By Taylor Klusman
The Razorback Reporter
The civilian disconnect that veterans face after they are hired raises challenges in the workplace, according to a study commissioned by Blue Star Families (BSF), an organization that advocates for veterans.
BSF conducts a yearly survey featuring Military Family Lifestyle results and organizes the information gathered into various public resources on their website, including an executive survey, a comprehensive infographic and a comprehensive report.
In the resulting information, researches at BSF found that out of the 8,390 military interviewees, 79 percent “do not believe military compensation is keeping up with civilian compensation,” and 88 percent “feel general public does not understand sacrifices made by service members and their families.”
The 2016 data displays its most concerning information regarding veterans at the top of page one on the infographic, the charted statistics revealing that military pay and benefits is the most troubling aspect of life for 56 percent of veterans polled.
This top choice was directly followed by change in retirement and benefits, number of military personnel suicides, PTSD and employment.
“The disconnect exists because of what we, as civilians, don’t understand about the military involvement,” Jay Green, Administrator for the AR State Veterans Home of Fayetteville, said. “It’s like a group or club that they all experienced and we didn’t, and so we can’t understand what it was or what it felt like.”
The Service Year Alliance is an organization attempting to make young Americans serving the nation for at least a year a common expectation.
“When veterans engage in a paid service year, we see good results,” EJ Delpero, the Military and Veterans Fellow for the Service Year Alliance, said. “These opportunities provide transitional support from the military because it takes time to adjust to the civilian world, new skills can be acquired, more connections are made, and all of this ultimately boils down to increased career opportunities.”
This organization works to lessen the divide between military and civilians through this adjustment period while simultaneously striving to educate civilians regarding the costs veterans pay for their service.
“Right now, less than 1 percent of our population serves in the military,” General (Ret.) Stan McChrystal, chairman of Service Year Alliance, said. “And, in my view, we need to rethink and create a system where every young American has an opportunity to serve their nation in other ways.”
Under the mental health and wellness section of the survey, 40 percent of active duty participants said they feel that seeking mental health care would harm their career, further establishing the idea that many veterans do not feel able to request help when they need it.
“I think it’s easier to bridge the divide with this age group than it is with younger veterans because they’ve had the time to come to terms with their service, it’s not fresh in their minds like it is for veterans who’ve just recently come back,” Green said.
Multiple companies actively and publically are working to resolve such conflicts and many are discovering successful methods of bridging the divide.
“Taking off the uniform does not necessarily represent that one is done serving their country,” Delpero said. “In other words, with service year programs, veterans are donning a new uniform.”