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Disability Action Center NW

Employing veterans: why is it so difficult?

Conclusion: Written by JOHN BOERSTLER

Part 1 of this article identified the problem of translating military skills to civilian professions and part 2 tackled the issue of networking for private sector employment. With veteran unemployment running at 10%, solutions to these problems are keys for presenting the best possible scenarios for gainful employment.

Problem: The stigma of behavioral and physical health issues in returning veterans.

Disabled veterans are at an immediate disadvantage when compared to their civilian counterparts. Whether vets suffer from post-traumatic stress or from a back condition sustained from their service in the Armed Forces, they’re limited in their ability to fully-function. On one side you have the employer who might be more reluctant in hiring a veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because they simply don’t understand the condition. On the other you have a veteran who may be limited in what they can do at work because of their disabilities and is therefore unemployable. Both are challenges for the veterans to overcome when searching for a position that’s right for them.

We’ve identified the problem, what is the solution?

Disabled veterans can benefit from existing hiring preferences in federal, state and local government.

Many private corporations and non-profit organizations have disabled or protected veteran status on their entrance questionnaires that sometimes translate into specific preferences for those seeking employment. However, when addressing the need to overcome the stigma of hiring these heroes, larger information campaigns are needed to set the record straight. For example, the Real Warriors campaign is a Defense-funded program that addresses the stigma of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) through marketing, social media, and public service announcements via their interactive website. More information on the federal, state and local hiring preferences for disabled veterans can be found by logging onto their websites:

Feds Hire Vets

Veterans Preference in Texas

Veterans Preference in City of Houston

Copy of Executive Order

Although there are many great employment assistance resources and services available to our community of returning veterans and their families, it seems as if the word is still not getting out despite major pushes at the national, regional, state and local levels. As much as it is the responsibility of each service man and woman to take charge of their own transition, civilian employers need to pull their weight as well. Doing more to understand the benefits of hiring veterans and learning about how their disabilities, both emotional and physical, can impact their ability to function in a work setting are both critically important. The numbers are an indicator of how our transitioning veterans are faring nationally but I guarantee it’s worse at the grass roots level because many cases go unreported. Many employers and veterans have stepped up to overcome this great challenge and more will continue to as awareness grows. Be sure you’re part of the solution as opposed to being part of the problem and we’ll work together to get vets employed.

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