Wounded Warrior Careers demonstration Program New hope for wounded warriors: An innovative approach to helping today’s veteran succeed… SpriNg 2011 Wounded Warrior Careers Program supporters Anonymous – San Francisco Susan Vail Berresford The Bob Woodruff Foundation Aspen Community Foundation AstraZeneca The Cannon Foundation Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation Charles Stewart Mott Foundation nod: a Catalyst for Chrysler Foundation for disability employment Cumberland Community Foundation The National Organization on Disability The Dallas Foundation is one of the oldest cross-disability Dartmouth College Alan reich Legacy Fund organizations in the country. A key player in bringing about reforms in disability The Duke Endowment policy and practice, NOD now focuses on El pomar Foundation increasing opportunities for the seventy- nine percent of working-age Americans The Ford Foundation with disabilities who are not employed. Kessler Foundation W.K. Kellogg Foundation NOD develops and evaluates pioneering programs that can be scaled for higher Lockheed Martin impact, and conducts research aimed at McCormick Foundation understanding the employment gap for people with disabilities. The Meadows Foundation MetLife Foundation robert Wood Johnson Foundation rose Community Foundation Joyce and Donald rumsfeld Foundation The Starr Foundation UpS Foundation Wellpoint Z. Smith reynolds Foundation S iNCE 2001, more than 40,000 wounded Wounded Warrior Careers program military personnel have returned from iraq or Afghanistan, approximately one-third of them with life-altering injuries. These disabilities often demand a long and difficult period of recovery and adjustment — but they need not be a barrier to civilian employment, income, and independence. Too often, seriously wounded service mem- bers lack the training and resources to adapt their military experience and new disabilities to successful civilian careers. The waste of their talents and abilities, and its impact on thousands of military families, is a completely 1 preventable national tragedy. in 2007, the US Army asked the National Organization on Disability (NOD) to design a solution. The result of this collaboration is the Wounded Warrior Careers Demonstration, in which hundreds of the most severely injured veterans and their families have begun plan- ning and preparing for careers, enrolling in school or training programs, taking jobs, and moving ahead. in three years, the Army and NOD have “The National Organization built a scalable model and helped hundreds on Disability’s Wounded of veterans and their families successfully Warrior Careers program has reintegrate. helped me to support myself and allowed me to open doors that, due to my injures, once seemed closed.” Scott Vycital, US Army Specialist (Ret.) prOVEN rESULTS NOD’s model is built on Career Specialists are National Organization on Disability research involving hundreds deployed in Colorado, North of injured soldiers and their Carolina, and Texas. families. The demonstration program delivers a tightly Two years into the integrated web of supports demonstration, over two- that is personal, prolonged, thirds of the more than 250 and proactive. participants are employed or actively engaged in education research showed that or training. This is twice the severely wounded warriors rate of those without NOD’s need more specialized support. career transition assistance 2 68% of Wounded than is provided through existing programs. in The Department of Defense and the Army have asked Warrior Careers response, NOD recruited and NOD to expand the Careers trained a team of Career Demonstration to more participants are employed Specialists — workforce states. The program’s data- or in education or job development experts, many collection, which is producing training – twice the rate with military backgrounds longitudinal information on of wounded warriors — to work with wounded participants’ experience in veterans and their families. the program, shows that the not enrolled in NOD’s NOD’s Career Specialists offer program has not only achieved program. sustained career counseling, what it set out to do, but that mentoring, and support and a great deal more can be make effective connections accomplished. among the often over- whelming array of services available to veterans. The An NOD Career Specialist testifies before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. NEW CHALLENgES, NEW SOLUTiONS Even for veterans without severe disabilities, the challenges of transitioning home from a military career to the civilian workforce can be daunting. Today’s veterans are older and Wounded Warrior Careers program far more likely to have spouses and children. These veterans are transitioning in the middle of their careers. Their abilities and expecta- tions are far above the entry level positions sought by veterans of previous wars. Despite their considerable experience, they are less likely to have held a full-time civilian job, prepared a résumé, or experienced a non- military job interview. Most wounded warriors served repeated tours of duty doing work for which there are few obvious civilian Army Staff Sgt. (Ret.) James Williams with his wife, Jennifer. equivalents. Today’s wounded warriors must rEBOUND: learn new skills while adapting to visible and invisible injuries, the impact of which we do 3 not yet completely understand. James Williams’ Story Seventy-five percent of Army Wounded Following traumatic brain and associated Warriors experience post Traumatic Stress injuries, James Williams was rated 100% Disorder (pTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain disabled. He thought he’d never work injuries (TBi) — disabilities many employers again. and educators are unfamiliar with. Moreover, returning service members and their families Working with NOD Career Specialist, often find themselves entangled in a perplex- Dwayne Beason, James revealed his ing web of benefits and services — which is all passion for basketball. A 6’6” center, he the more challenging for veterans coping with had turned down a college basketball physical, cognitive, and emotional recovery. scholarship to join the Army. Dwayne got James a job coaching youth basketball at the local community center. Now enrolled in a Bachelor’s program for school counselors, James plans to coach in public schools as well. Along the way, Dwayne also helped James’ wife, Jennifer, complete an Today’s wounded warriors must learn accelerated degree program so she new skills while adapting to visible and could help support the family while invisible injures. NOD Career Specialists, James finishes his degree. familiar with the effects of PTSD and TBI, help families, educators and employers understand them and know how to respond. pErSONAL, prOLONgED, The Wounded Warrior Careers skills, and coping techniques National Organization on Disability AND prOACTiVE: Demonstration program’s for the inevitable obstacles and success in overcoming these setbacks. A MODEL THAT challenges makes it an im- WOrKS portant model, with replicable lessons for other workforce spouses, children, parents, and siblings are vital to a veteran’s programs. This model is built journey. personal service on three pillars: personal en- means not only individual gagement, prolonged involve- attention, but a focus on home ment, and proactive support. and family. indeed, 30 percent of participating veterans’ PersonaL: support spouses are benefitting from NOD’s career assistance. 