Here’s a sad but predictable situation. Veterans generally have worse unemployment rates than the general population, although there has been an anomalous improvement recently. Some employers make special a special effort to hire veterans, but others make another kind of special effort – they shy away from hiring guys who might have “flashbacks.” Yeah, that old stereotype has not died yet.
I can sympathize….no, I just feel sorry for these ignorant people. Of course an employer has to be careful in hiring. The article says that small employers are the most reluctant simply because they don’t have the depth or resources to deal with what they perceive to be special needs employees. And that really is a valid reason to be careful. But this goes beyond caution. The sense I get is that these employers are more just afraid of the unknown than making calculated decisions.
“In large part, that’s because just below the simple math of supply and demand, a dark group-psychology seems to be at play, Carruthers said. Battle-related mental illness — diagnosed in some returning veterans but apparently associated with all of them — is tainting many or most job-hunting veterans.
“The stigma of PTSD is at the top of the list,” said Carruthers, president and CEO of the Disability Management Employer Coalition, a nonprofit.
“These veterans are exactly the kinds of people you’d want to hire — they’re used to working as a team; they’re loyal; you give them an order and they follow through,” Carruthers said. “So some of this is related to the types of injuries we’re seeing — and, I would say, really, due to the fear of employers in terms of bringing back these people. If they were coming home with broken legs, it would be a different thing. There’s a fear factor.”
And if they only knew….how many of their other workers have PTSD to one degree or another, they would be horrified, I guess. When I was in the Washington National Guard, one of our Sergeants major served often on medical elimination boards for guys returning from deployment with PTSD issues – because she herself was a PTSD sufferer as a result of domestic abuse! She was valued as a board member because she was considered to have a special insight into the problem. So what are these employers going to do – get hinky about hiring DV survivors?
What’s really going on is a form of othering. Given the rates of citizens actually serving in the military, the military has become about as marginal and mysterious a sub-culture as the Amish. People just don’t know what to think about veterans, and they take the counsel of their fears just to stay safe. Maybe that’s where we should start.