Many prospective employers seem to be scared of the risks of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans in the civilian workplace, according to a think tank composed of business, military and health leaders.
Despite these findings, one specialist who has evaluated more than 7,000 veterans with PTSD says veterans can make some of the best employees in the workplace — and there are things a company can do to be better prepared if a problem should arise.
Dr. Harry Croft is a former Army doctor, a psychiatrist specializing in PTSD treatment, and author of the book “I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall.”
His advice to companies who aren’t sure about hiring veterans:
• Understand the veteran. Know his or her skill sets, and the differences in military and civilian cultures. Hire veterans in pairs or groups, because they’re used to working that way.
• Learn about PTSD so if you hire a veteran dealing with it, you know what the symptoms are. This will help you understand that the vet is not trying to be disrespectful or obstinate, and will help you understand the reasons he or she sometimes behaves the way they do.
• Don’t give into the myths, mystique or stigma that can go with the thinking about veterans with PTSD. Do your own research, and keep an open mind.
• Offer veterans you hire the opportunity to speak with someone in confidence, or provide a way that they might be able to deal with their symptoms more effectively.
• Ask yourself why you want to hire a veteran? It shouldn’t be because it’s a tax break, the patriotic thing to do, good for business, or because you feel sorry for them. Their goal isn’t to be considered a charity project, but to have an opportunity to prove they are the right person for the job.
Croft says that since one of five veterans currently suffer from PTSD, and more troops are on their way home, it would be beneficial if all companies would start taking measures to accommodate veterans in the civilian workforce.
Let us all welcome our returning veterans and give them a chance to contribute. Let’s all do what others fail to do.
• Marvin Walberg is a job-search coach based in Birmingham, Ala. For contact information, see marvin-walberg.com.