A severe injury might change the way you live your life, but it doesn’t mean you can no longer have a meaningful career. When entering the civilian workforce after a severe injury, reach out to professionals who can help with your transition. They can guide you through the many options, benefits and services as well as tailor solutions to fit your unique skills and situation.
Where to find help
There are resources online to find a job, but help from a professional can give you the edge you need when considering possible restrictions from your injury.
Professionals can help you transition out of the military and guide you through the available options, benefits and services.
- Recovery and Employment Assistance Lifelines — This project provides career counseling. A REALifelines career coach will meet with you at the hospital to discuss your career options answer questions, link you to One Stop Career Center assistance in your hometown and help you with a career plan.
- One-Stop Career Center system — One-Stop Career Centers are located throughout the country to provide career services. If you know where you will be living, call the One-Stop Career Center in that city at 877-872-5627, or visit the Service Locator and type in the ZIP code, city or state. Be sure they know you are a recently disabled veteran and ask to speak with a workforce specialist. As a veteran, you receive priority service at One-Stop Career Service Centers.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs — The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service provides a variety of services including job training, certificate programs and help finding employment.
- Job Accommodations Network — Job Accommodations Network is a free service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Department of Labor. Consultants will suggest ways employers can accommodate your disability. Call 800-526-7234, or look up your disability on Job Accommodations Network's website to find the accommodations available.
- Veteran Service Organization — There are several veteran service organizations throughout the country: American Legion, Blinded Veterans Association, Disabled American Veterans, National Amputation Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Contact your area's local post or chapter to ask how they can help you.
- Your branch transition assistance program — The Army Wounded Warrior Program; Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment; Navy Safe Harbor; and Air Force Wounded Warrior Program are available to severely injured service members in those branches.
What to think about
Ask yourself job and skill related questions to help guide you into the career best suited for you. When you have an idea of the kind of work you would enjoy, your career coach will be able to help you create a post-military job. As a team, you will find what fits you best.
- If you could do anything, what would you do? It's a difficult question to answer, but one that will give you a starting point to begin thinking about a career that will challenge and reward you for many years.
- What did you do before entering the military? Did you enjoy that line of work? Are you still able to do it?
- What do you see as the obstacles to your success? Your disability? Your education? Your skills? Identifying the things that may hold you back will allow you to focus on overcoming them.
- What was your job in the military? Your coach will help you figure out how your knowledge, skills and experience as a service member could translate to a civilian career.
- Which of your job skills would you like to continue to use? Maybe you were in food services, but your injury prevents you from lifting heavy objects or standing for long periods. Can workplace accommodations be made for you? Is specialized equipment available to help? Can you go into another field and use some of the skills you already have?
- Where will you live? There are jobs available throughout the country and One-Stop Career Centers can help you find what you are looking for.
Every injured service member will have a different job path. The nature of your injuries, where you live, and your skills, interests and experiences will guide your decision. A job coach can steer you toward the training, education and other benefits available to you as a disabled veteran. The coach can also help you take advantage of every opportunity as you move into your post-military career.