There are about 20.4 million veterans in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. This means a substantial amount of people can enter the workforce upon returning home. However, veterans may have certain needs different from non-veterans that you’ll have to address to make work easier for the heroes who served our country.
Every veteran is different, so you can’t treat all veterans the same. The Pew Research Center reports that about 10% of veterans were seriously injured at some point during their service, making about 2.4 million people. Some of these injuries are physical, requiring the veteran to use mobility tools like wheelchairs or crutches, or could manifest in post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you know you’re hiring a veteran, be sure to ask them what kind of injuries they sustained during their service that their employer should know about (just be sure to check with your local legislation that it’s okay to ask such a question to job candidates). If your veteran uses a wheelchair, you’ll have to make sure your facilities are wheelchair and handicap accessible to reduce the likelihood of falls. Some veterans might not make their needs apparent, so taking the time to know what your veteran employee needs enables you to better their safety and comfort in the workplace.
Research what common issues occur for veterans and implement solutions in your workforce. For example, if loud noises are a part of the work environment that could mimic gunshots or bombs, buy earplugs for your veteran workers. Better yet, keep veteran workers away from such sounds to avoid triggering their PTSD. Some triggers of PTSD may be avoidable, like a loud alarm going off at random, but by cultivating a forward-thinking mentality rather than a retroactive one, you can nip problems in the bud rather than having to do damage control to already wounded heroes.
Some veterans might avoid seeking help from psychiatric professionals for a variety of reasons, but your workplace should foster a culture of open communication to resolve any underlying psychological trauma the veteran might have endured during service. Veterans who received a major service-related injury are three times as likely as their non-injured counterparts to incur PTSD. The disorder can manifest in multiple ways, but symptoms most commonly include reliving the trauma, which could disrupt the veteran’s workflow, and bad dreams impairing the veteran’s quality of sleep necessary for a productive workday.
Some veterans might view PTSD as a natural product of their service, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By encouraging communication, veterans can not only discuss the issues that could impair their mental health but feel encouraged to seek help. If your workplace fosters a culture of open communication, you could prevent your veteran workers from holding onto past trauma that could impair their quality of life.
Our veterans sacrifice so much for us, the least we can do is ensure they have a great workplace to return to. Talk to veterans about what they want to see in the workplace. After a few short years of hard work, your business could be much more welcoming to the people who risked their lives for this country.
Visit our job board regularly to advertise suitable positions for veterans.
By Lucy Wyndham