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Veterans at Work

Career Advancement

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

For the veterans returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is the reality they face. Statistics show that of the 1.5 million U.S. soldiers who have served in the mid-east conflicts, about one in every four is a National Guard or Reservist. This is the highest rate of civilian service members since WWII. With one out of every three Iraq veterans facing serious psychological injuries such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD, it is necessary that the issue is addressed quickly and properly.

As veterans return home, many will come back to jobs, families, and lives that they held before their tour of duty. Adjusting back to civilian life can be a challenging process for all involved. For employers, it is important to recognize that there are certain steps that need to be taken to help this process along. The majority of returning veterans fall under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. USERRA establishes the cumulative length of time an individual may be absent from work for military duty and retain reemployment rights for five years. In addition to providing a much needed opportunity, employing veterans can have monetary benefits in the form of tax incentives.

Reemployment rights extend to persons who have been absent from a position of employment because of “service in the uniformed services” (the performance of duty on a voluntary or involuntary basis in a uniformed service), which include:

  • Active duty/Active duty for training
  • Initial active duty for training (and Inactive)
  • Full-time National Guard duty
  • Absence from work for an examination to determine a person’s fitness for any above duty
  • Funeral honors duty performed by National Guard or reserve members
  • Duty preformed by intermittent employees of the National Disaster System, part of Homeland
  • Security- Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate

There are eight categories exempt from the five-year limitation:

  • Service is required beyond five years to complete obligation
  • Service from which a person, through no fault of theirs, is unable to obtain a release
  • Those involved in two-week annual training sessions and monthly weekend drills mandated, reservists and National Guard members
  • Service under an order to remain on active duty because of war or national emergency declared by the President or Congress
  • When active duty by volunteers and select reservists have been ordered to active duty without consent
  • When put in duty in support of critical missions or requirements in times other than national emergency or war
  • When federal service is needed of the National Guard and called to action by the President
  • When federal service by member of the National Guard is called to action by the President to suppress an insurrection, repel an invasion, or execute laws of the United States

A list of accommodations employers can be expected to make include:

  • written materials in accessible formats, such as large print, Braille, or on computer disk
  • recruitment fairs, interviews, tests, and training held in accessible locations
  • modified equipment or devices (e.g., assistive technology that would allow a blind person to use a computer or someone who is hearing impaired to use a telephone; a glare guard for a computer monitor used by a person with a traumatic brain injury; a one-handed keyboard for a person missing an arm or hand)
  • physical modifications to the workplace (e.g., reconfiguring a workspace, including adjusting the height of a desk or shelves for a person in a wheelchair)
  • permission to work from home
  • leave for treatment, recuperation, or training related to their disability
  • modified or part-time work schedules
  • a job coach who could assist an employee who initially has some difficulty learning or remembering job tasks
  • reassignment to a vacant position where a disability prevents performance of the employee’s current job, or where accommodating the employee in the current job would result in undue hardship

Why Hire Veterans
Become familiar with the benefits of hiring a veteran. Veterans bring a number of unique skill sets to the job that years of training and experience in the armed forces has provided them. This can make them ideal candidates for any number of positions.

Find Resources
Utilize the many organizations that help to connect veterans with jobs after they come back. There are multiple agencies and non-profits that work to help veterans adjust back to civilian life. These are a great place to start your search as they can identify the candidates most suitable for your position.

Make the Transition Easier
Some veterans will have more trouble adapting back to life as a civilian than others. By understanding their needs and ways you can help, the transition will be more manageable for all.

Know all your laws and regulations
Veterans may receive additional benefits and coverage especially if injured.

Enjoy the Benefits
In addition to gaining unique skills that can be applied to your business, Veterans also can provide tax incentives. See the IRS website to learn more.
If a veteran returns to work with any type of physical disability, such as the loss of arms or legs, employers will be required in a timely manner to provide the veteran with reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
If a veteran returns to work suffering from post-traumatic stress problems or any other form of psychological disabilities as a result of military service, employers may be required to modify the employee's work schedule and to make appropriate medical treatment possible. Reasonable accommodation may require some form of job retraining.

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