Wounded Warrior Careers
The National Organization on Disability'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 serverly 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.
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.
The NOD Wounded Warrior Career program utilizes the Intensive Career Transition Support Model, developed and evaluated by our staff in the field. Based upon six core principles, this model allows NOD’s Career Specialists to design and execute Career Action Plans for veterans and their families to achieve their goals in a four-step process.
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, it is essential that Career Specialists approach each case as unique. They assess each veteran’s circumstances and interests at the beginning of the relationship and then work with veterans and their families to gradually assemble an agenda for discussion, 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 progress is measured and 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 Specialists’ 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.
Intensive Career Transition Model:
- 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
This is 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.
NOD publishes the results of its work and research for our peers and for broad application in the field. A selection of our veterans-related publications are listed here. For a complete list of NOD's published brochures, papers and reports, please visit our Research & Publications page.
NOD Webinar: The Intensive Career Transition Support Model--Reintegrating Wounded Warriors into the Workforce
Recorded April 16, 2013, in this webinar NOD staff members discuss the results of more than four years of direct, hands-on experience assisting veterans with the most serious disabilities on their journey through the transition to civilian careers and describe a support model designed to encourage self-sufficiency in education and employment.
The objectives of the webinar are:
- Describe the challenges faced by Wounded Warriors and their families in making a successful career transition.
- Present a supported education and employment model developed during the course of our work.
- Discuss the key principles essential to the success of the model.
This activity has been submitted to the HR Certification Institute for review. Click here to view the recorded webinar.
NOD releases the results of a four-year evaluation of its Wounded Warrior Careers program and called on the federal government, along with service providers nationwide, to adopt NOD’s proven, cost-effective model that successfully places severely wounded veterans into the civilian workforce.
Findings regarding the career interests and support needs of severely injured veterans, particularly those with Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.
Toolkits with information to help make workplaces a welcoming, productive and satisfying place for returning veterans and transitioning service members.
NOD has joined with Give an Hour—an organization that links veterans with mental health services—to produce the following guides on how to successfully integrate veterans into your company
NOD worked as part of a team performing a qualitative study of disability-related services—including healthcare, special education, and long-term supports—for US Marine Corps families with family members with disabilities.
NOD worked with the Ford Foundation to raise awareness of the legacy of this chemical borne by Vietnam veterans and successive generations of their families.
May 1, 2013 - An op-ed written by NOD Board member, Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck (Ret.) was featured by the Association for the United States Army. Lt. Gen. Hegenbeck stated:
"Through Wounded Warrior Careers, NOD uniquely operates at that nexus between unemployment and disability. Few other organizations – public, private, or corporate – do that.
We’re showing that with the right support, even our most seriously disabled veterans can, and do make a huge contribution to our country’s workforce while regaining a sense of dignity and purpose that comes with a career."
April 25, 2013 - In an op-ed on Time Magazine's website, Anne Marie Dougherty, Executive Director of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, cites NOD's Wounded Warrior Careers program and the results of the four–year evaluation as proof that employment is entirely possible for severely wounded veterans.
"Yet there is proof that even for those with life-altering injuries, employment is not only possible, but probable. Programs like the National Organization on Disability’s Wounded Warrior Careers initiative are helping veterans with serious disabilities achieve meaningful, rewarding and sustainable careers in the civilian sector."
On January 15, 2013, Washington, D.C., NOD released the results of its Wounded Warrior Careers Four-Year Report.
Listen to NOD Board Member, Lieutenant General (RET) Franklin Hagenbeck on the radio, speaking about the results of NOD's Four-Year Report on its Wounded Warriors Careers Program.
For more information, contact Bill Lockwood.