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3 Ways Veterans Can Work and Manage Health Challenges

3 Ways Veterans Can Work and Manage Health Challenges

Many veterans want to work but find it difficult to be employed without having a negative impact on their VA-recognized health challenges. Here are three ways a veteran can have a job without aggravating existing health conditions.

Choose a career that doesn't make you sicker

As human beings, we are wired for work. We are built for activity, productivity, socialization, and accomplishment.

Having something that you do every day or three or more times a week that you can get a sense of accomplishment from is a hallmark of good health into our senior years, some psychologists and neurologists say.

Work is not really about the paycheck

Most people would argue that they go to work because they have bills to pay, and that might be your primary reason for dragging yourself out of bed and into your workspace every day.

Psychologists and others who study the brain say there are more important reasons to work:

  • Work is social: Taking part in work gets you out of the house and helps you to broaden your social circle beyond friends and family.
  • Work makes you more active: The act of going to work requires physical activity. More bending, stretching, light lifting, and walking equals increased mobility, flexibility and calories burned.
  • Work prevents dementia: Just like physical activity creates a state of physical health, mental activity creates good mental health.
  • Work is fulfilling: Feeling useful, making a contribution, accomplishing things makes us feel good and feel valued.

Create your best work-life ever

Now that we know the real reason why we work, or should work—and that includes unpaid work and hobbies too, let us look at how to create the best work situation for a veteran or anyone with health issues.

There are three key things you need to have in a work arrangement to avoid aggravating your health conditions:

Find your passion

Work that you are passionate about will not seem like work at all. We spend an average of 35% of our waking hours at work, over a lifetime. It only makes sense that we should enjoy something that we spend so much time doing.

If you are not sure of what kind of work you could be passionate about start by listing all of the things that you do for hobbies and recreation, causes that are near to your heart, or challenges that you or someone that you know are facing that you would like to make a little bit easier to manage. Here is a shortlist of passions with sample careers that correspond:

  • Rescue and train dogs – Assist at a non-profit or commercial dog training business.
  • Veteran’s issues – Work for a non-profit, Veteran’s Administration / Veteran’s Health Administration, or State government agency.
  • Reading and writing – Become a ghostwriter for an e-publisher or blog aggregator. Volunteer at the public library.

Prepare a written work make-up plan

Make a list of all of the appointments and health care flare-ups that might take you away from work.

Include the day of the week, the amount of time required, including driving time, and a plan for when you can make up the missed hours at work.

Factor in time for a balance where you have ample time for exercise, meditation, medication, and time doing things away from work that you enjoy with family and friends.

Schedule your appointments at times of the day that you are less likely to miss an important meeting, during slow times of the day, and consider your impact on any team members when making your plan.

Negotiate a written workplace accommodations agreement.

Bring your Work Make-Up Plan to the meeting. Show your manager how much time you will potentially be unavailable and how you are proposing to make up that time during alternate hours.

Check out our blog for more information on jobs for veterans, visit our job board regularly, or follow us on Facebook.