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Consultants' Corner
Volume 03 Issue 02

Accommodating Service Members and Veterans with PTSD

Because of the Global War on Terrorism, many service members are returning from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other points in the Middle East with combat-related injuries. Combat exposes soldiers to potentially traumatic events on a daily basis, which can result in psychiatric symptoms, such as those of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many returning soldiers are filtering back into the workforce, and PTSD concerns may arise in the workplace. Employers of veterans (as well as the veterans themselves) need to be informed of the issues that may arise when readjusting to civilian life.

PTSD can manifest itself in a veteran differently than someone who has survived a catastrophic one-time event. The traumatic events that accompany combat duty occur daily (for months at a time) without warning. Soldiers endure these conditions with restricted food intake, lack of sleep, and harsh environmental conditions. Furthermore, soldiers are trained to be extra vigilant and to react quickly and decisively to environmental stimuli. Thus, readjusting to life at home can be a difficult experience for some veterans.

According to a pamphlet distributed by the American Legion1, PTSD symptoms in combat veterans can include:

It is important to note that not all veterans that experience combat will develop PTSD; employers and coworkers must not assume that someone who is returning from the Middle East is having these difficulties. Furthermore, those who do develop this condition may not experience all of the symptoms and behaviors listed above. In some cases, it may take years for PTSD to develop. Employees who are veterans of previous military conflicts may benefit from this information as well.

ACCOMMODATION INFORMATION

Below are some suggestions for accommodations. It is important to remember that not all veterans with PTSD will need these accommodations, if any. This is not an all-inclusive list:

Lack of Concentration: People with PTSD may have difficulty concentrating on job tasks.

Coping with Stress: People with PTSD may have difficulty handling stress.

Working Effectively with a Supervisor: Managers could supervise people with PTSD using alternative supervisory techniques.

Interacting with Co-workers: People with PTSD may have difficulty working with others.

Dealing with Emotions: People with PTSD could have difficulty exhibiting appropriate emotions or controlling anger.

Sleep Disturbance: People with PTSD may have disruption in sleep patterns that could affect workplace performance.

Absenteeism: People with PTSD could have absenteeism or tardiness issues or have difficulty maintaining reliable attendance.

Panic Attacks: People with PTSD could experience panic attacks at home or at work which could affect workplace performance.

References

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