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Managing Your Health After Deployment in the Workplace | Getting Hired
Adjusting to post-military life tends to be difficult for many veterans. You are leaving not just a way of life, but an experience. Upon leaving the military veterans tend to focus on things like finding a job, reconnecting to their family and community, and helping others — but one thing that often gets left to the wayside is physical and mental health. Choosing a post-deployment job is already a massive decision, so much so that diet, exercise, and self-care can be forgotten about. Keeping these items top of mind can truly make a difference and help veteran employees feel secure not only in the workplace but in their health as well.
Spend Time Focusing on Physical Health
There is a good portion of veterans state that they have good physical health post-service, usually due to the fitness levels they had while in the military. However, a study done by the VA showed that after leaving the military more than half of participating veterans stated that they had chronic physical health problems. This could be chronic pain if they received an injury in service, sleep problems, or mental health issues.
The BRFSS, or the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for the CDC, collects data from all 50 states and takes notes on health risk behaviors, health conditions, and much more. In this data, veterans are called out as well, showcasing where issues for veterans may lie post-military service. The data showcases that veterans are less likely to rate their overall health as good compared to those who weren’t in service.
On top of self-reflection, veterans often suffer from common injuries that range from sprains and strains to more serious injuries like gunshot wounds, loss of limbs, or hearing loss related to noise exposure. Also, high blood pressure is another health concern commonly associated with veterans. While it may not seem detrimental, almost half of veterans are diagnosed with high blood pressure, which increases the chance of heart disease. Proactively setting aside time for a few walks a day can help alleviate some of this pain as well as help your heart, making your physical health a priority without adding too much to your plate.
Ask Potential Employers about Health Benefits
Even though you may have access to the VA, you must be aware of the health benefits your employer may have in place too. Your employer should provide resources for you to have easy access to if you have health conditions related to your time in service.
While most employers may focus on being Equal Employment Opportunity based as well as follow the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s important to pay attention to what your employer offers once hired. They should offer accessibility in the workplace, and usually, the VA can help set up these accommodations with your employer if the lifestyle changes seem like drastic ones.
On top of these benefits through the VA, your employer should have healthcare options as well as dental, vision, and 401(k) plans that you can be a part of. While it is up to the discretion of the employer to have these plans, larger companies like grocery stores, retail businesses, and national brands, usually have benefits for their full-time and part-time employees. If you are a veteran that is choosing this route rather than something full-time, it’s wise to ask if these are available! This is especially true if working in a field that comes with hazardous conditions, such as construction, being a first responder, or labor-intensive work. If not, make sure that the VA can provide benefits, or that they can work with your employer for a plan that works for you and your family.
Stay on Top of Current Legislation, If You Can
Believe it or not, some of the best ways to be aware of your benefits after deployment is to take note of changes that are going on in the veteran community. Recently, the Honoring our PACT Act was signed into effect, which is the biggest expansion for the VA in 30 years or so. This bill opens up medical and financial coverage to veterans impacted by toxic substances in the military that were commonly found in burn pits, at military bases, and used across combat., New legislation, such as the PACT Act can be a lifeline for veterans post-service.
Far too often, veterans neglect their health due to the rising costs of healthcare. Luckily, The PACT Act covers something called the “Cost of Toxic Exposures Fund,” which helps pay for the health care and benefits related to being exposed to hazards while in service. Not only does this help cover veterans' health care costs, but also helps families as well if they were exposed in housing units or through secondhand exposure to these chemicals.
While it may be hard to stay in the know about all things related to healthcare for veterans, working with your local VA can help you find the support and resources you need to stay healthy. The PACT Act also outlines that the VA will be more proactive in making those materials available.
As you start to make your way into the workforce after your time in the military, you must focus on your health, both physically and mentally. It can be hard to make time for yourself; the good thing is there are plenty of resources to make sure that you do.
To learn more about Getting Hired, our mission, and resources go to gettinghired.com! While you are there make sure you check out our Veteran talent community here: gettinghired.com/veterans.