Accommodations and Support
In an article Harry Croft, MD, former Army doctor and psychiatrist and author of the book, I Always Sit With My Back to The Wall, states Veterans don’t want a job because an employer gets a tax break, thinks it’s patriotic, or feels sorry for them. “Veterans just want to be given opportunities because they are the right person for the job.” (http://hr.blr.com/HR-news/Discrimination/Veterans/Advice-for-Employers-on-Hiring-Vets-with-PTSD/) This is especially true for Veterans with disabilities.
A national study, conducted in 2006 by the University of Massachusetts and America’s Strength Foundation, of consumer attitudes toward companies that hire people with disabilities states: “The public, across all ages and education [levels], views companies that hire people with disabilities as favorably as they do companies that provide health care to all workers and actively protect the environment.” (http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/pages/cms_022609.aspx) However, in a 2007 employer attitude poll conducted by The Able Trust, an organization that supports nonprofit vocational rehabilitation programs throughout the state of Florida, the organization found a lack of knowledge among employers about disability issues. Public misinformation and misconceptions about disabled workers being less productive than workers without disabilities or more costly to employ because of required special accommodations or increased health care benefit costs have had negative impacts on employment for these members of the workforce. (http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/pages/cms_022609.aspx)
The disabilities of any veteran can include a variety of physical and mental conditions. If the veteran has selected to disclose this information, employers are required to accommodate the needs of the veteran, whether physical or mental health related. Veterans need only disclose if/when they need an accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job. Applicants never have to disclose this information on a job application, or in the job interview, unless they need an accommodation to assist them in the application or interview process. If disclosed, employers need to know what those needs are and what can be done.
The accommodations of an employee should be specific to the employee’s disabilities. When accommodating, the employer must consider:
- What limitations is the employee experiencing?
- How do these limitations affect the employee and the employee’s job performance?
- What specific job tasks are problematic, as a result of these limitations?
- What accommodations are available to reduce or eliminate these problems? Are all possible resources being used to determine possible accommodations?
- Has the employee been consulted regarding possible accommodations?
- Once accommodations are in place, would it be useful to meet with the employee to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodations and to determine whether additional accommodations are needed?
- Do supervisory personnel and employees need training regarding the disability?
The cost of accommodating a disabled worker is often less than $500, with many accommodations just the cost of flexibility or creative use of existing materials. “Some accommodations, such as telecommuting, benefit the entire workforce,” said one employer, Debra Ruh, founder and president of Rockville, Va.-based IT consulting and services firm TecAccess.. “If you’re a good employer, you need to accommodate all your employees or someone is going to come and take them from you.” (http://www.shrm.org/hrdisciplines/pages/cms_022609.aspx)
Accommodating the needs of veterans, or any person with a disability, helps an employer create an environment in which all employees can effectively and efficiently perform their jobs. These accommodations also create a welcoming environment and set the tone of the organization’s culture, policies, and structures which, if positive, can lead to long-lasting employment.
Accommodations for Every Disability
Accommodations vary with every disability, but there are some general employer actions that can positively impact the job performance of all persons with disabilities. For more detailed accommodations, please review the information supporting the specific disability.
Information and Available Resources for Accommodations
Information and resources are available to support employers and help disabled veterans (and other employees) work at their highest potential.
Fourteen percent of the total veteran population report having service-connected disabilities. The following are representative of the types of disabilities most common among veterans. A description of the disability, its prevalence in the workforce, and the proposed accommodations are provided for each of the five most common disabilities. Information about specific accommodations and supports for all disabilities can be found at http://askjan.org/media/atoz.htm and links to specific disabilities are provided at the conclusion of each.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Hearing Loss
- Vision Impairments
For more information about these disabilities and for other information and resource sources please refer to the following websites. Information on these sites is updated as new material is available:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)