America’s Heroes At Work

August 22, 2008

With the number of wounded warriors who are medically discharged because their injuries prevent them from continuing their career in the military, the dilemma arises about how those veterans are going to be able to support themselves and their families. Several non-profit agencies, the VA and others have come forward with programs that help these veterans obtain education and employment, so that they’re able to rejoin the workforce. The government has also stepped up to the plate with different educational and employment initiatives, to help our wounded warriors in this transition. A new program, called Americas Heroes At Work is one such program.

One veteran, who exemplifies the America’s Heroes At Work, is former SSG Michael Bradley. Bradley was medically retired last year as a result of the signature wounds of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq …. PTSD and TBI. Bradley was a 6 year veteran of the Army, serving as a medic with 4th Infantry Division when he was injured, as a result of a blast from a roadside bomb, while serving in Baqubah, Iraq.

“I was driving a high-profile individual,” recalled Bradley, a former staff sergeant with the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. “All I remember is that I saw the flash, and I pulled him to get him out of the way of the blast. That’s all I remember.”1

Moments after he saw the flash, a 155 mm mortar, where Bradley had been sitting. The blast knocked him unconscious, which caused him to slump out of his seat, probably saving his life. Though he escaped without any major physical injuries, the memory of the event, has haunted him since then. So much so, that even the sound of a door slamming, puts him on edge.

“I went to Disneyland, and the cannons starting firing off the ship,” Bradley recalled. “And here I am low-crawling across the ground, knowing full well that I’m in Disneyland, but my body’s reacting.

“My mind is saying, ‘Get up you fool.’ But my body’s saying, ‘No. I’m not going to do it,’” he said.2

Because of his involvement with America’s Heroes At Work, Bradley was hired as an analyst with Halfacre and Associates in February. That job has proved to be pivotal in not only his transition from the Army to the civilian sector, but in his recovery as well. It’s helped him to realize that the skills he learned in the Army would transfer into the civilian world and provided him with the incentive to continue to work towards his recovery. He truly exemplifies the America’s Heroes At Work program.

“To get back into the work force and be able to see that I can succeed [and that] what I wrote down on my resume is true, and that I can do it, and I have a lot to offer … has really decreased stress,” he said. “To overcome those obstacles, and being able to be out in the work force, has really helped emphasize that I can do it and I can succeed.”3

From the America’s Heroes At Work website, a little about the program and their extremely worthwhile mission.

About America’s Heroes at Work
America’s Heroes at Work is a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) project that focuses on the employment challenges of returning service members living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The project equips employers and the workforce development system with the tools they need to help returning service members affected by TBI and/or PTSD succeed in the workplace - particularly service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Collaborative Effort
America’s Heroes at Work is managed jointly by DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) in collaboration with other federal agencies engaged in TBI and PTSD programs, including the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and Education, the Small Business Administration, the Social Security Administration and others.

Leading Injuries, Significant Challenges
Due to advances in military medicine and protective equipment, increased numbers of service members are surviving the injuries they sustain on the battlefield. However, the changing combat landscape has caused a sharp increase in TBI and PTSD, which are increasingly recognized as leading injuries of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hundreds of thousands of brave men and women will be coping with the challenges of TBI and PTSD as they reenter civilian life, today and for many years to come.

Although their injuries may not be visible, service members with TBI or PTSD may face difficulties, especially with respect to employment. These individuals may suffer from headaches, vertigo, balance problems, anxiety and sleep disturbance, among other symptoms. They also may have cognitive symptoms including short-term memory deficits, poor concentration and decision-making difficulties. All of these can interfere with everyday activities, inside and outside of the workplace.

Answering the Call
For wounded and injured veterans, employment can play a significant role in the road the recovery. So to help our returning service members succeed in the workplace, America’s Heroes at Work is engaging in a targeted education campaign designed to increase awareness of TBI and PTSD issues among the workforce system and to educate employers on workplace accommodations they can make for these employees.

The project offers a variety of educational resources devoted to improving employment-related outcomes for returning service members with TBI and/or PTSD. Materials include fact sheets, Web-based training tools, educational presentations and more - all designed for employers, workforce development professionals, service branches, key military support systems, veterans’ service organizations and One-Stop Career Centers.4

I’m really impressed with what I’ve read about the program and extremely excited to see the government take such an active role in ensuring our wounded warriors are able to transition into good jobs, by ensuring they have the appropriate education and training and working closely with the employers to ensure the workplace is one that can be supportive of them. It’s awesome to see companies such as Halfacre and Associates taking part in these programs. That tells me that they recognize the valuable asset that a veteran can be to their company.

America’s Heroes At Work Website

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One Response to “America’s Heroes At Work”

  1. dol on September 11th, 2008 2:47 pm

    [...] arises about how those veterans are going to be able to support themselves and their families. New Labor Condition Application Form, ETA 9035The dol Foreign Labor Certification System is [...]

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