Vocational Reintegration for Returning Service Members BATTLEMIND SYMPOSIUM II John W. Myers VA Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment
Challenges Faced by Veterans Returning to the Workplace • Traumatic Brain Injury • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder • Physical Pain
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) • Traumatically induced physiological disruption of the brain (an injury occurs) • Any period of loss of consciousness not to exceed 30 minutes • Loss of memory for events immediately before of after the accident • Any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident
MILD TBI in the WORKPLACE • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2003): 1.5 Million instances of MTBI – 35% treated and released; 25 % received no treatment • What challenges might people with TBI encounter in the workplace? • Although recovery from mild brain injuries (concussions) is generally uncomplicated and complete, some individuals continue to experience cognitive or mood difficulties. Most workplace difficulties associated with TBI are related to attention span, short-term memory, and organization. For some, headaches and mental fatigue may persist.
MILD TBI in the WORKPLACE (Cont.) • Some Simple accommodations: • Regular daily schedules • Routine tasks • Low levels of distracting noise and light • Regular breaks • Access to memory aids (such as voice recorders and task checklists)
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) • Anyone who experiences enough stress or exposure to a life-threatening situation/situations, either towards themselves or others, can develop PTSD
PTSD in the WORKPLACE • What behaviors are associated with PTSD? • Memory or concentration difficulties • Low frustration tolerance • “Flashbacks” – intrusive thoughts • Hyper-vigilant behavior or exaggerated startle response • Outbursts inconsistent with the precipitating event • Detachment from others, emotional numbing
PTSD in the WORKPLACE (Cont.) • Accommodations for affected workers: • Low levels of distracting noise and light • Regular breaks • Job coaching, job sharing • Respect and understanding for those dealing with these issues. • Encouraging treatment and recovery
Physical Pain • Combat veterans can be exposed to multiple blasts and wear up to 100 pounds of gear. • Chronic Headaches • Lower back pain • Shoulder, neck, wrist, and knee pain
CHRONIC PAIN in the WORKPLACE • National Pain Foundation Study (2006) • 1 in 3 employees experience chronic pain at work • 95% of workers suffering from chronic pain continue to work, unless the pain reaches an intolerable level • 89% of chronic pain sufferers experience pain at work • 46% acknowledge chronic pain affects their work performance (“presenteeism”)
CHRONIC PAIN in the WORKPLACE (Cont.) • Accommodations for affected employees: • “Suitable” work duties • Regular breaks • Ergonomic work stations • Healthy habits • Explore pain management options
Why Hire a Veteran? • Trained for positions of leadership • Trained in problem solving • Trained in teamwork • Trained to deal with stress and pressure • Trained to maintain composure • Taught discipline and work ethic
Why Hire a Veteran? (cont.) • Trained to use resources effectively • Trained to improvise and overcome • Trained to engage in training • Trained to work with diverse people and groups • Understand the concept of doing something because it must be done, rather than doing something because it is what you want to do it.
Why Hire a Veteran? (cont.) • Uniformed Services Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA) • Compliance with Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) guidelines • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) • Disabled Tax Credit (Title 26, IRS Code, Section 44) • VR&E Special Employer Incentive program
WHY HIRE A VETERAN? IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.