November 21, 2012
By J.D. Leipold
The plan aims to help employers understand that wounded warriors can bring a wealth of leadership experience and skills to the table and to their bottom line.
“This campaign is about setting conditions, not just preparing our Soldiers for a new career as a veteran, but also preparing employers about this unique population who has so much to offer,” said WTC Commander Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop in kicking off Warrior Care Month at the National Press Club.
“Our goal for this campaign is for employers to gain clarity on how well military skills translate to civilian employment and that post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, known as PTSD and TBI, are treatable conditions which are not unique to the military and most individuals affected go on to lead successful productive lives,” he said.
Bishop also noted that the campaign also hopes to get across to would-be employers that, “reasonable accommodation for wounded warriors is not difficult, not expensive, nor a burden when compared to the incredible value our wounded warriors bring to the civilian workforce given their unique training and experience.”
To get those messages across to the civilian workforce, the WTC formed a partnership with The Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management and Orion International, the country’s largest military recruiting firm, to produce a 10-minute video that addresses these top three misperception, the obstacles and solutions.
The video and an online toolkit are available for download and distribution to HR professionals and employers at www.WTC.Army.mil.
“Hire a Veteran — Obstacles & Solutions” features the stories of Soldiers who spent more than six months with a Warrior Transition Unit recovering from severe wounds, illness or injuries and how they pulled themselves up and out into the civilian workforce.
One of those Soldiers, medically retired Staff Sgt. Paul “Rob” Roberts suffered second and third degree burns and other severe injuries including TBI from an improvised explosive device that destroyed his vehicle and killed two Soldiers and an Afghan interpreter in June 2009.
While he was recovering in a Warrior Transition Battalion he worked on his resume with the Soldier Family Assistance Center eventually securing an internship with the Drug Enforcement Administration where he worked until he was medically retired from the Army in January 2012.
“The internship with the DEA taught me that even though I’m a little bit slower, I’m still a valued part of the team, that my experience in the Army is what makes me valuable and that I still have the ability and desire to learn,” he said.
After attending several job fairs at Fort Belvoir, Va., Roberts received several job offers, but took a position with the FBI.
“I can’t really give details on my new job, but I can tell you that the skills I learned in the Army such as leadership, situational awareness, analysis and attention to detail transition perfectly into my new job,” he said.
Tim Isacco, Orion chief operating officer said his organization since its founding in 1991 has found careers for more than 17,000 former enlisted service members and an additional 12,000 officers.
“Of the nearly 100 data points we track on every veteran job seeker, we have never kept record of whether or not our veterans are disabled,” he said. “Why? It’s never been relevant. Our clients appreciate the true value a veteran brings to their workforce, regardless of the presence or absence of a disability.”
Isacco added that it was vital for corporate America to realize that while all veterans are trained within a military occupation that contain specific training and qualifications, veterans he said, universally possess many soft skills — tireless work ethics, the ability to do more with less and proven performance under extreme duress — and that makes veterans invaluable.
SHRM chief human resources and strategy officer Jeff Pon said his 260,000 members from businesses large and small across the nation were working to demystify and de-stigmatize PTSD.
“Forty-six percent of SHRM survey respondents said PTSD or other mental health issues are a challenge when hiring veterans,” he said. “And, 61 percent believe that accommodating works with disabilities such as PTSD or traumatic brain injury required more effort on the employer — but 83 percent said it was worth it.”
Pon said that 83 percent figure signified awareness and education that can help demystify PTSD.
“Part of what SHRM is helping employers understand that not every veteran suffers from PTSD,” he said. “Like many mental disabilities, you can’t easily see or recognize PTSD, so it’s misunderstood. More needs to be done in general to demystify mental disabilities, whether it’s PTSD, autism or depression.”
Still, two-thirds of the employers surveyed by SHRM said they had hired veterans within the past 36 months — a significant jump from 2010 when just over half of organizations said they had done so, he said.