wounded warriors

  • Caring for Wounded Warriors: An All-Hands-On-Deck Enterprise

    “As Commander-in-Chief, I’ll keep doing everything in my power to make sure we serve you as well as you’ve served us. And that means making sure you get the care and the benefits you need. It means making sure you don’t have to fight for a job when you get home. It means recognizing our military families and giving them the support that they deserve.” – President Obama at an event honoring wounded warriors

    The president’s remarks from earlier this year echoed in my head during the recent 2013 Warrior Family Symposium, an event co-sponsored by the Military Officers Association of America and the National Defense Industrial Association. And something that really struck me during the symposium was that caring for our wounded warriors, making sure they have the kind of support the president promised, is an all-hands-on-deck enterprise.

    The federal government has funded many initiatives designed to help our wounded warriors either to rejoin their branch of military service or reintegrate into their local community if they separate from military service. For example, the Army and Marine Corps have created Soldier for Life and Marine for Life programs for this purpose. Our sister agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, delivers the health and other benefits to which our veterans are entitled.

    Another takeaway from the symposium was how critical employment is to the recovery and well-being of our wounded warriors. Having a satisfying job with a degree of responsibility is good for both physical and mental health. And that’s where the Labor Department plays an important role ? particularly the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, the federal government’s lead agency in helping veterans find good jobs in the civilian economy. Here are a few examples of our work:

    • Our wounded warriors get priority of service at more than 2,600 American Job Centers across the country. A majority of the centers have an employee dedicated solely to helping them known as a Disabled Veteran Outreach Program specialist.
    • Together with our colleagues in the Employment and Training Administration, we created an online tool, My Next Move for Veterans, where veterans can enter their military occupation codes and discover civilian occupations for which they are qualified.
    • Working with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, we completely overhauled the Transition Assistance Program (known as TAP), which helps exiting service members prepare for civilian life, including job searching.
    • This year, we launched an initiative to address the unique challenges facing women veterans. To aid service providers who work with women veterans experiencing homelessness, the department’s Women’s Bureau has developed a guide on trauma-informed care.
    • Resources to help employers and workforce development specialists address the employment challenges of veterans living with a traumatic brain injury and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are available through the department’s America’s Heroes at Work website.
    • The department also announced a new regulation this year requiring companies that do business with the federal government to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote and retain veterans.

    Need Time: Guide to Military Caregiver LeaveAnother key takeaway from the symposium is that, while these programs and resources are critical, wounded warriors rely most on the help of family and friends. Their caregivers have to earn a living, so it’s important that we support, too. This is why Congress amended the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide employment protection for caregivers of service members and veterans, for which the Labor Department recently issued new rules. Thanks to the FMLA, caregivers for wounded warriors face one less potential challenge.

    For our wounded warriors, coming home doesn’t mean that the fight is over. In some ways, it’s just begun. We are proud to work with our colleagues in the Labor Department and throughout the federal government to support them and their families.

    Keith Kelly is the assistant secretary of labor for veterans’ employment and training.

    First Responders rely on Go bags that are ready to grab and respond quickly, with the emergency medical supplies they may need for quick casualty assistance First Responders rely on Go bags that are ready to grab and respond quickly, with the emergency medical supplies they may need for quick casualty assistance

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