From missing limbs and traumatic brain injuries to hearing loss and post-traumatic stress disorder, Veterans can enter the civilian world with a host of disabilities. Despite these challenges, most disabled Veterans are more than capable of working post-military. As we’ve discussed previously, Veterans easily adapt to a variety of workplaces despite any limitations. If you’re a business looking to hire — and retain — former soldiers, making accommodations to support disabled Veterans is key to all-around success.
Here are five of SAVI’s best tips to support disabled Veterans in the workplace.
1. Train Your Managers
Successful support of disabled Veterans in your workspace starts at the top. It’s important that you know how to manage the various readjustments that any Veteran, disabled or not, may have in his new civilian work environment. The VA has plenty of resources and information devoted specifically to this topic. Find the training that works for your business and equip your managers with the knowledge they need to better serve your Veteran employees.
2. Encourage Flexibility
Veteran workplace preferences will differ depending on the disability. If suffering a brain injury, a Vet may require quiet workplaces with minimal distractions. For them, a good set of sound-proof headphones could go a long way to encourage productivity. Those with PTSD, however, may view silence as a distraction. Playing low background music or sitting them near a window may be beneficial for these individuals. Regardless of preferences, it’s important to encourage your Veteran employees to find what works best for them and then be flexible.
3. Provide Resources
Many Veteran-accommodating businesses have found that mentoring programs thrive in the workplace. By creating these mentorship programs between employees, you’re able to support your team and facilitate a much smoother transition for Veterans new to the civilian sector. Mentors are typically seasoned employees who are able to answer questions, provide insight and serve as a friendly face around the office.
In addition to this mentor program, provide additional resources to disabled Veterans with more severe needs, whether they be medical or emotional. Connect them with local community groups and ensure they are informed about the counseling options in your area that specifically support disabled Veterans.
4. Create a Culture of Inclusiveness
One of the most important ways to support disabled Veterans in the workplace is by creating a culture of inclusiveness. First and foremost, make sure your business can easily accommodate those Veterans with physical disabilities. This includes handicap accessible entrances, exits, and bathrooms as well as keeping hallways devoid of clutter and office furniture spaced appropriately. Ask your employees, Veteran or otherwise, what they need to feel supported in their job. By making such accommodations, your employees will feel thought of and included.
5. Acknowledge Military Service
If you’re already making adjustments for your Veteran employees, you clearly care about their success at your company. Why not take it a step further and acknowledge their prior service through special honors or rewards? This could mean giving all Veterans the day off for holidays like Veterans Day, recognizing them in your company newsletter or providing free lunch to all Veteran employees on specified days.
Veterans have sacrificed greatly for our country. Many have put their mental and physical health at risk and spent significant amounts of time away from their families. Creating workplace accommodations for our disabled Veterans is one small way to truly thank them for their service. When including Veterans in your workplace, keep in mind that all needs differ and that some disabilities are more severe than others. If you’re flexible, resourceful, and inclusive, you will reap the many benefits that come with hiring Veterans.
Are you an employer of Veterans?
Check out our employer programs and certificates. Visit www.savivets.org/organization to learn how we can help you serve and support Veterans in your workplace. We can even connect you with transitioning Veterans looking for employment!
Are you a Veteran?
SAVI loves to connect with and support Veterans transitioning into the civilian workplace. Reach out today or visit www.savivets.org/veteran to learn more about the free help our SAVI experts can provide to transitioning Veterans.