4 Returning service tailored to individual veterans and their every veteran’s circumstances members and their families are different. Direct, face- Financial management skills to-face contact between the families often find Career Specialist and the fam- are often dangerously lacking themselves entangled ily is critical to supporting the as service members move in a perplexing web of from military to civilian veteran’s career goals. in par- benefits and services — careers — especially when ticular, the devastating effect that transition is unplanned. of sudden and severe injury — which is all the more often encompassing emotional Delayed benefits, relocation challenging for veterans and cognitive injuries — can costs, and significantly re- coping with physical, duced income force many lead to depression and a loss of cognitive, and emotional veterans’ families into ex- self-confidence that undermine treme financial need, which a veteran’s ability to trust an recovery. adviser and envision opportuni- can in turn derail career prog- ress. NOD Career Specialists ties. NOD’s veteran-centered work closely with veteran model keeps Career Specialists’ families to ensure adequate caseloads low, enabling them financial planning and to work intensively with each budgeting. veteran over time. Career action Plans with ProLonged: support clear steps are critical. plans that lasts through the include not just steps toward a desired career path, but all entire transition supporting elements of Sustained mentoring and the journey: physical and intensive support are often mental health, support for needed for months, even years, the family, independent living to help veterans succeed Sergeant Leonard Mason, US Army (Ret.) through the many stages and Wounded Warrior Careers program reversals of reintegration. NOD stays involved long after an Captain James Howard, US Army (Ret.) initial job or education place- ment, developing alternatives if NOD Career Specialists often schools or employment are not meet with educators or pro- initially successful. spective employers ahead of time, to pave the way for ProaCtiVe: Preparing success in school and work. for next steps, anticipating NOD maintains these rela- tionships over time, to help obstacles keep a path open for veterans’ Even experienced counselors 5 advancement. As a result, 93 find it difficult to navigate the percent of participants pursu- complex web of benefits and ing education have stuck with NOD’s Career Specialists services for veterans. For veter- it and are completing their offer veterans and their ans with long rehabilitation and coursework. And 75 percent families intensive and training paths ahead, a missed of employed participants have opportunity or missing resource stayed on the job longer than sustained career can make the difference be- 12 months. counseling, mentoring tween success and failure. To be and support, and work sure that benefits and services addressing the unique closely with other service are available when needed, demands of Ptsd and tBi is NOD’s Career Specialists work integral to NOD’s approach. providers — rather than closely with other providers, NOD Career Specialists, who simply providing referrals. rather than simply providing are familiar with the effects of referrals. pTSD and TBi, help families, educators, employers, and emergency funds can bridge service providers understand the gaps through which too them and know how to many veterans fall. Despite best respond. efforts, some public benefits don’t come through when need- ed. NOD maintains a reserve of flexible support funds that can be critical for avoiding the short-term crises that derail veterans and families. schools and employers often need help recognizing the potential of wounded warriors. Senator Dan Inouye with Specialist (Ret.) Scott Vycital and his wife, Jarah. Wounded Warrior recognizing that many organizations serve veterans with Careers: disabilities, the Army and NOD designed a scalable program that can be replicated by other service providers and generate A prOgrAM valuable information for the field. BUiLT ON As part of the Wounded Warrior Careers program analysis, NOD EViDENCE AND collects data on each participant at every step. Metrics include type and severity of disability; previous education; job skills; DriVEN BY DATA marital status; services received; and progress in jobs, education, and training. These data inform both the wounded warrior’s personalized reintegration plan and the course of the demonstration as a whole. 68% of participants are employed, in education in addition to quantitative tracking, NOD surveys participants or work training every 18 months to gauge satisfaction in education and employment and identify trends that inform our career efforts. 93% of veterans pursuing education are attending NOD’s ongoing research clearly shows that programs designed or have completed for veterans of previous conflicts are not adequate for the wounds coursework and demographics of today’s military. it also demonstrates that even with the most serious injuries, disability is not a barrier 75% of those employed have to rewarding careers and successful re-integration into civilian stayed in their job longer society. than 12 months Most of all, the Wounded Warrior Careers Demonstration is 80% of participants who are showing that standing by service members who have made employed are in jobs profound sacrifices for our country can be a cost-effective way with benefits to ensure that the country continues to benefit from the proven 22% are participating in talents, abilities, and determination of its injured veterans. volunteer programs 30% of spouses are benefiting from career assistance national organization on disability New York 5 East 86th Street, New York, NY 10028 TEL: 646.505.1191 FAX: 646.505.1184 Washington 1625 K Street NW, Suite 850, Washington, DC 20006 TEL: 202.293.5960 FAX: 202.506.1968 TDD: 202.293.5968 nod.org Specialist Danelea Kelly, US Army (Ret.) Photo credits: KammenPhotography.com and Kevin Allen Photography.
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