Many veterans returning from deployment with a disability can feel overwhelmed and frustrated trying to adjust back to civilian life. Furthermore, veterans who are in a wheelchair can be presented with a new set of challenges. Often, returning home can lead to feelings of isolation and loss of purpose, which can be strenuous on both veterans and their families. Fortunately, there are resources available for veterans with disabilities so the transition is not only easier, but utilizing them can help with their overall well-being upon returning home.
Finding a New Job
Veterans with disabilities can often feel lost when it comes to job hunting. Finding a job that is wheelchair or limited mobility friendly takes a lot of time and patience — especially when there are bills to pay, which can leave veterans feeling anxious, stressed, and afraid. However, it’s worth keeping in mind the changing accessibility laws and the growing number of businesses that are becoming wheelchair friendly: “Being in a wheelchair no longer has to mean the end of your dreams or the end of your career. Many jobs exist in today’s society where it doesn’t matter if the person doing the work is in a wheelchair. What matters is their skill and ability to do the job.” Veterans have valuable experiences that are needed in the workforce, and in fact, many businesses prioritize hiring veterans.
A great example of this practice can found within the United States Postal Service. Currently, more than 113,000 veterans work for the US Postal Service. Furthermore, they specifically prefer hiring veterans and their immediate family for many postal service jobs. The main requirement for the job is preparing and passing a postal exam and, as Postal Exam Review explains, “after clearing the exam, military veterans are given preference over other applicants in respect of the valuable contribution and sacrifice they make for the country.” Feeling valued and recognized helps make the adjusting period just a little bit easier, and hopefully even more businesses will begin to model this practice.
Accepting a Helping Hand
Counseling has been a very useful and important tool for returning veterans with disabilities. Meeting with a professional counselor can help with the often overwhelming emotions and possible trauma that follows many veterans after deployment. Furthermore, having access to a well-trained counselor is a vital resource as they can also assist many veterans with disabilities who are trying to navigate the confusing and complicated network of military disability services and benefits. Unfortunately, dealing with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) can be difficult due to the system regularly dealing with major backlogs of processing claims.
Counselors can also help returned service members, especially wheelchair users, cope with the sudden change in perception of the world. Many veterans with disabilities experience the painful realization that their community is now not only more difficult to navigate within, but the sense of isolation can leave many feeling unwanted or unacknowledged. Professionals at Wake Forest University explain that, “due to lack of information, veterans often arrive home to communities that don’t fully understand their needs or the challenges they face as they try to fit back into their new lives, as well as American society.” These feelings are only heighten as a veteran with disabilities when faced with limited accessibility. Counseling then, is a crucial, ongoing process that can help promote better mental and physical health after serving in the military.
Resources for veterans with disabilities are improving, but admittedly, there are still gaps to be filled. As more and more communities begin becoming wheelchair and handicap accessible as well as training and employing more counselors, veterans can look forward to a more accommodating experience when trying to transition back to civilian life after serving their country.