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Beyond yellow ribbons: Are employers prepared to hire, accommodate and retain returning veterans with disabilities?

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Are employers ready to hire, retain and accommodate veterans with disabilities (VWDs) returning from engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan? A survey of 1,083 human resource professionals examined employer readiness in three areas: knowledge, beliefs/willingness and actions/practices, with an emphasis on the signature disabilities of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Overall, employers surveyed did have willingness to employ VWDs and saw some benefits in doing so. Yet, they had key knowledge gaps around accommodating workers with PTSD and TBI and around disclosure issues. In the area of respondent willingness to employ VWDs, findings indicated most employers believed VWDs would benefit their organizations and would perform as well as other workers. Yet, they believed employing VWDs would involve more costs and more of a manager's time and were largely unsure if workers with PTSD were more likely than others to be violent in the workplace. Respondents' actions/practices indicated that the majority were not using recruitment or other resources specific to VWDs and had scant experience in accommodating workers with PTSD and TBI. Implications of these findings are discussed in terms of research and application to impact employer knowledge, willingness and practices around employing VWDs.