civilian life, there are eight to ten million military family members who make the transition as well 

“Military families are American families. They have the same priorities – to create a nurturing home, to take care of their loved ones, to find a strong education for their children, and to be financially secure.  And they do so with more difficulties and more obstacles,” said Mrs. Bush. “In order to ensure that our caregivers have the opportunity to find meaningful work and contribute financially to the household, we need to ensure that our caregivers and family members are eligible for the same transition services that are offered to veterans through the government and the non-profit community.”

The Stand-To also brought together task forces, led by the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative, focused on health and wellbeing, education, and employment. The groups collaborated on key policy recommendations for the administration and the road ahead. To see a list of the recommendations please visit


Along with urging the more than 70 organizations to continue working together, President Bush also announced a first-of-its-kind Veteran Leadership Program at the Bush Institute that will target veteran and non-veteran rising leaders.

“I am confident this program will make a lasting impact not only for our vets, but those helping our vets,” said President Bush. 

By developing the leadership skills of individuals who are serving our nation’s veterans, helping them scale their impact through leadership projects, and building a network, the program will ultimately widely affect post-9/11 veterans and the services and opportunities available to them. Applications will be open mid-September 2017 and classes will commence in spring 2018.

The Stand-To event was made possible with generous support from The Boeing Company, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Walmart Foundation. It was the latest effort by the Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative to ensure that post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war.  

To help more veterans access high quality care and reduce stigmas associated with the invisible wounds of war, the Bush Institute recently announced the Warrior Wellness Alliance, linking peer-to-peer veteran networks with best-in-class health care providers.

Because employment is also a top issue for post-9/11 veterans, the Bush Institute has partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to create the Veteran Employment Transition Roadmap to better equip veterans to join the civilian workforce. Learn more at


About the George W. Bush Institute

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization with the mission of developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. The work is achieved through three Impact Centers – Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and the Engagement Agenda – by which the Bush Institute engages the greater community with its important work. To learn more, please visit