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Organization Works to Reduce High Veteran Unemployment


Nearly half of all military veterans returning to the workforce leave their jobs in the first year. But one organization, the National Organization on Disability, is helping employers focus on retaining, not just recruiting, veterans to the workforce.

The unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans in Indiana is more than double the state average. Nationally, the turnover rate for veterans returning to the workforce is about 50 percent in the first year, and about 75 percent within two years. 

Franklin Hagenbeck is a retired lieutenant general and sits on the Board of Directors of the National Organization on Disability.  He says the group has developed a guide for employers on ways to accommodate veterans in the workplace.

“Being prepared to adjust work hours, if you will, to be a little bit more flexible.  And we would even suggest that sometimes it doesn’t even make sense to bring in veterans for full time employment,” Hagenbeck said. “They just may want to bring them in initially as an intern or someone that they can just show them what the program looks like, to see if it’s a good fit for them as well.”

Hagenbeck says employers must be aware of the so-called “invisible wounds” – post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.  He says providing veterans with a sponsor or mentor in the workplace is key.

“Because these veterans over time, when they get to know somebody closely like that, will share things with them that they would never begin to tell their supervisor,” he added.

Hagenbeck says employers must also examine their company’s culture before hiring a veteran.  He says trying to shoehorn in a returning vet to a workplace they’re not suited for helps no one.