Putting our Wounded Warriors to Work - Hire a Hero!

As of November 5, 2012 there were a total of more than 50,000 soldiers wounded in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND).1

It has been estimated that as many as 300,000 will return with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), along with another 60,000 estimated to be diagnosed with a combat related Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  This totals roughly 410,000 men and women who have become disabled in the line of duty, and now are seeking to re-career into America’s already overcrowded job market.    And, an estimated one million more are estimated to be transitioning out of the military over the next five years.  This article is intended to take a look at this issue as it is currently understood and reported in the mainstream press, and to shed some additional light on both existing government funded benefits and resources that are available to assist both veterans and businesses.

First, it’s noteworthy to point out that mainstream magazines such as Forbes, Business Week and Fortune are already printing articles about the value of hiring veterans.  However, the media is printing very little about the value of hiring wounded warriors and disabled veterans, despite the fact that wounded warriors possess the same skill sets that are being lauded as valuable to American business owners.

While it could be inferred that the wounded warriors are automatically being discussed by articles about Veterans in general, we know from experience at Drach Consulting and The Sierra Group that a negative bias exists in the minds of many regarding how certain injuries from these conflicts such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and or TBI (traumatic brain injury) are construed by the general public.  Given that these types of “signature injuries” from these wars are in most instances ‘invisible’ recruiters and others are not always certain of how to anticipate or provide any necessary accommodations for these veterans.

Additionally, because PTSD is not classified by the military as a “wound” and/or because it is not always reported/treated these job market applicants are not always being served by an agency that is trained in how to assist disabled veterans.  The same could be said for those with Traumatic Brain injury (TBI), especially in the instances where the TBI was caused by concussion blasts.  Studies are showing that this too may go unreported and/or untreated.  Thus, a dilemma of lack of understanding or lack of information can cause some frustration among both veterans and employers looking to hire our veterans.

The following information is beneficial in understanding and moving forward for both veterans and employers:

A wounded warrior possesses the same skill sets valued by employers that veterans without disabilities.  These include:

    • Commitment and loyalty
    • Dedication and focus
    • “Get the job done” attitude
    • Unsurpassed experience working under pressure
    • Experience in conflict resolution
    • Multicultural experiences
    • Security issues on an international scale

A recent article in Forbes citing the following skills veterans bring to the work place includes:  leadership; grace under pressure; performance and results oriented; self-sacrifice; communications and goal setting.

Here are some issues facing our veterans:

  • Difficulty translating their military experience into civilian language and terminology – and therefore trouble getting their resumes to “the top of the pile”
  • Uncertainty about whether or not to expose their military history due to societal stigma (re “the war” and media-displayed invisible injuries of war)
  • Unprecedented number of National Guard and Reserve Component
  • When the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed its members (June 2010), 46% said they believed post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues posed a hiring challenge. Just 22% said the same about combat-related physical disabilities.

Where can an employer go for help?  In addition to emailing DRACH CONSULTING at consultrwd@yahoo.com or The Sierra Group info@thesierragroup.com, the following websites and resources are very beneficial for employers who are looking to recruit and hire a wounded warrior:

The Veterans Job Bank powered by NRD.gov provides Veterans with a central source for identifying Veteran-committed employment opportunities and assists America’s employers in identifying qualified Veterans.  There is also a Military to Civilian Skills Translator that is useful for employers as well as veterans.

For further information contact Ron Drach at Drach Consulting, consultrwd@yahoo.com or Janet Fiore at The Sierra Group by phone 800.973.7687 or email:  info@thesierragroup.com.

“Together, we are driving up employment for Americans with Disabilities, including Veterans!”

1 Combat operations ended in Iraq on September 1, 2010. American troops remained in the country to advise Iraqi security forces as part of Operation New Dawn until the final withdrawal on December 15, 2011. *Data source DoD’s Defense Casualty Analysis System.