Personalized employment support for veterans with disabilities

(BPT) - Many veterans seeking to transition from military service to civilian life face barriers to employment, often because their military experience doesn’t translate well to a traditional resume. It is difficult for employers to draw parallels between roles and responsibilities in the military to the experience they need in a job candidate. And it is difficult for veterans to translate their military skills and experiences into language employers are looking for.

But veterans with disabilities face an even bigger barrier. Traditional hiring and employment fairs are ineffective for many disabled veterans — an overlooked and undervalued workforce. Veterans with disabilities, especially those who are significantly injured or ill, are less likely to attend large public events with crowds or in locations that are not easily accessible.

A further barrier to employment is that many employers lack strong diversity and inclusion programs to hire and integrate people with disabilities into the workforce. And, many employers also worry about the cost of workplace accommodations, despite a Job Accommodation Network study that shows the average cost of an accommodation is $500 or less.

Unemployment and underemployment

Unemployment and underemployment of veterans robs society of the valuable skills and strong work ethic of the veteran population — and also impacts veterans and their families in myriad ways. Lack of employment or regular engagement in activities can lead to increased rates of depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and other health issues for veterans and their families.

The Americans with Disabilities Act National Network states that 57% of disabled veterans reported concerns that they face discrimination during the hiring process because of their disability. The reality of ill-informed employers and veterans unsure of how to access quality assistance adds more stress to the job search process.

Personalized employment help for veterans

Paralyzed Veterans of America’s employment program, PAVE (Paving Access for Veterans Employment), specializes in helping veterans with disabilities find meaningful employment. PAVE employment analysts and vocational rehabilitation counselors work with clients to overcome barriers to employment at all stages of their life and career. This assistance is offered free of charge not just to disabled veterans, but to any veteran, transitioning service member, spouse, or caregiver across the country.

PAVE’s newest service, PAVE Connect, is a virtual engagement initiative that bridges a critical gap for veterans by reaching those who do not have the time, means, or ability to attend traditional employment or educational events.

Through PAVE Connect, members of the veteran community can:

  • Interact with PAVE employment experts through virtual meetings.
  • Meet employers eager to hire from the military and veteran community and gain insight to understand opportunities available within their organizations.
  • Access an online library of timely, relevant career information — on their schedule and from any device.
  • View recorded presentations and access other tools and resources on demand.
  • Discover a wide range of meaningful education, volunteer, and employment opportunities.

“I am thrilled to add PAVE Connect to our list of services,” said Lauren Lobrano, PVA’s director of PAVE. “Virtual technology provides yet another meaningful way to reach and serve our clients. If a veteran is underemployed, they can’t take the time away from their current job to pursue a better one. If a veteran has a significant disability, yet is capable and employable, big events can be a deterrent. PAVE Connect helps level that playing field and maintains our proven one-on-one, customized approach."

A success story

“There are a lot of vets out there who feel like there’s no hope and that they are at a dead-end with nothing to offer,” said U.S. Army veteran Daniel Rabun. “PAVE gave me hope and assistance when I needed it the most and inspired me to keep trying. The continued one-on-one contact with PAVE counselors who know my story keeps me going.”

Rabun joined the U.S. Army just out of high school and served eight years. Although his time in the military gave him years of management experience, translating military terms for his resume proved challenging and he faced many obstacles finding employment. PAVE experts helped him with his resume and directed him to businesses seeking his skills. He also participated in a PAVE Connect session on interviewing techniques and tips, which gave him even more preparation for entering the civilian workforce.

The PAVE program, with offices across the country, already assists veterans where they are at their time of need, rather than asking clients to come to them. In addition, if a client has a disability, PAVE experts will consult the whole way with the veteran and their employer to make sure adaptive equipment is available and compatible. The PAVE Connect initiative further enables PVA to reach these most deserving American men and women and help them achieve their career goals throughout their lives.

Learn more about PVA’s employment program and view the schedule of upcoming PAVE Connect sessions at pva.org/paveconnect.

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