Best Jobs and Career Advice for Veterans

Coming back home and living as a civilian can be a challenge for any veteran, but it is especially difficult for one of the hundreds of thousands of vets who return home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that nearly 31% of Vietnam veterans, 10% of Gulf War/Desert Storm vets, 11% of Afghanistan war vets, and 20% of Iraq war vets suffer from PTSD. Of course, veterans have skills that are attractive to employers and can be productive and efficient members of the workforce, even if they suffer from PTSD. It is important to recognize that veterans may need some help and support to make the transition to the workforce more manageable and successful.

Take time and be sure you are ready to enter the workforce

People with PTSD often need some time when they return home. They need to recover, learn coping skills, and receive help and treatment from a qualified medical professional. Veterans who have experienced multiple deployments and combat exposure of any degree are at a higher risk for substance abuse or addiction, and coming home with PTSD can lead to self-medicating with drugs and/or alcohol. As such, entering the workforce too early is not recommended for veterans with PTSD because their physical and mental well-being must come first. Being mentally prepared for obtaining a job should be the first step in the job search process for a vet with PTSD.  

Fortunately, veterans with PTSD can thrive in a new job or career when they find one that supports their needs and situation and they have adjusted to civilian life. Understanding that PTSD is viewed as a disability and allows for special accommodations is another step toward being prepared to enter the workforce. While you may not want to disclose your PTSD to a new employer, you may want to keep in mind that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects you and empowers you to ask for a quiet break space, seek a service dog, or any other accommodation that you need to conduct your work more successfully.

Be aware of the triggers

While searching for a job, avoid any environment that could be a trigger. For example, avoid loud shipping areas or certain factory situations if loud noises cause you to experience PTSD symptoms. Other veterans may be triggered by certain lighting conditions or workspace layouts, so ask to tour the facility or ask about those conditions before accepting a job offer.

One of the most important things a veteran with PTSD should be on the lookout for when searching for a job is the level of stress associated with the position and the organization itself. High-stress situations are a common trigger for individuals with PTSD, so avoiding typically stressful jobs is a smart move, especially for a first civilian job. The most stressful jobs of 2016 include firefighter, airline pilot, police officer, event coordinator, public relations executive, senior corporate executive, broadcaster, newspaper reporter, and taxi driver.

Search for a job that matches your interests

Of course, a job that may be stressful for one person may not necessarily be stressful for someone else. Being a mail carrier has been identified as a high-stress job, yet some people seek out these positions because they want a job that allows them to be outside, visit with people, and follow a routine. Some veterans with PTSD choose other jobs that get them outdoors but allow them to be their own boss, such as nursery owner, gardener, or landscaper. The key is to choose a job that matches your interests, because it naturally would be a low-stress position if it gives you the opportunity to do something that you enjoy.

Other positions that are highly recommended for veterans with PTSD include working in nature as a park ranger or other natural area that has a calming influence. Some people who suffer from PTSD find that working with animals is a good option because petting and working with animals has been shown to lower stress, anxiety, and blood pressure.

Coming home and gaining employment are high on the priority list for veterans. There are certain steps to take to ensure the transition to a job or career goes as smoothly as possible for veterans who suffer from PTSD.

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Erica Francis is passionate about helping young people prepare for careers in a tough job market. She enjoys developing rich lesson plans and other educational resources. Some of her lesson plans can be found on ReadyJob.org.

Image via Pixabay by angelmartine09

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February 7, 2017