February 2013
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TD Magazine

The Value of Veterans

Friday, February 8, 2013

Will common misconceptions about veterans prevent your organization from capitalizing on valuable talent?

As part of the U.S. Army's Hire a Veteran campaign, the Army recently partnered with the Society for Human Resource Management to conduct a research study on veteran employment. The results indicate that assumptions about veterans often influence employers' hiring decisions—and not always in the veterans' favor.

The study finds three employer concerns that may prevent them from hiring veterans: the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) on job performance, the cost of reasonable accommodations for disabled veterans, and the transfer of military skills to the civilian workplace. When asked whether workers with PTSD or TBI were more likely to have violent outbursts in the workplace, and whether it was costly to accommodate these workers, more than half of respondents say they don't know.

Informed by the study's results, the Hire a Veteran campaign focuses on dispelling the negative assumptions about veterans in civilian work settings. Despite evidence that employers are actively interested in hiring veterans, there is a clear need to educate employers about the issues they indicate are sources of concern.

The campaign's first stop is to debunk the misconception surrounding service-related disabilities such as PTSD and TBI. PTSD alone affects more than 7.8 million Americans.

"In the United States, motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of PTSD," says Farris Tuma of the National Institute of Mental Health. "In the same way we wouldn't expect a survivor of a motor vehicle accident who develops PTSD to go on a driving rampage, in no way should we expect a returning service member or veteran to violently act out their emotions in the workplace or any other context."


The Army also worked with the Society for Human Resource Management to quantify the accommodations employers typically make for veterans with mental health disabilities. They find that such accommodations mostly cost less than $500, and 57 percent cost nothing.

A special focus of the campaign is to recognize the unique set of skills soldiers acquire from their military experience. According to Tim Isacco, chief operating officer of Orion International, these skills include leadership, tireless work ethic, the ability to do more with less, and proven performance in difficult situations.

About the Author

Stephanie Castellano is a former writer/editor for the Association for Talent Development (ATD). She is now a freelance writer based in Gainesville, Florida.

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