An HR Professional’s Guide to Welcoming Back and Supporting Veterans In the Workplace

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Editor’s Note: May is Mental Health Awareness month, throughout the month we will feature insights and best practices to help HR professionals accommodate workers with mental health issues. With Memorial Day right around the corner, today’s focus is on supporting veterans in the workplace.

As our country approaches the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I’m reminded of how many people I met during my naval career who joined the military out of sheer patriotism in direct response to those 9/11 terror attacks.

It’s hard for me to believe that many of those people who ended up making the service a career will soon be eligible for a 20-year retirement! It’s estimated that approximately 200,000 people leave the military each year. However, the term “retired” when it comes to military service is often in name only, as the vast majority of this population will continue to work for many years to come.

What should you, as a Human Resources professional, know about supporting these veterans as they return to your workplace?

Transitioning into Civilian Life Has Challenges

Transitioning from military to civilian life can pose challenges. Although many servicemembers have handled the pressures of deployment, their readjustment to civilian life can be more daunting. Disengaging from the familiar, one’s “comfort zone,” and adjusting to an entirely different system of operation place great demands upon veterans. Generally, it can be the cause for frustration, dissatisfaction, and anxiety.

A veteran may find difficulty in adapting to daily common civilian life, which includes life in your workplace. The structure found in the military is imprecise as servicemembers return to the civilian world. Veterans are now responsible for instituting structure within their own life. Any psychological struggles such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) will have to be worked through with professional and personal support.

Entering your workforce presents nerve-racking demands upon the transitioning servicemember. It may be the first time the veteran will have to seek employment in the private sector, having made the military his or her initial career. As I recall my entrance into the civilian world after 30 years of service, I didn’t even know what “business casual” clothing meant!

Having entered the workforce, the veteran may discover a lack of camaraderie, which is a huge part of military service and a strong contributor to mission success. He or she may feel out of place in workplace attire or unfamiliar with conversation topics. After serving in the military, a veteran could have the perception that your workplace “vibe is too lax,” as he or she is used to a disciplined, regimented environment—unlike many offices!

“Every person for themselves” is a strange concept to employees who previously were in military service. But for many transitioning veterans, job security poses the greatest threat. Despite the hardships and multiple deployments, one comes to rely upon the knowledge that a paycheck will always be there. Continue reading here…

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Source: HR Daily Advisor

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