Military service is one of the most demanding careers. It can present further challenges when it comes to returning to civilian life. According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, up to 27 percent of veterans experience considerable difficulties when returning to the workforce. The proportion is much higher for veterans who served in the military in the ten years following the 9/11 attacks. The majority of service members successfully navigate a number of deployment stressors to return to civilian life. However, nearly all veterans still experience some degree of difficulty. To learn more, checkout the infographic below.

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Demographics Behind Readjustment to Civilian Life

Pew researchers looked closely at the reasons behind the difficulties when reintegrating. They wanted to understand why some former soldiers coped better than others. To achieve this objective, the researchers analyzed a wide variety of demographic characteristics in addition to experiences and attitudes.

The study revealed that veterans who graduated from college or served as commissioned officers generally cope better with re-entry to civilian life. On the other hand, service members who are high school graduates and enlisted personnel are far more likely to struggle in readjusting to post-military life.

Researchers in the study also discovered that service members with a clear understanding of their missions adjust better when compared to those who did not fully comprehend their assignments. Experiencing emotionally traumatic events makes the transition trickier. The same applies to members who suffered a serious injury.

The study showed that lingering consequences of these traumatic experiences are striking. This is exemplified by the odds of reintegration faced by veterans who served in combat missions and those whose colleagues were seriously injured or killed. There is a marked difference between the difficulties encountered by veterans who served in Vietnam or the World War II/Korean War era and those who were operational during the post 9/11 period.

The study also identified two additional factors that impact successful re-entry. A significant number of soldiers who were married while they served in combat missions experience more difficulties readjusting than their single counterparts.

Conversely, highly religious service members have an easier time adjusting to post-military life. According to an analysis, military personnel involved in religious services at least once a week have up to 67 percent chance of adjusting easily to civilian life.

Researchers discovered that variables, such as race, ethnicity, age, having young children while serving, length of service and number of deployments were poor predictors of reintegration experiences.

Veterans in the Workplace

Organizations can create an ideal environment for veterans by adopting a culture that allows personnel to feel comfortable talking about challenges they face in the workplace. This includes discussing matters that affect performance and productivity. Former service members may contend with physical disabilities, mental health concerns and other personal issues, which have a bearing on overall performance.

Human resource professionals and business managers should play a proactive part in helping veterans cope. It is important to leverage the available resources aimed at supporting employees. These include the human resource office, financial counseling, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and more.

Employees must be informed of these options. Providing a broader selection of resources allows individuals to find the ideal support that satisfies specific needs. The list can be given to employees during the on-boarding process or integrated into the procedures and policies manual. Alternatively, it can be posted on the company website to ensure ease of access.

Voluntary Education Programs

The Department of Defense (DoD) provides access to the voluntary education program. The initiative enables service members to take advantage of this extensive continuing education program. It is one of the largest in the world and attracts up to 300,000 enrollments in postsecondary courses every year. The courses typically lead to advanced qualifications, including associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees.

The courses are delivered through an extensive network of colleges and universities. The institutions conduct classes at many military installations around the world. The DoD also encourages service members to enroll in courses that are conducted outside of traditional classrooms. Individuals earn college credits when they opt for this route.

The voluntary education programs available to military personnel include basic academic skills, GEDs, high school completion, college and credit by exam. In addition, they incorporate both on and off military installation college courses, licensure and certification, among others. There are more than 200 hundred education centers dotted around the world, including contingency areas like Afghanistan.

Two- or four-year programs are available online, by distance learning, on-campus, on-installation or off-installation. All educational institutions involved in the voluntary education program must be accredited by a body recognized by the Department of Education. The DoD pays tuition assistance directly to the institutions.

Federal Job Opportunities For Veterans

In times of a tough job market, veterans with a service-connected disability face higher levels of unemployment. This trend led lawmakers and companies to introduce affirmative action initiatives aimed at boosting employment rates. On the other hand, the federal government created the veterans preference program that gives service members a competitive advantage over their civilian counterparts.

The initiative is designed to benefit veterans and disabled service members when it comes to finding federal jobs. The program recognizes the obligation owed to the former members of the armed forces who sacrifice a lot during times of strife. The law allows veterans to claim this preference on their federal job application.

To take advantage of the initiative, veterans must meet certain criteria. They should have a general and honorable discharge. The service members are required to achieve a score of 70 or higher on a written evaluation. In addition, they must have a rank that is lower than lieutenant commander or major. The only exception to this rule is that they are disabled.

Meeting these requirements is a sure-fire way to add between five and 10 points to the overall numerical ratings. However, this is dependent on the type of veteran preference that’s involved. Service-connected disability of 10 percent or more allows service members to get ahead of other veterans on the preference list during the job application process. However, it should be noted that this does not apply to professional or scientific positions.

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