Army launches campaign to dispel myths about vets with PTSD and TBI

November 20, 2012

The Army has launched a “Hire a Veteran” education campaign aimed at debunking myths about hiring veterans with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury.

Eye Opener

Recent research by the Society for Human Resource Management, which is partnering with the Army in the campaign, has shown some employers are concerned about the impact of PTSD and TBI on a veteran’s job performance, as well as the cost of accommodating these veterans in the workplace.

About 42 percent of employers in a SHRM membership survey believe their companies would face challenges in hiring veterans suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues.

“The myth is they’re not going to be successful,” said Tim Isacco, chief operating officer for Orion International, a firm specializing in placing veterans in the private sector, said at a news conference Monday at the National Press Club. “They will be.”

The campaign includes a video and online employer toolkit that can be downloaded at www.wtc.army.mil/employers.

“The first step is to help employers to understand that not all veterans need accommodations,” said Jeff Pons, chief human resources and strategy officer for the society. “And when they do — for PTSD or other disabilities — many of those accommodations can easily be made.”

Only 13 percent of employers were very familiar with resources on where to find veteran job candidates, according to Pon. “That’s not acceptable,” he said.

“Reasonable accommodations for our wounded warriors entering into the workplace are not difficult, expensive or a burden, especially when compared to the value these outstanding individuals bring,” said Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop, commander of the Army’s Warrior Transition Command.

The campaign is aimed at removing the stigma associated with PTSD and TBI, Bishop said.

“People think it’s some kind of tremendous burden, to the point they can’t even mention the words, like it’s a dirty name,” Isacco said.

Former Army staff sergeant Paul “Rob” Roberts, who suffered serious burns and a traumatic brain injury when his squad was hit by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Chamkani, Afghanistan, in 2009, wanted to continue working for the federal government after retiring from the Army.

With the help of the Army’s Wounded Warrior Program, Roberts was able to land an internship with the Drug Enforcement Agency. “The internship with the DEA taught me that even though I am a little bit slower, I am still a value part of the team,” he said at Monday’s press conference.

“I’m too young to be retired,” added Roberts, 30, who now works for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “People need a sense of purpose, or they start to shut down and wither away.”

Steve Vogel is a reporter for the national staff of The Washington Post who covers the federal government and frequently writes about the military and veterans.
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Eric Yoder | November 19, 2012