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New campaign encourages companies to hire vets

Nov. 19, 2012 - 04:08PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 19, 2012 - 04:08PM  |  
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Evidence that employers are reluctant to hire veterans due to their potential physical and psychological injuries has prompted the Army to launch a new effort to educate businesses and encourage them to hire former service members.

The Army has joined with the Society for Human Resources Management, the nation's largest trade association of hiring professionals, to create the "Hire a Veteran" campaign.

"We've realized that we need to help prepare employers and HR professionals and ensure that their concerns aren't a deterrent to employing these great veterans," said Brig. Gen. David Bishop, commander of the Army's Warrior Transition Command, at a press briefing in Washington on Monday.

The campaign's central message is that hiring veterans is not only a way to support former service members, but also simply good for a company by bringing in new, effective employees with valuable skills and experience.

"This campaign is about setting the conditions, not just about preparing our soldiers for new careers, but preparing our employers for this unique population that has so much to offer to their bottom line," Bishop said.

The effort includes a video as well as online resources for employers who may have questions about where to find job-hunting veterans, as well as what their legal responsibilities might be under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A recent survey of hiring managers nationwide revealed that 43 percent of employers cite post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury as a potential challenge when hiring people with military experience.

Some 52 percent of employers say veterans are likely to struggle with the transition from the structured and hierarchical culture in the military to a civilian work environment, according to the survey, conducted by the Society for Human Resources Managers.

The "Hire a Veteran" campaign includes extensive information for employers about their requirements under federal law, which says employers must provide "reasonable accommodations" for veterans with a service-related disability.

"The first step for employers is to understand that not all vets need accommodations, and if they do need accommodations, sometimes it is easily made. PTSD is severe in some and not so severe in others" said Jeff Pon, the Society of Human Resource Management's chief strategy officer, who also attended the briefing Monday.

While the survey showed that a majority of employers said accommodating veterans costs money, about 83 percent of those same employers said those costs were outweighed by the benefits the veterans brought to the workplace.

In many cases, providing reasonable accommodations might involve nothing more than providing an ergonomic chair for a veteran with a back injury, or allowing someone with PTSD to avoid sitting at a desk with his or her back to the door.

"We also want to drive home the fact that providing reasonable accommodations for a veteran in the workplace is not difficult, inordinately expensive or a burden — especially when compared to the value that these great Americans bring to each organization," Bishop said.

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