It is estimated that approximately 30,000 service members have been injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom throughout the past several years, with at least 3,000 of those injuries resulting in a major physical impairment. If you or a loved one is injured as a result of a combat injury in support of either OIF or OEF, this article is designed to provide some information on topics ranging from living quarters while receiving treatment, emergency financial assistance if needed, to finding a civilian career when you are ready to enter the workforce.
Once an injured service member is flown back to the United States, it is important for his or her family to be able to stay nearby the health facility to provide emotional support and closeness during a physically and mentally trying time. Several organizations exist to make this a reality for soldiers' families without requiring a financial sacrifice.
The Fisher House™ is a private-public partnership that donates 'comfort homes' on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes allow family members to be close to a loved one during the stressful time of hospitalization and rehabilitation for an injury. The Fisher House™ program originated in 1991 and has served more than 10,000 families and nearly 2.5 million days of lodging in all. There is no charge for a family to stay at a Fisher House, and there is at least one Fisher House™ at every major military medical center.
Operation Homefront opened its doors on July 15, 2008 and welcomed wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Medical Center. The facility offers fully furnished, two- and three-bedroom apartment units, completely rent free. The "OH Villages" also feature extensive community centers, play areas for children, and computers with specialized software to accommodate disabilities. Counselors are available to assist with filing benefit claims and educational needs, such as scholarships and college enrollment, and to help service members train for and find new careers. The villages are open to wounded service members receiving treatment at a nearby military hospital.
When it becomes time to transition from the military and re-enter civilian life, The United States Department of Veterans Affairs offers a website detailing all services for returning OEF and OIF veterans, in the hopes to provide a "seamless transition" from the military. This site can help wounded veterans with health and dental benefits, non-health benefits, and information on housing transition and family services.
If a wounded veteran experiences a financial crisis upon separating from the military, there is help available. For example, Army Emergency Relief, a nonprofit corporation established in 1942 by the Secretary of War and the Army Chief of Staff, provides emergency funds to Army veterans from the time a soldier separates from service, and often extends to dependents. AER provides no-interest loans, grants, or a combination of both, as well as scholarships for college education in some situations.
The next major issue most veterans face is in finding civilian employment. Whether separating voluntarily or due to medical reasons, it can be difficult to find employment, and a disability can make it even harder. In the event that the service member does not feel quite ready to re-enter the workforce or needs some skills development first, programs have been created to aid in the vocational rehabilitation of wounded veterans by providing them opportunity to refresh old skills or develop new ones. The Virginia Department of Transportation began its Wounded Veterans Internship Program in September 2006 and places veterans in positions such as Planning, Finance, Project Management, Security, Procurement, Quality Control, Information Systems, and Engineering. Once veterans complete the paid program, lasting from six months to two years, they can compete for full-time jobs within the VDOT system, or move into the private sector.
The Department of Defense actively recruits veterans for careers, and has a program dedicated specifically to those with disabilities. Further, DoD has a Computer/Electronics Accommodations Program to assist federal employees with disabilities in performing their jobs most effectively. Government defense contractors have discovered a rich pool of talent in wounded veterans, due to the fact that many possess information technology, intelligence, and defense expertise as well as high-level security clearances. For example, CACI International, Inc, has launched a program, Deploying Talent-Creating Careers, and hires for positions such as Quality Assurance Engineer, Contract Specialist, and other positions requiring an Information Technology background.
Aerospace and defense are not the only industries seeking veterans for employment. The Wounded Warrior Project, has developed the Warriors to Work program, a resource for skill-building and career searching for wounded veterans. Veterans are given access to a website with over 150 companies, in all different industries, interested in hiring wounded service members. These companies are seeking the experience, background, and skill set found in veterans and realize the value that veterans bring to their organizations.
In addition, Orion International appreciates the opportunity to represent all veterans in the search for their civilian careers.
Job Opportunities for Disabled American Veterans or www.JOFDAV.com is a national job board that is specific for veterans with disabilities. JOFDAV is in a non profit alliance with the DOD's "America Supports You" initiative. www.JOFDAV.com is listed as a resource on the National Resource Directory, VetSuccess.gov, Disability.gov and the Army's Transition Command to name a few. www.JOFDAV.com offers a non profit alternative to the online recruitment of veterans with disabilities as we work with employers who are proactive in their hiring. New jobs are posted daily with an average of near 20000 active jobs at any given time. As of December 1, 2010 get job alerts emailed to your computer or texted to your cell phone. JOFDAV is a job board property of disABLEDperson, Inc. a 501 (c) 3 Public Charity.
For further information, please visit any of the resources listed below:
- America Supports You: New housing facility welcomes wounded warriors
- Army Emergency Relief
- Fisher House
- Former troops answer new call
- New program helps wounded soldiers find civilian jobs
- Operation Homefront
- US Department of Veterans Affairs Operation Enduring Freedom/ Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Wounded veterans briefed on available services
- Wounded veterans internship program
Find a Wounded Veterans Program in Your State:
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