Disabled Veterans in the Workplace

Recently, I met a man who had just hired a veteran to work for his business. He was wondering what he should know to support veterans in his workplace.

According to “Supporting Our Wounded Warriors in the Workplace,” by James Allen, many employers are eager to hire veterans because of their leadership skills, discipline, ability to work well under pressure, and strong work ethic. There are, though, many challenges that veterans who want to work must overcome.

Physical and emotional problems which may require special accommodation include amputations, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and other mental health impairments. How can an employer be supportive of a veteran who has just been hired? A few things that might help include:

• Know the symptoms of PTSD and TBI – (it is likely that symptoms will improve over time)
• Know what is included in the Employers Assistance Program for Wounded Warriors
• Check out services provided by federal and local government to veterans such as those offered through the Wounded Warrior Project

Keep in mind that veterans may be struggling as they reintegrate into civilian life. Some of the issues they may face include:
• Grief
• Feelings that he or she doesn’t belong in a non-military environment
• May miss the structure provided by the military
• May miss the intensity of combat duty

Tips for helping a veteran adjust to working in a non-military environment include:
• Do not initiate discussions of war
• Allow veterans to sit facing doors and windows
• Understand that the veteran may need to move frequently due to chronic pain
• Acknowledge military holidays
• Respect medication-related ups and downs

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