Most employers are "unprepared" for the return of wounded veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and will have difficulty meeting their needs, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Insurance Information Institute (III).
At least 16,600 U.S. soldiers have been wounded, and many more of the 2 million who may serve in those arenas before the conflicts end could be traumatized, according to Robert Hartwig, chief economist for the III and author of the study. Nearly a third of those troops are reservists and National Guard, who will be going back to their previous jobs. Hartwig said his survey shows that most employers don't understand their needs or the special benefits they're entitled to.
"These soldiers put their lives on the line and deserve the utmost respect," said Hartwig. "But even big companies haven't thought about their obligations to these people." Veterans are entitled to lifelong benefits, including mental health benefits. In addition, there are worker compensation issues for those wounded in battle or accidents, or have been traumatized by being in a war zone.
Wounded veterans are protected against discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). More than half a billion dollars in fines has been levied on companies since 1992 for their failure to comply with this law.
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More information from Bankrate.com:
A study by the Insurance Information Institute, or III, reports that the average soldier in Iraq has a 1-in-300 chance of being wounded in action. Department of Defense statistics reveal that nearly 500 personnel are wounded in action in any given month. Extrapolating from these figures, the III study estimates that, absent a significant drawdown of troop strength in the near future, 60,000 to 80,000 troops may ultimately end up wounded.
Government programs and facilities are overwhelmed, and civilian employers and health-care providers also must prepare to deal with wounded and traumatized vets in the years to come.
"While the vast majority of military personnel will enjoy a relatively seamless re-entry to civilian life and employment, following a pattern established by veterans of past conflicts, reintegration of the physically and psychologically injured will likely present unexpected challenges to a generation of employers with no experience in dealing with such large numbers of returning veterans," says Robert Hartwig, author of the III study and the institute's chief economist.
Read the rest of the piece for some solid information on how the military handles injuries and links for veteran legal and financial support and assistance.
- 44% of Reserve Forces Dissatisfied with Labor Department Employment Discrimination Help
- Advice for OEF/OIF Vet Employers and Co-Workers
- Veterans: Job Search Resources
- Caring for Returning Vets, Not a Cost of Waging War?
- OIF Reserve/National Guard Forces Especially Feeling Burden of War
- WaPo: Army Reserves Feel the Pinch of Increased Operation Tempo
- Ed Schultz Show: Reintegration Program Discussion Wednesday
- BusinessWeek Covers Unique Struggles of the Reservist-Entrepreneur
- Surge -- And Strain
- Unacceptable: National Guard Makes Post-deployment Mental Health Screening Optional
- NYT Magazine Covers Experiences of National Guard in Iraq
- Financial To-Do List for Returning Reservists
- New Jersey: 25% of Troops Returning with Problems
- Boston Psychologists Reach Out to Help Army Reserve Families
- Returning Troops Battle Unemployment