America’s post-9/11 wounded veterans face a challenge transitioning into the civilian workforce, and employers can help address it.
The challenge was highlighted in Wounded Warrior Project’s Annual Warrior Survey, released in February. Made possible through the generous support of CSX, this is the largest, most comprehensive survey of post-9/11 wounded veterans. Among the findings, the report points to the financial wellness challenges of this generation of wounded veterans.
The research specifically revealed that while the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans was about 3% in August 2021, the unemployment rate for the wounded, ill and injured warriors WWP serves was about 13% in that same time frame. In addition, more than two in five warriors (42%) registered with WWP reported they did not have enough money to make ends meet in the past 12 months.
What's the Solution?
An alarming number of post-9/11 wounded warriors struggle to find employment, manage their finances, and transition successfully to civilian life. As an organization that supports wounded veterans, we’re troubled by this issue, particularly with inflation at the highest rate in 40 years.
So, how can employers help solve this issue? The Annual Warrior Survey points to a potential solution. The research concludes that warriors employed by companies offering a resource group or veteran mentorship program are more likely to be professionally fulfilled than those employed by companies without such programs.
How CSX Helps Veterans Adjust to Civilian Life
CSX takes this directive to heart. Nearly 20% of the company’s employees are veterans, and CSX established a crucial forum for them through a military business resource group. The group organizes special events, volunteers together, hosts speaking engagements and shares resources, tips and tools with other employees. The professional fulfillment gained by these CSX veteran employees helps them thrive in their civilian careers.
In addition to the military business resource group, CSX also offers veteran employees access to a network of employee mentors. One-on-one guidance from one veteran to another provides invaluable insight into navigating new workplace experiences.
To further bolster veterans’ financial health, CSX impacts warriors’ lives outside of its company walls, too. Through its long-term community investment initiative, Pride in Service, CSX supports military members, veterans and their families on the home front. For example, it collaborates with WWP’s career counseling program, Warriors to Work®, to offer seminars for wounded veterans. Previous workshops have leveraged the expertise of CSX employees and focused on salary negotiations and resume writing. CSX has also supported veterans in the community by providing families with valuable resources such as financial assistance grants, food assistance, and back-to-school supplies that further help their transition to civilian life.
How Every Employer Can Help The Military Transition
We encourage every organization that employs veterans to reflect on if they’re best serving those who served us. What resources are you providing that will empower them to not only be successful contributors to your company, but fulfilled citizens who can confidently continue onto their next mission in life? In addition, what is your company doing outside of your walls to address these matters? It’s the responsibility of employers, veterans service organizations, and the overall community to work together to recognize the issues veterans face and provide critical support to our nation’s heroes.
Tom Kastner is the vice president of financial wellness at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). Bryan Tucker is the vice president of corporate communications at CSX.