Injured veterans seek civilian employment through Wounded Warrior Project
By Vesta M. Anderson
According to the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) 2014 Annual Alumni Survey—a survey that has been completed annually since 2010, making it the most comprehensive and statistically relevant sample of this generation of injured service members—it is estimated that the unemployment rate for WWP Alumni is 13.9%; for non-active-duty Alumni the unemployment rate is reported to be 19.7%. After military service, many injured veterans have difficulty transitioning into the civilian workforce. Often, the career transition is unplanned, and it becomes daunting for the warrior to believe they will be able to care financially for themselves and their families without the military. Typically, retired veterans who incur a service-connected medical injury will require resources beyond their post-military benefits. As a result WWP focused data-driven attention on its Economic Empowerment pillar – one of the four pillars the nonprofit’s 20 free, programs and services are divided among, the others being Engagement, Mind, and Body.
The Economic Empowerment pillar is centered on the belief that every injured veteran has the right to be successful in every aspect of their lives. It owns four programs—Education Services, TRACK™, Transition Training Academy (TTA) and Warriors to Work®—designed to help warriors accomplish their education and training goals by expanding their skills, experience and training in pursuit of a rewarding civilian career that will lead to financial stability.
This year, Education Services has empowered more than 750 wounded veterans and their family members by helping to identify skill sets and passions and by connecting those skills and passions to occupational goals. As is often the case, these occupational goals can be best realized through a formal academic experience, which WWP helps the warriors and their family members identify. WWP assists the warriors in their transition from the highly structured military routine to the largely unstructured landscape of a college or university campus. Once enrolled, WWP continues to empower the injured veteran through regular check-ins to offer advice and advocacy as needed.
More than 292 injured veterans have been enrolled in the TRACK program, and its overall graduation rate is 84%. TRACK takes a holistic approach to achieving personal, academic and professional success. All components of the curriculum are meant to heal, develop and train the mind, body and spirit of each warrior. The program includes two semesters of college, peak performance training, health and wellness curriculum, personal finance curriculum, adaptive sports, and a cohort experience.
TTA empowers wounded veterans with the specific tools they need to return to life, competitive with others in the American workforce. More than 2,200 warriors have experienced TTA instruction, a high-touch blended learning model where instructors engage personally with each student with “learn-by-doing” teaching techniques that increase the potential for student success. This learning model is of great benefit to the injured veterans suffering from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
While TTA was originally created as a hands-on program that helps warriors explore the information technology field as a possible career choice, a new and exciting expansion beyond the information technology industry has everyone talking. TTA is piloting curriculum in the medical industry. The newest addition to the TTA program is the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) curriculum, which is expected to create more exciting opportunities for warriors and their families and caregivers. Medical coding uses a series of numbers and letters to designate diagnoses and procedures in hospitals and clinics. It helps these medical facilities comply with federal patient privacy laws while providing employees with the information they need to care for patients. More importantly, medical coding and billing is a fast-growing field in the medical industry.
This year, Warriors to Work® has provided career guidance and job placement assistance to more than 2,000 injured service members seeking a civilian career after their military service. With Warriors to Work® injured veterans can: (1) understand how military service translates in the civilian sector; (2) build a strong, competent and competitive resume; (3) learn and practice vital interview skills; and (4) build confidence in an unfamiliar civilian work environment.
The Economic Empowerment pillar works in conjunction with the other three pillars—Engagement, Mind, and Body—to help foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history. The Economic Empowerment pillar defines “well adjusted” as having the opportunity to pursue and attain a meaningful career that will provide long-term financial stability for warriors and their families.
For more information on Economic Empowerment and its free programs, visit woundedwarriorproject.org or call the Resource Center at 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586), Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
About Wounded Warrior Project
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP’s purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members, to help injured servicemen and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.