HOPE for the FUTURE: Career Counseling for Military Personnel and Veterans with Disabilities

By Hayden, Seth; Buzzetta, Mary | Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

HOPE for the FUTURE: Career Counseling for Military Personnel and Veterans with Disabilities


Hayden, Seth, Buzzetta, Mary, Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Abstract

Military personnel and veterans are continually transitioning into the civilian workforce largely due to the current draw down of the fighting forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many return with new emotional, psychological, and physical challenges related to their deployment experience. Career practitioners working with this population encounter a myriad of concerns ranging from creating a resume, to translating military training and experiences to civilian employment. Given the unique experiences and array of career development needs of veterans with disabilities, it is important to possess a schema in which to assess needs and develop appropriate interventions. The Cognitive Information Processing (CIP; Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, & Lenz, 2004) approach offers a comprehensive and systematic approach in which to address the career development needs of veterans with disabilities. This article will discuss common concerns related to returning military service members and veterans, the benefits of career counseling as it relates to supporting this population, and the application of CIP in addressing the needs of this population.

Roughly 1.7 million troops have been deployed to Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF; Berger, 2010). Of these individuals, 45 per cent seek compensation for service-related injuries (Marchione, 2012). Many of these recent engagements are unique in that psychological wounds of war outstrip physical injuries related to military experience (Sammons & Batten, 2008). For example, between 19 and 38 per cent of recently returning veterans report having emotional difficulties (Katz, Cojucar, Davenport, Pedram, & Lindl, 2010), and as many as 20 per cent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and 27 per cent of Vietnam veter- ans suffer from some form of invisible wounds of war (e.g., depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)) (Tanielian & Jaycox, 2008). Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is also a signature wound of these conflicts (Bagalman, 2011), in addition to high numbers of active duty military and veterans with various injuries such as loss of limbs, blindness, hear- ing loss, tinnitus (noise or ringing in the ears), and disfigurement (Mar- chione, 2012).

According to Sammons and Batten (2008), this group is a very small subset of the veteran population. It is estimated that approximately one-third of the service members deployed for OEF/OIF will experi- ence one of three conditions: PTSD, major depressive disorder, and Traumatic Brain Injury (Tanielian & Jaycox, 2008), all of which are commonly referred to as invisible wounds of war because they often go unrecognized by fellow service members, family members, and society. Additionally, several researchers have found high comorbidity of men- tal health diagnoses amongst individuals who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan (Bagalman, 2011; Batten & Pollack, 2008; Jakupcak et al., 2009; Seal, Bertenthal, Miner, Sen, & Marmar, 2007). For example, there is a high comorbidity of PTSD with other mental health concerns such as mild TBI, depression, and substance abuse (Batten & Pollack, 2008). In addition, several researchers have found that suicide risk increases for OEF/OIF veterans diagnosed with mental health disorders (Jakupcak et al., 2009; Kang & Bullman, 2008). According to Jakupcak et al. (2009), veterans diagnosed with PTSD are four times as likely to endorse sui- cidal ideation in comparison to veterans without PTSD. Additionally, veterans with PTSD and multiple comorbid mental health disorders (such as major depressive disorder, alcohol abuse, and substance abuse) are 5.7 times more likely to endorse suicidal ideation in comparison to veterans with PTSD only.

Many of these concerns cause functional impairment in several arenas in- cluding work, home, or interpersonal relationships (Tanielian & Jaycox, 2008). Furthermore, a disability can influence the type of environment in which a veteran desires to work. …

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