By SSG Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom
“What do you think the most frequently requested accommodation is for people with disabilities in the workforce?” Lisa Stern, National Resource Directory, asked the employers during the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)/traumatic brain injury (TBI) recognition and response session at the Wounded Warrior Employer Conference.
“The most frequently requested accommodation for people with disability in the workforce as a whole is a flexible schedule. Does that really cost money? Not really,” Stern said. “Usually you get more out of people when you’re flexible then when you make them come from a certain time to a certain time.”
This was just one bit of information provided to the audience during this session by Stern and COL Irwin Lenefsky, Behavioral Health Consultant, Warrior Transition Command.
During the session, the two speakers reiterated that transition is not necessarily what it appears to be and explained how many people make assumptions about military members and disabilities.
According to Stern, it is important to determine the accommodations needed for success, because individuals live with PTSD instead of suffering from PTSD.
The back-and-forth informative session by the two speakers and the presentation showing some of the potential impact, symptoms, and additional ways to help wounded, ill, and injured Veterans adapt in their work environment provided valuable insight into people living with PTSD and TBI.
“PTSD is classified as an anxiety disorder in the mental health realm,” Lenefsky said. “It is something that someone works through, throughout their life.”
Speakers asked if the audience had ever experienced some of the symptoms such as headaches, memory problems, or personality changes which can be experienced by individuals living with PTSD and TBI.
Many of them seemed to nod their heads up and down. Not that they thought they had PTSD or TBI, but the idea of understanding what some of the wounded, ill, and injured Veterans are living with on a daily basis, seemed to resonate with the idea that they cope with some of the same symptoms.
Before the end of the session, the ideas of flexible schedules, providing more or longer work breaks, providing additional time to learn new opportunities, provide job sharing opportunities if possible, and encouraging an employee to use a daily to do list or providing a daily list were a few examples of accommodations that may be overlooked with employing servicemembers or Veterans living with PTSD and TBI.
“It truly just takes one. One employer…one job…one Veteran,” Stern said. “Helping people understand this is the path to PTSD. It’s not the same for everyone.”