Why you should hire a veteran

Supported employment service, Enable, is working with Veterans charity, Walking with the Wounded, to help support Veterans with mental health needs into employment. Enable is part of Shropshire Council and has over 20 years’ experience of ensuring clients find a career path that suits their interests and skills – ultimately helping them to achieve steady employment in mainstream in competitive jobs. Here, Leanne Morrissey, Head of Enable’s Veterans Project, speaks about the importance of employment in civilian life for Veterans:

“November 11 2016 marked the 98th Remembrance Day since the end of the hostilities of World War I; something that is widely recognised across many different communities. It is important, still, to recognise the position of today’s Veterans. The responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of our Armed Forces personnel is immense. By entering into extreme circumstances, they show great courage and dedication in the name of our country. For some, this can end in the ultimate sacrifice of losing their life in the course of duty, while others can be left with both physical and mental scars that can last a lifetime.

Most people leaving the Armed Forces go on to live perfectly happy lives, however, mental illness has been known to affect some Veterans. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often associated with people leaving the Armed Forces, however it is only a small part of the overall problem including depression, anxiety and substance misuse. For a Veteran who is struggling with a mental health need, whether it is PTSD, depression or anxiety, finding employment can be a daunting, yet necessary journey.

Employment has a key role to play in the recovery of one’s mental health as it is such a crucial part of our lives – not only does it provide us with financial benefits, it also brings benefits to our mental wellbeing and our social lives. Joblessness and lack of social networks, particularly when caused by mental health needs, are often exasperated by discrimination and profound loss of social status – these aspects are made even more intense for Veterans due to leaving such a structured environment in which your job dictates your social status. Military discharge can lead to profound changes in identity, both in servicemen’s perceptions of themselves and in their relationship with the rest of world – some go from being honoured and respected members of society to claiming benefits and sometimes even finding themselves homeless, two conflicting statuses from either end of the social spectrum. This highlights both why it is so easy for a veteran to develop a mental illness and why employment and social inclusion are so crucial to their recovery.

Finding employment after leaving the Forces can be extremely difficult, particularly for someone who has a mental health need. Unfortunately, employers can miss out on the talent offered by veterans as recruitment practices can fail to recognise this valuable experience which could help companies that may be facing recruitment, retention and skills shortage challenges.

Employing a Veteran can come with many benefits to a company, for example; Veterans are used to working in a highly team-orientated environment which gives them the skills of both giving and taking on instructions. Communication and performance are also vital when working in the armed forces and is an essential skill when working within any team, setting goals and achieving outcomes.

There is a lot that employers can gain from hiring a veteran, we have seen brilliant success through our programme. Employment is such a vital part of everyone’s lives and by employing a veteran, you are giving them a chance to succeed at civilian life at the same time as bringing new skills to your company.”

If you are an employer and you are interested in hiring a veteran, please contact us.