Accommodating Service Members and Veterans with PTSD - Handmade By Heroes

Accommodating Service Members and Veterans with PTSD

July 09, 2017

Accommodating Service Members and Veterans with PTSD

The Global War on Terrorism became a national priority ever since the Twin Tower attacks in September 11, 2001. And because of the Global War on Terrorism, many U.S. service men and women were assigned in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other parts of Middle East to help end terrorism. But what happens to these service men and women after their tour of duty is over? Yes, they come home and are greeted and honored as heroes that they deserve. But after all the accolades and hand shakings, these brave men and women are left with the same dilemma and health problems that most of us civilians will never know or experience. These are the combat related injuries.

The life of a service man that was exposed to life threatening combat situations when he was still in service can lead to traumatic events that can cause psychiatric problem like the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A veteran who wants to transition from military to civilian life can have a difficult and challenging situation if he has PTSD. Returning service men and women who wants to go back to work in the civilian world can sometimes pose a problem if they are suffering from PTSD. So, it is best that if a former soldier has PTSD, the employers of these veterans and the other employees should be informed so that they can help these veterans transition and readjust to civilian life smoother and easier.

Here are the signs and symptoms if a returning veteran is suffering from PTSD. This was according to the pamphlet distributed by the American Legion 1.

The signs and symptoms include:

  • Upsetting thoughts occurring frequently about the traumatic event.
  • Frequent dreams (in many cases, nightmares) about the event.
  • Suddenly feeling as though the event is reoccurring (flashbacks).
  • Environmental stimuli (olfactory, auditory, and visual) can trigger flashbacks and other troubling symptoms.
  • Detaching oneself physically and emotionally from other people/places, especially large crowds.
  • A feeling of foreshortened future.
  • Guilt related to being a survivor – seeing his comrades fall while he survived, taking another human life.
  • Sleep disturbances (usually insomnia).
  • Mood swings and anger outbursts.
  • Cognitive/memory difficulties.
  • Excessive vigilance and survival-related behaviors.
  • Hyper arousal – a person may seem “jumpy,” especially in the presence of unexpected noises.

Not all service men and women suffer from PTSD upon returning home. So, as an employer and also as a coworker, never assume that all returning veterans have PTSD. Sometimes, it may take years before a veteran develops PTSD.


Not all returning veterans with PTSD need accommodations. In fact, most of them can do their respective jobs properly. But if a veteran needs accommodation, here are some suggestions that can help accommodate service members and veterans with PTSD.

When a veteran lacks concentration because of PTSD

  • Destruction should be minimized in the work place
  • Private space should be provided
  • Playing music by using headset should be allowed
  • Natural lighting in the work place should be adequate
  • Goal oriented tasks should be assigned and large assignments should be bracketed into smaller goals
  • Uninterrupted work time should be planned

 When a veteran with PTSD have difficulty handling stress

  • Longer work breaks should be allowed
  • Backup coverage should be provided when the employee needs to take a break
  • Allow them to learn new responsibilities
  • Allow counseling
  • Answer employees questions

When a veteran with PTSD have difficulty working with others

  • Encourage the employee to walk away from frustrating situations and confrontations
  • Working from home as a part-time should be allowed
  • Provide privacy by using partitions or closed doors in the work place
  • Disability awareness trainings should be provided

When a veteran with PTSD have difficulty showing appropriate emotions or controlling anger

  • Refer to employee assistance programs (EAP) and veterans centers
  • Use stress management techniques to deal with frustration
  • Use of a support animal
  • Allow telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for needed support
  • Allow frequent breaks

When a veteran with PTSD is having Sleep Disturbance that affects his workplace performance

  • Allow the employee to have a consistent work schedule
  • Work start time should be flexible
  • Short breaks can be allowed to be combined into one long break
  • Sleeping during break hours should be allowed

When a veteran with PTSD have an absenteeism or tardiness problem

  • Allow for a flexible start time or end time, or work from home
  • Permanent work schedules and straight shifts should be allowed
  • Make up time from time missed from work due to PTSD situations should be allowed

When a veteran with PTSD have panic attacks at home or at work

  • Allow the employee to take a break and go to a place where s/he feels comfortable to use relaxation techniques or contact a support person
  • Panic attack triggers should be identified and removed
  • A support animal should be allowed

By helping and accommodating returning service members and veterans with PTSD in the work place, we can also help them transition to civilian life much easier. And by letting these service members and veterans feel that we care about them is the best way for us to say thank you for the bravery and heroism that they showed in the face of danger just to keep the United States of America and us safe from the threat of terrorism.

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