Rachel Phillips

MSW, LMSW, DSW Candidate

Forgotten No More: Intensive Military-to-Veteran Transitional Programming for Other-than-Honorable Veterans to Improve the Rates of Persistent Psychosocial Issues


Other-Than-Honorable (OTH) discharged Veterans within the Veteran Affairs system have long been forgotten, despite their significant needs. There are scant Veteran-centered resources tailored to address their unique psychosocial challenges as a result of limitations imposed by current programs and policies. This presentation highlights the disparities in social, health, and financial outcomes between favorably and unfavorably discharged Veterans, magnifying the vulnerability of OTH Veterans, thereby compounding the effects of military exposure. A critical investigation of existing retroactive efforts reveal these interventions as inadequate and subsequently perpetuating the stigma and psychosocial distress among this Veteran subpopulation. By conceptualizing OTH Veteran issues through a biopsychosocial perspective, alongside the lenses of Veteran Critical Theory and Military Transition Theory, this presentation humanizes OTH Veterans, challenging the detrimental stereotypes that have long marginalized and oppressed them. The presentation concludes with an innovative, intensive military-to-Veteran transition program designed to deliver timely, all-encompassing wraparound services within the VA. This effort aims to alleviate and prevent the escalation of psychosocial issues, intending to significantly improve the quality of life that these undervalued United States heroes can achieve, and in doing so acknowledging and addressing their sacrifices and needs unconditionally.


Rachel Phillips, MSW, LMSW holds a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Psychology with a minor in Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego. Her career began at the VA San Diego Health Care System (VASDHS), where her deep respect for Veterans inspired her engagement in clinical research to enhance Veteran-centered care. In February 2024, Phillips’ research team’s article entitled, “Compassion meditation for distressed older Veterans: A feasibility study” was published in the Clinical Gerontologist.

Phillips’ dedication to research catalyzed her interest in Veteran mental health. This led her to complete a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Kentucky, where she specialized in Clinical Practice and Military Behavioral Health, and to obtain her provisional license. Currently, she is a Doctoral Candidate at the same institution, concentrating on Clinical Social Work Practice to augment the support she offers Veterans.

Professionally, Phillips serves as a social worker within the Mental Health Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program (MH RRTP) at her local VA. Here, she focuses on providing therapeutic and case management services to Veterans coping with mental health and substance use challenges.

Passionate about the quality and accessibility of Veteran care, Phillips is deeply involved in research to improve transitional programs for Other-than-Honorable (OTH) discharged Veterans, emphasizing the need for enhanced support during their Veteran transition. She considers her work a profound honor and is committed to developing and implementing innovative programs to better serve this subpopulation, ultimately increasing their opportunities for higher quality of life and happiness.