The National Organization on Disability

Skip to main navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to sitemap

Wounded Warrior Careers

NOD’s Wounded Warrior Careers program is helping veterans with serious disabilities achieve meaningful, rewarding and sustainable careers in the civilian sector. We began our work in 2007 under a Memorandum of Understanding with the Army’s Wounded Warrior (AW2) program. After working with more that 275 Wounded Warriors and their families, NOD’s Wounded Warrior Careers program has achieved a 70% success rate in transitioning severely wounded veterans into education, training and work outcomes.

Watch the following video to hear these veterans’ stories and learn what NOD is doing to help.

Thanks to OnSlot Creative for producing this video.

Background

Since 2001, more than 500,000 military personnel have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with disabling conditions, many of them severe enough to be life-altering. These disabilities often demand a long and difficult period of recovery and adjustment — but they need not be a barrier to civilian employment, income, and independence. Too often, seriously wounded service members lack the training and resources to adapt their military experience and new disabilities to successful civilian careers. The waste of their talents and abilities, and its impact on thousands of military families, is a completely preventable national tragedy. In 2007, the US Army asked the National Organization on Disability to design a solution. The result is the Wounded Warrior Careers program, in which hundreds of the most severely injured veterans and their families have begun planning and preparing for careers, enrolling in school or training programs, taking jobs, and moving ahead. NOD has gone on to develop a scalable Career Transition model, report the results, and at the same time, help hundreds of veterans and their families successfully reintegrate into their communities. This effort is further detailed in NOD’s Wounded Warrior Careers Four-Year Report.

Strategy: The Intensive Career Transition Support Model

Based upon six core principles, NOD’s model allows veterans and their families to develop Career Action Plans and achieve their goals in a four-step process, with support from NOD Career Specialists.

Six Core Principles:

  • Veteran-centered: Based on the needs and goals of the veterans and their family

The Wounded Warrior Career program tailors its service to the individual circumstances of each veteran and his or her family. Because every Wounded Warrior is different, and every combination of background, interests, and injuries produces a different set of options and challenges, NOD Career Specialists assess each veteran’s circumstances and interests and then work with veterans and their families to assemble a list of services and opportunities to explore, and methods for dealing with difficulties and setbacks.

  • Proactive: Requires outreach to engage the veteran and employers

Career Specialists under NOD’s model are trained to engage the veteran, keep the conversation going, counteract discouragement and inertia, and respond supportively to new ideas, concerns, and events. The specialist frequently travels to meet veterans in their homes or communities. They take initiative in suggesting option and in charting routes around obstacles.

  • Prolonged: Continues past first employment to ensure success

Coming to terms with an injury may be a slow process, and establishing a new career does not end with the first job. Career Specialists are available to the veterans for the entire career transition, even if that takes many years or the need resumes after a period of time.

  • Holistic: Serves the veteran and their family

NOD realizes that within the career transition needs of a veteran, the career itself if merely the center of a much wider circle, encompassing physical and psychological rehabilitation and family support, among other concerns. It is often necessary to serve the needs of the entire family, including a spouse or caregiver, in both the sphere of career counseling, but also in adjusting to and coping with daily life.

  • Results-focused: Maintains effective data tracking to ensure that goals are met

The Wounded Warrior Careers program is designed to aim consistently toward concrete milestones and tangible successes in a veteran’s career, family life and personal well-being. As well, these outcomes are carefully measured, tracked and aggregated, and the resulting data is used to constantly fine tune and enrich the program model.

  • Collaborative: Works effectively with other services and resources as a force multiplier

Career Specialist’s role is not to deliver all services to a veteran on their own; rather they knit together effective relationships between Wounded Warriors and the various benefits, programs, services, resources and opportunities available to them.

Steps in NOD’s Intensive Career Transition Model:

WWC Intensive Career Transition test

  • Career Planning: Veterans envision their path from military to civilian careers, explore their interests and ambitions, formulate goals, identify obstacles and sort through the steps and available resources that could help them overcome obstacles and reach their goals. This stage ends with the development of a Career Action Plan, a long-range roadmap, covering five or more years, developed jointly by the veteran and the Career Specialist.
  • Career Preparation: The veteran translates the career plan into actual activity: enrolling in education or training, making use of resources and benefits, pursuing referrals to services and supports, and, when appropriate, taking a step into transitional or supported employment.
  • Job-Seeking Support: Career Specialists guide veterans through the actual work of translating interests, abilities, and skills into employment, including helping them develop a resume, introducing them to prospective employers or job-search programs, helping them plan and negotiate accommodations they may need on the job, and seeking out job opportunities that might match their goals.
  • Post-Placement Support: An extended period of guidance and problem-solving after the veteran takes a job, tackling issues such as housing, ongoing job coaching, interacting with employers, on-the-job performance, and general advocacy on the veteran’s behalf.

Reports & Webinars

NOD publishes the results of its work and research for our peers and for broad application in the field, in addition to offering training webinars and live events. A selection of our Wounded Warrior Careers and veterans-related publications include:

NOD WWC 4 Year Report America's Best Cover Return to Careers Executive Summary Cover
WWC Four-Year Report Hiring America’s Best Series Return to Careers

Click for a full list of topics on our Wounded Warrior Careers & Veterans Issues Research & Publications page.