11 May 2013

Invisible Wounds: Risk to the One Percent...

There is an alarm bell ringing within the ranks of Operational Risk Management executives in the United States.  As brave, experienced and motivated veterans enter the U.S. civilian work force, it is growing louder by the hour.  Our "One Percent" who serve in the military, leaders returning from over a decade of war and those who have earned the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (GWOTEM), now have a new adversary.  Does your organization hire veterans or spouses of vets?  How are you taking an active role in the veterans hiring, career goals, aspirations and training?  What are the potential indicators of an employee at risk?
Melanie Haiken, Contributor - Forbes
Almost once an hour – every 65 minutes to be precise – a military veteran commits suicide, says a new investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. By far the most extensive study of veteran suicides ever conducted, the report, issued Friday, examined suicide data from 1999 to 2010.
The fact is that about 31% are vets, who are under 50 years old and in the prime of their lives and careers.  The Operational Risks associated with a growing workplace with veterans comes in different areas of concern and opportunity.  The awareness building program within a workplace, that is focused on mitigating risks to the enterprise, should be focused on behaviors and pre-incident indicators.  Especially when it comes to humans.  "Invisible wounds" are just that.  They are hard to see.

Has your organization been faced with an employee, who was a veteran and took their own life?  The cues and clues may not be so obvious.  Human Resources departments, Organizational Development management, senior executives are starting to hear that alarm.

There are people walking around your organization at this very moment, who are at risk and you may be naive to the indicators.  Begin the process today to change this growing epidemic.  Create a mechanism for awareness building, of the potential pre-incident indicators.  More importantly, what are you doing to proactively evaluate and monitor employees who are veterans?
60 Minutes - Invisible wounds of war by David Martin
An estimated quarter million servicemen and women have suffered concussions over the past decade of war. Tens of thousands -- no one knows the precise number -- are dealing with lasting brain damage. The Pentagon, which did not recognize the problem until the war in Iraq was almost over, is now scrambling to treat these invisible wounds. And soldiers suffering from them sometimes end up wishing they had a wound people could see.
There are programs for building awareness with employees and even a growing number of non-profit organizations that are making a difference.  The point is, what is management doing to proactively engage fellow executives to be more proactive on multiple fronts?  Here is one example that you should be investigating immediately.  Pretend for a moment that you as a CEO, are a veteran that is applying for a job at your company.  Go to your own career web site page and apply for a job at your company.  Why?  See how easy it is.  See what happens next.

The reason is clear.  You don't have any idea what a veteran goes through to first apply for a position with your company.  Second, you do not fully understand, how your own HR and recruiters follow-up and provide any feedback to the applicant, once they have navigated the vast maze of your latest outsourced online job platform.

We would also request, that you investigate your organizations process for doing periodic assessments of employee performance?  How is this the same or different for a veteran?  Has it been modified or is it done with a trained professional, who may be able to use substantial experience to provide an early warning system for vets, who may be at risk in your workplace.

Whether you are in the military ranks now as a commander or you are an executive in the government, business or part of a non-profit, you think you know the stakes.  You think you understand the Operational Risks associated with the hiring and employment of veterans.  You do not, because no one does completely.  This complex mosaic of laws, health care and human psychology issues may very well be, one of the greatest operational risk challenges before us as a nation.

Begin your journey to better understanding this, by visiting this U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs web site:  http://www.veteranscrisisline.net

This Memorial Day, we will remember all those heroes who have fallen, especially here at home.  In our own town.  We can and must do better...

1 comment:

  1. What you are stating makes sense, but I advise you to use caution. We do have a problem. Of that there is no doubt, however we, as veterans, have far greater assets to offer. In pushing this kind of monitoring you may inadvertently cause discrimination. Prior to 9-11, being a Vet resulted in a great deal of ridicule and difficulty. To the point where I was almost ashamed to admit I had served.
    Since then the culture has changed. People do seem to have more respect for our efforts. Recently I started hearing from friends suffering with PTSD on how they were now being looked on as "mentally unstable" and "potentially violent." Their rights being stripped away because they actually sought help.
    These fine men are not a danger to society but are active members of the community. They are mentors. They volunteer. They educate the youth. They demonstrate the ideals this country was founded on. They just have things that need to be worked out. Nightmares, depression, a sense of dread (or pessimism) for the future based on what they have seen.
    Something must be done, but with care and caution. I would hate to see a helping hand become a handcuff.