Return to Careers
Return to Careers is an effort to better understand the process of recovery and re-entry into civilian life faced by veterans with disabilities returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. NOD turns to veterans themselves (and those that work with them) to learn about their career interests and support needs, in an effort to help ensure that veterans with disabilities find success in the career marketplace.
Returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, veterans with significant disabilities face a daunting process of recovery and re-entry to civilian life. This is a long, continually evolving process that requires multiple adjustments for the veterans and their families. As a result, services designed to support these veterans must be responsive to their shifting needs over the course of their return and recovery.
Seeking an organization with direct experience designing and implementing career development services for veterans, the Institute for Economic Empowerment partnered with NOD with the objective to understand this process in order to improve the kinds of employment services and opportunities available to returning veterans with disabilities.
NOD believes that the failure to accommodate the changing needs of veterans and their families as they reassimilate to civilian life is the central failure of most employment services offered to our returning veterans. To meet the needs of veterans throughout this process, we must identify and offer the most effective employment support strategies as they evolve.
Toward this goal, the Return to Careers project will identify:
- Trends in employment and educational interests, as well as longer-term career goals of returning veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD);
- Support strategies that are typically most useful in helping people with TBI and/or PTSD to obtain employment in chosen careers;
- Characteristics of ideal work environments for people with TBI and/or PTSD;
- Costs and best practice delivery strategies for the identified short- and long- term career supports required by veterans with TBI and/or PTSD;
- The role of the veteran's family in the career search, and what supports the family requires to support the veteran's career aspirations;
- How veterans' goals and required supports change over time; and
- What support businesses and other employers require to recruit, retain, and promote candidates with TBI and/or PTSD.
In addition, given NOD's experience in career development for veterans with TBI and/or PTSD, we will explore how the actual outcomes of the Wounded Warrior Career Demonstration, and other similar veteran service projects match the information suggested by the Return to Careers Research Project.
To address these issues, the Return to Careers project will seek data from veterans with TBI and/or PTSD; the families of veterans with TBI and/or PTSD; professionals in the field of veterans' support and workforce development; and businesses.
Return to Careers was launched in February 2010. The project phases include comprehensive literature and practice review; interviews conducted with veterans and their families, businesses, and service providers; qualitative analysis of transcribed data; and, finally, mapping of research findings into an actionable model of veteran employment. The Return to Careers Executive Summary is available here.