As wounded war veterans enter civilian life after service, the U.S. Army is trying to increase job opportunities for former soldiers who’ve been badly hurt in combat. “We offer our ill and injured soldiers a variety of resources,” says Brigadier General David J. Bishop, a 30 year military member. “It’s based on personal goals, both short-term and long-term.”
At the National Press Club, the Army touted its “Hire a Veteran” campaign, a national initiative encouraging hiring managers to strongly consider applicants who’ve been injured on the battlefield. The campaign also highlights the Warrior Transition Command, or WTC, an organization with a mission to match badly injured veterans with successful companies and government agencies. “Why do employers want to hire veterans? Because they recognized the value and unique skill set that veterans learn in the military,” says Dr. Jeff Pon from the Society for Human Resource Management.
WTC response teams are currently dispatched around the country assisting wounded soldiers with brainstorming, and ultimately matching their client’s skills and abilities with good jobs and internships. “We know they still have a lot to offer other employers. For example, leadership experience ranging from a tank crew of three soldiers, or a squad of ten soldiers, or negotiation skills that have been gained in places like the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq,” says Brigadier General Bishop. “I can trust a soldier to get the job done.”
Military advocates are also trying to quell concerns and misconceptions about veterans coping with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, an anxiety condition caused by extreme combat. Researchers believe, when addressed properly, the disorder poses little or no risk. “The first step is to help employers understand that not all veterans need accommodations. And when they do, for PTSD or other disabilities, many of those accommodations can easily be made,” says Dr. Pon.
Meanwhile, veterans who’ve benefited from the WTC are suiting up and staffing offices around the country. Retired staff sergeant Paul Roberts was badly injured by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan. With help from the Warrior Transition Command, the Newport News native became a coveted jobseeker garnering several promising employment offers, including one from the FBI. “Other veterans and I worked on our interview skills, specifically how to sell ourselves to an employer,” says Roberts. “We worked on our resumes, and then on the last day, employers came in to interview us.”
In the midst of a sluggish economy, the Warrior Transition Command says it’s successfully helping thousands of injured veterans find good career fields, an encouraging sign as these soldiers make their move from the battlefield to the business world. “Hiring veterans is a top priority for the White House and the nation,” says Brigadier General Bishop. “This unique population has so much to offer.”