Emails informing veterans about education and career benefits increased applications.

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What was the challenge?

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) is committed to helping military Servicemembers fully reintegrate back into society through Chapter 36 services which include personalized counseling on education, career options, and accessing related VA benefits. The Chapter 36 application process is paper-based and involves multiple steps, which may create barriers to access.

What was the program change?

OES identified email as a low cost tool to inform Veterans about Chapter 36 benefits, their eligibility, the application process, and what to expect after an application was submitted. OES developed an email using social science insights, such as emphasizing that Veterans earned these benefits through their service.

How did the evaluation work?

64,270 eligible Veterans with a valid email address on record were randomly assigned to receive one of three options: 1) business as usual (sent no email from the VA about the benefit), 2) basic email notifying the Veteran of the benefit, or 3) an email emphasizing that the Veteran earned the benefit.

What was the impact?

Both emails increased applications and completion of services, but overall uptake rates remained low. The email emphasizing that the Veteran earned the benefit outperformed the basic email on open and click- through rates.These results suggest that email can be an inexpensive and effective way to share information about Chapter 36 benefits, but that they may not lead to substantial improvements in benefits utilization.

Year

2015

Agency

Veterans Affairs

Domain

Economic Opportunity

Resources

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