By Maurice Wilson,
MCPO, USN (ret) President/Executive Director, National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. aka REBOOT
Why Do Problems Persist in Reintegration?
It’s not that America doesn’t care, because we do. Reintegration is a hairy problem. President Trump received $200 Billion for FY2019 and has requested $220.2 billion for the FY2020 Veterans Administration budget.
Other government agencies also dedicate portions of their budgets to support veterans. In addition, there are over 45,000 nonprofit Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), staffed mostly by volunteers – veterans, military spouses and other caring folks – all trumpeting different problems and proposed solutions.
How Should We Measure the Success of Reintegration?
That’s what our team at the National Veterans Reintegration Services, Inc. (aka REBOOT) has focused on for the past nine years. At REBOOT, we are a mixture of veterans and business executives. For us, success begins with Metrics, knowing what we’re shooting for. Take veteran employment, especially for post 9/11 veterans who suffer the highest unemployment.
Although job placement is critical to reduce unemployment, what is equally if not more important is job retention, for both employee and employer. Problems caused by PTSD, TBI and a host of war-related maladies notwithstanding, veteran job retention is far worse than for their non-veteran counterparts.
And the period of unemployment following release from active duty is lengthening. Why?
Fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan doesn’t help a young person acclimate to a civilian job, especially if she or he joined the military straight from high school or college. Because these veterans do not qualify for Social Security Unemployment Insurance, DoD’s Unemployment Compensation for Ex-service members (UCX Program) has exceeded $1 billion annually.
Should We Focus on Cheaper Prevention Costs? At REBOOT’s Centers for Military and Veteran Reintegration, we not only help transitioning military and veterans with resume writing and interviewing skills but, as funding allows, invite them to attend our free 3-week REBOOT Workshop™. Our mantra is RELEARN, REBUILD, REBRAND.
We devote one week to each, with the curriculum based on the science of helping people change their psycho-social behaviors. For the past nine years, our placement rate of graduates (into gainful employment or post-secondary education) has been 97%, and our second-year retention rate is 93%.
Who Are the Players in the Social Enterprise?
It’s all of us in America. While it sounds almost trite to say that it takes a village, it does take a village, or a community of caregivers and willing partners. It took us a few years at REBOOT to realize that we are part of a larger Social Enterprise that caters to the needs of each single veteran.
In addition to our dedicated volunteers and staff at REBOOT, we have a symbiotic relationship with our sister nonprofits, providing what we each do best. And partnering with us are funding institutions – individual donors, institutional philanthropies, academia and other research organizations, VA and other government agencies, and most of all, prospective employers – together we constitute a Veteran’s Ecosystem. It’s based on a pull system wherein prospective employers who are interested in hiring our country’s veterans are able to capitalize on our increasing pool of Veterans Ready for Hire.
We have all heard or read about returning veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan and the psychological and physical problems they face from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury to substance dependency and alienation from their families.
NVTSI provides returning military personnel with the tools and retraining they need to return to civilian life as productive, acclimated, and effective individuals capable of attaining success and thriving in their new lives. War veterans return from a life of vigilance safeguarding our everyday existence, and are unable to find the life they left behind.
Their culture: the military culture is out of place and at odds with the job market. Society is foreign, their families are strangers, they do not know what they want to do with their new lives – they are out of sync with what used to be home. For many, societal reintegration is out of reach without help.
The government does a great job introducing separating military personnel to the job search and veteran’s benefits, but the community has to help returning service people reintegrate, making the leap to a new independent mindset, reversing the boot camp experience that has given them the skills and mentality they need to survive in a combat-driven environment.
To learn more about the REBOOT Workshop™ visit us at www.rebootworkshop.vet