Home of the brave and land of the free! This motto of our great country is founded in the underlying sacrifices made by our brave men and women in the armed forces. Since 9/11 shocked our nation, the United States has seen a large increase in overseas altercations, leaving many service members seriously injured or dead. Wars are terrible events but have dotted the pages of world-wide history.
Military engagements post-9/11 have come with a significant increase in health risks to our veteran service members, impacting their ability to later perform civilian work. One example is traumatic brain injury (TBI). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines traumatic brain injury as, “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury." The most common causes of TBI are due to blasts (from training & combat), objects striking the head, and falls. This condition can lead to higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, back pain, and suicidal ideation.
Vocational rehabilitation is critical in helping our brave warriors return to civilian life and the workforce. This article will take a closer look at three ways vocational rehabilitation can help veterans with TBI return to the workforce and lead productive lives after serving in battle.
Three Ways Rehabilitation for TBI Can Help Veterans Return to the Workforce
Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling
Vocational rehabilitation counseling helps individuals deal with the work stressors resulting from physical and mental disabilities incurred from military injuries. Counselors can assist veterans in several ways including career counseling, return to work support, psychosocial interventions, and functional work capacity evaluations. Brain injuries can lead to mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Vocational rehabilitation counselors are key in acclimating veterans to civilian life and helping them enter the workforce.
Veterans with TBI benefit from initial and ongoing employment support. Virginia Commonwealth University reported in 2012 that around 3.2 million people live with the effects of brain injuries, and estimated that nearly half fail to return to work. A significant reason for this is improper job matching. An employment specialist can assist veterans in finding jobs which match their skills with job duties and the right work environment. They can then flourish and stay engaged for the long-term. Employment support continues once a veteran returns to the workforce. Ongoing training and long-term follow ups help decrease the risk of a veteran leaving their job due to continuing TBI symptoms.
Veterans with TBI can benefit greatly from in-home visitations as part of their return to work rehabilitation program. Shaheed Soeker published an academic journal on the positive effects of in-home visitations for veterans with TBI. Her research found treatment programs incorporating home-based occupational therapy, in addition to traditional clinic approaches, result in meaningful long-term improvement for patients. In-home rehabilitation has several benefits:
- increased comfort during treatment
- a less stressful environment
- family support which is critical to rehabilitation success
Together, these promote open communication between medical professionals and veterans dealing with TBI.
Our veterans have put others before themselves daily, and in some cases paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our way of life. Veterans suffering from combat brain injuries need support in returning to the workforce. With the three ways explained above, we can ensure our heroes find the best place to succeed in becoming assets in companies all over this great country they served. We all owe our veterans assistance in helping them return home to be successful in their everyday lives.
If you have veterans who have suffered past brain injuries who need assistance in returning to the workplace, please contact Work-Fit to see how our services can help your organization today!