Coming out of the military can be a difficult transition for many, especially as they adjust to new job functions. No longer in an active war zone or a military base, a new job is an adjustment, especially if a veteran has a disability. Many different types of accommodations can be helpful. It’s not just enough to hire veterans in our workforce, but an employer should do everything in their power to help them be successful and thrive. Fortunately, it is not as expensive as many people might think.
Some accommodations are completely free or very inexpensive to implement. The VA has some great suggestions in their Veterans Employment Toolkit. These include flexible work schedules, remote work environments, the ability to adjust lighting, limiting distractions, helping with task prioritization, meditation breaks, and more. These are especially helpful if a veteran is suffering from a mental health disability like Posttraumatic Stress Disorder PTSD or has Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
Organizations like AbleData are a clearinghouse for publications about different types of disability accommodations. Often pointing to the Job Accommodation Network, JAN is helpful by breaking down which type of accommodations are best for each disability, regardless of veteran status or not. There are different challenges that veterans face, and one of the big ones is how to ask for an accommodation or workplace adjustment. Some of these might be more technical, like screen readers for those who are blind, magnifiers for individuals who are Low Vision, ergonomic chairs, wheelchair ramps, chemical free workplaces, speech recognition software, augmented input devices, and countless more.
Laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act protect the right to ask for these, as long as they do not pose an undue burden to the employer. Chances are, they won’t. Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects veterans rights in the workforce. Still, it can be awkward to ask for support in an office setting when a veteran had previous experience in a wildly different landscape. It can be helpful for employers to undergo not just disability sensitivity training, but veteran-specific training to understand the experience of a veteran with a disability more. BrainLine has a great section on employer and employment training, specifically around TBI. JAN even has a special employer’s section that can be broken down by private employers, Federal government employers, state and local government, and more.
The most important thing about accommodations is finding one that works for the worker. Having to retrofit is not a great idea, and nor is having a standardized plan. Having a trial period in the beginning to find the best fit for a workplace is often the key to saving time, resources, and money down the road. This Veteran’s Day, make the pledge to support your workers beyond just a hiring application.