ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- With more than 80,000 disabled Veterans expected to enter the workforce over the next five years, the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command (WTC) launched a national education campaign to address employers' concerns that currently impede the hiring of wounded, injured and ill veterans.
During a press conference at the National Press Club, Nov. 19, WTC launched "Hire a Veteran" to debunk the myths around post-traumatic stress disorder, reasonable accommodations, and transferability of military skills.
"Our goal for this campaign is for employers to gain clarity on how well military skills translate to civilian employment; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)/traumatic brain injury (TBI), and reasonable accommodations -- which will result in the employment of more wounded warriors," said Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop, assistant surgeon general for Warrior Care and commander, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command.
"We hope to amplify the incredible value our wounded warriors bring to the civilian workforce given their unique training and experience," Bishop added. "We hope to illuminate the fact that PTSD and TBI are treatable conditions which are not unique to the military and that most individuals affected go on to have productive, successful lives."
The campaign includes a 10-minute educational video providing solutions to the three obstacles, a two-minute "trailer" video, radio spot and online employer toolkit. View the materials at www.WTC.army.mil or engage online with #hireaveteran.
The campaign was built on research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world's largest association devoted to human resource management. Founded in 1948, SHRM represents more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries. The random membership survey received a 14 percent response rate.
"I'll admit that our members are telling us there are challenges when it comes to recruiting, hiring and retaining veterans," said Jeff Pon, Ph.D., SHRM chief human resources and strategy officer. "The good news is this: employers want to hire veterans, and they are actively interested in hiring veterans."
"Two-thirds of employers surveyed by SHRM said they have hired veterans within the past 36 months," he said. "This is a significant jump from 2010, when just over half of organizations said they had done so."
Tim Isacco, Orion International chief operating officer, spoke at the press conference and agreed with the idea of veterans having difficulties translating their military skills to the civilian workforce.
"There is often times a disconnect when it comes to translating a 'military' resume into 'civilian,' or understanding a veteran's background and skill set to determine a best fit. It is vital for corporate America to realize that while all veterans are trained within a military occupation that brings a specific level of training and qualifications, veterans universally possess many soft skills that make them invaluable within the workforce such as leadership, tireless work ethic, and proven performance under the most difficult of situations."
Retired Staff Sgt. Paul "Rob" Roberts shared how the support he received from the Army while recovering at a Warrior Transition Unit for third-degree burns, PTSD and TBI helped him secure a position with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
During his recovery, he worked with occupational therapists and transition coordinators to identify a new career path.
"When I took my oath, raised my hand, and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic -- I meant it. So if I couldn't serve in the Army anymore, I knew I wanted to serve my country by working for the federal government whether it was for the CIA, DEA or FBI."
Through an Operation Warfighter internship at the Drug Enforcement Agency, and then support at a job fair at Fort Belvoir working on his resume and interview skills, he received a job with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "They treat me just like the Army did -- like I'm family. They never leave anyone behind. I miss the Army, but I love my job."
Roberts joked with employers, "I was messed up pretty bad. One-hundred percent disabled. I didn't need a job, but I wanted one. I was too young to be retired. I need a new purpose."
At the close of the press conference, he charged employers: "The Army tears you down in basic training and builds you back up as a leader with training and experience. Isn't that what you want for your company?"