Vocational Counseling Benefits Veterans—Let’s Make It Stronger
By Justin Krowel, Ball State University
The United States has been involved in a constant state of war since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The past dozen years of prolonged combat in multiple theaters of operation have taxed the U.S. military, veterans, and their families. Veterans and current members of the armed forces face many issues related to their experience in combat.
More than 2.2 million U.S. armed service personnel have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a 2013 Institute of Medicine report.
Of those, more than 800,000 were deployed more than once; 400,000 have done three or more deployments, and nearly 37,000 were deployed more than five times, according to McClatchyDC.
The unintended consequences of prolonged combat exposure and multiple deployments subject members of the military and veterans to many difficult issues once the fight is over. An often-overlooked issue is the difficulty military personnel face when transitioning out of military service and reintegrating into the workforce.
Veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan face many challenges when it comes to employment. They face issues related to reintegration, lingering effects of deployments, mental health concerns related to PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and substance abuse, a difficult economy, and poor job outlook.
For example, the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development reported in 2013 that the unemployment rate for veterans was at 13.1 percent in 2011, compared to about 8.1 percent for non-veterans. This does not include the roughly 19 percent of veterans who are not looking for work, have stopped looking for work, or are currently attending college.
The higher rates of unemployment, and the difficulties veterans face being out of the workforce during their service cannot be ignored. Employment services should be in place for veterans upon their return from military service.
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Supported employment services have been shown to help veterans find and keep employment. Employment itself is a factor that can improve a person’s quality of life and self-esteem. Some programs in place that are designed to assist veterans revolve around transitional work experience (TWE) and incentive therapy (IT), both of which have been shown to help veterans re-enter and stay in the workforce.
Veterans who participated in employment services obtained more jobs, worked more days in a job, and stayed involved in vocational services longer than those veterans who did not participate in available services. The positive impact of employment services programs should not be a surprise since they offer direct support, supervision, and job coaching.
It is important that these employment services for veterans looking to re-enter the workforce following their military service be derived from evidence-based practices (EBP). Unfortunately, EBP employment services are being used at a low rate: Only about 2 percent of veterans are receiving employment services that are rooted in EBP.
This finding should prompt clinical mental health counselors who are focused on veterans issues to ask:
“Are veterans receiving the best possible care available—care that is rooted in evidence and theory? Or are veterans in need of more services that are set up in this manner?”
Be a Part of the GSC’s Virtual 5K:
Participate on Your Own, or With Friends
AMHCA’s Graduate Student Committee (GSC) will be sponsoring a virtual 5k (run or walk) in May to show support for mental health awareness. The virtual 5k will take place during National Mental Health Counseling Week, from May 5–11, 2014.
Please join the GSC by participating in the virtual 5k. The best part about this event is that you can run or walk whenever you want, and no fundraising is involved.
If you feel like walking or running to show your support for mental health awareness, email your photos and/or times (if you’re comfortable!) to email@example.com. We will post these in June’s Student Corner and on the AMHCA graduate student Facebook page.
Get your friends and family to run or walk with you. Anyone can run or walk, on their own time, at their own pace. It is free and it’s fun! Email us with your questions, comments, and photos at firstname.lastname@example.org.