A 2012 Society for Human Resource Management survey determined that 1 in 3 HR professionals cited Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or other mental health issues as “challenges” to hiring Veterans.
If you happen to be the 1 in 3 people that feel this way, please allow me to share some important information with you. Understanding the invisible wounds of war is vital to any employer in order to dispel the myths surrounding PTSD and other mental and/or physical health conditions, and to learn more about the benefits of incorporating veterans into the workplace. There are many important factors that can help to reduce employers’ concerns about the work impact related to these injuries as well occasional perceived stigma surrounding hiring veterans.
Despite the awareness that has been raised surrounding combat/service related injuries, several employers still report that they avoid hiring veterans. Why? Because of the lingering fear that these veterans may have sustained mental or physical injuries, and not being well informed about the implications associated.
However, the reality is that the number of veterans who have suffered a traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress are just a fraction compared to that of the general US population.
Here are 3 common myths that you may have come across at one point or another:
1) Myth: “PTSD is a ‘Veteran Issue’ and one that no one else can relate to.”
Fact: Post-traumatic stress is simply a normal reaction to an abnormal experience. The reality is that nearly 8% of the US population – or approximately 25.6 million Americans will suffer from PTSD at some point during their lifetime according to the National Center for PTSD. Some individuals may experience PTSD following a natural disaster, a motor vehicle accident, or even from being mugged. While we often associate PTSD with combat and military service, the reality is that anyone can experience PTSD, not just those in the military. You are likely to be working with, or have worked with, someone who has suffered from PTSD and you may not have even known!
2) Myth: “I’ve heard that some Veterans have suffered traumatic brain injuries during combat and that must be a very significant injury.”
Fact: Many people assume that when someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury, they are left with significant brain damage. While this can be true in extreme circumstances, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, 82% of all traumatic brain injuries diagnosed in military members since 2000 are considered mild. To provide further clarification, the most common form of mild TBI is a concussion, and there is typically no functional brain damage associated with this injury.
3) Myth: “A Veteran who has been diagnosed with PTSD will struggle for the rest of their life.”
Fact: Like any other medical or mental health condition, there are all different levels of severity. With the advancement in research and evidence based practices by mental health care specialists, symptoms of PTSD can be greatly reduced and possibly even eliminated with early intervention. In fact, according to the DSM 5, one half of all adults diagnosed with PTSD will have a complete recovery within 3 months of treatment.
I hope the information provided above serves to help further dispel some of the fiction associated with veterans in the workplace. In doing so, we collectively advance towards our overall goal of decreasing stigma surrounding veterans and the invisible wounds of war. These men and women bring so many unique skills and sought after characteristics into the professional workforce. Businesses that recognize this value in veterans, often find more productive employees compared to that of their non-veteran counterparts. This type of talent behavior is what drives companies to be more efficient, productive, and profitable. Any employer that puts a value on military service, creates a win-win environment that benefits not only their bottom line, but also those deserving military veteran job seekers looking for fulfilling careers.