By Debbie Gregory.
Although many service members have successfully navigated deployment stressors, readjustment to civilian life, and especially civilian employment, can be challenging for former military personnel. The Center for Talent Innovation, a non-profit “think tank,” has released the results of a new study on veterans assimilating in the civilian workplace.
According to “Mission Critical: Unlocking the Value of Veterans in the Workforce,” nearly a third of U.S. veterans in civilian jobs hide their war injuries from employers. Veterans may have mental health concerns, physical disabilities, or other personal issues that can impact their productivity or performance at work. Additionally, many of them downplay their military service in order to get along with co-workers.
About 28 percent said they lasted six months or less in their first job and another 16.3 percent remained only 7 to 12 months. Why are veterans tuning out and stalling out when it comes to veterans assimilating in the civilian workplace? Almost two-thirds of CTI survey respondents said they felt a greater sense of meaning and purpose in the military than they did in their current job. Many of them say that they feel invisible to their senior leaders, who can’t see their full potential.
“On paper, they are very marketable and most employers jump at the chance to hire them,” said John Muckelbauer, staff counsel for Veterans of Foreign Wars, a group with 1.7 million members around the world. “But once they’re in the door, some find it more difficult to properly assimilate.”
“It’s quite a culture shock to move from the military to the civilian world,” said Linda Huber, chief financial officer of Moody’s Corp, who rose to captain while in the U.S. Army from 1980 to 1984. “Veterans can be very careful about saying too much about their status.”
Employers can ease the transition for veterans assimilating in the civilian workplace by creating a workplace culture that helps people feel comfortable discussing the challenges they face in the workplace.