Employment issues amongst mentally disabled

Employment issues amongst mentally disabled

Employment issues amongst mentally disabled veterans

Apply the first step of the scientific method by identifying a topic and explaining its importance in the field of psychology. Choose a topic of interest to you in psychology that is relevant to your current or future career as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for disabled veterans.

Evaluate the literature review and describe whether or not it provides multiple perspectives and or results on the topic, or if the author is including only those studies that prove his or her original hypothesis. Using the literature review as a reference, compare the characteristics of the different research methods that have been used to study this topic. Summarize what is known about the topic based on the evidence presented in the literature review.

“I’ve never been able to stay in a job”: A qualitative study of Veterans’ experiences of maintaining employment

Molly Harroda,∗, Erin M. Millerb, Jennifer Henrya and Kara Zivina,b,c,d a VA Center for Clinical Management Research, VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA bDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA cDepartment of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA dInstitute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA



Ensuring Veteran employment needs are met is a top priority for the Department of Veteran Affairs and the United States government. However, Veterans, especially those with mental health disorders, continue to encounter difficulties when employed. While many employment related programs offer numerous services aimed at helping Veterans gain employment, their ability to maintain long-term employment remains unknown.


The objective of this study was to understand factors that affect the ability of Veterans with mental health disorders to maintain long-term employment.


An exploratory, qualitative study design consisting of semi-structured interviews with 10 Veterans was per- formed. Inductive thematic analysis was performed to identify salient themes.


We found that participants’ symptoms manifested themselves within the workplace affecting their ability to maintain employment, participants felt as if they had been demoted from what they did in the military, and they felt unable to relate to civilian co-workers. Strategies that helped some transition into the civilian workforce were also identified. CONCLUSIONS: A better understanding of the difficulties some Veterans face when trying to maintain employment is needed. Our findings suggest that increasing awareness of existing programs and ensuring that services provide resources and skills that help Veterans maintain long-term employment is critical.

Keywords: Long-term employment, mental health, reintegration

1. Introduction

Within the United States there are approximately 5.5 million Veterans who served during the Gulf War era (from August 1990 until present) [1]. These Vet- erans are younger, more likely to be of working age (18–55), and looking to secure civilian employment.

∗Address for correspondence: Molly Harrod, HSR&D (152) P.O. Box 130170 Ann Arbor, MI 48113-0170, USA. Tel.: +1 734 845 3600; Fax: +1 734 222 7503; E-mail: Molly.Harrod@va.gov.

Ensuring that Veteran employment needs are met is a top priority for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the United States government. Several poli- cies and programs have been developed at Federal, state, and local levels to help Veterans obtain employ- ment including the American Jobs Act, the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act, and the Veterans Job Corps, among others [2–4].

These programs offer a wide range of services from providing web portals that connect Veterans

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260 M. Harrod et al. / Veterans’ experiences of employment

with employment opportunities in their community to providing more personalized services such as match- ing military skills with civilian occupations, career counseling, resume writing, job retraining and edu- cation [2]. However, despite robust programming, several studies have identified difficulties Veterans may encounter when employed especially those Vet- erans with mental health disorders. For example, Sayer et al.

[5] surveyed Iraq-Afghanistan combat Veterans and found that nearly 35% had difficulty completing tasks, potentially affecting their work productivity, and nearly 25% experienced job loss. Additionally, Veterans with post-traumatic stress dis- order (PTSD) tended to miss more work days, were unhappy with their employment, and had difficulty getting along with their co-workers when compared to non-Veterans [6, 7].

While many employment related programs for Vet- erans (with and without mental health disorders) offer numerous services aimed at helping them gain employment, it remains unclear how many offer ser- vices related to maintaining employment. In fact, a study by Burnett-Zeigler et al. [8] found that Veterans with mental health disorders may have more difficulty maintaining their employment rather than obtain- ing employment. Studies have also noted the need for research and information on reintegration experi- ences and on-going needs, including those related to employment of Veterans [4, 9].

Considering that studies [4, 10–13] have found that unemployment can impede successful reintegration, it is crucial to not only offer employment support to Veterans, but to identify gaps in services to main- tain employment. Therefore, the aim of this study was to understand factors that may affect the ability of Veterans with mental health disorders to maintain long-term employment.

Employment issues

Employment issues

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