MALE DISPOSABILITY – Employers reluctant to hire veterans for fear of PTSD


Here’s a sad but predictable situation. Veterans generally have worse unemployment rates than the general population, although there has been an anomalous improvement recently. Some employers make special a special effort to hire veterans, but others make another kind of special effort – they shy away from hiring guys who might have “flashbacks.” Yeah, that old stereotype has not died yet.

I can sympathize….no, I just feel sorry for these ignorant people. Of course an employer has to be careful in hiring. The article says that small employers are the most reluctant simply because they don’t have the depth or resources to deal with what they perceive to be special needs employees. And that really is a valid reason to be careful. But this goes beyond caution. The sense I get is that these employers are more just afraid of the unknown than making calculated decisions.

“In large part, that’s because just below the simple math of supply and demand, a dark group-psychology seems to be at play, Carruthers said. Battle-related mental illness — diagnosed in some returning veterans but apparently associated with all of them — is tainting many or most job-hunting veterans.

“The stigma of PTSD is at the top of the list,” said Carruthers, president and CEO of the Disability Management Employer Coalition, a nonprofit.

“These veterans are exactly the kinds of people you’d want to hire — they’re used to working as a team; they’re loyal; you give them an order and they follow through,” Carruthers said. “So some of this is related to the types of injuries we’re seeing — and, I would say, really, due to the fear of employers in terms of bringing back these people. If they were coming home with broken legs, it would be a different thing. There’s a fear factor.”

And if they only knew….how many of their other workers have PTSD to one degree or another, they would be horrified, I guess. When I was in the Washington National Guard, one of our Sergeants major served often on medical elimination boards for guys returning from deployment with PTSD issues – because she herself was a PTSD sufferer as a result of domestic abuse! She was valued as a board member because she was considered to have a special insight into the problem. So what are these employers going to do – get hinky about hiring DV survivors?

What’s really going on is a form of othering. Given the rates of citizens actually serving in the military, the military has become about as marginal and mysterious a sub-culture as the Amish. People just don’t know what to think about veterans, and they take the counsel of their fears just to stay safe. Maybe that’s where we should start.

Jim Doyle
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<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="2967">7 comments</span>

  • I’m not seeing any reason to believe that this isn’t just companies wanting to avoid dealing with potential lawsuits based on their lack of mental health accomodations.

  • I’m dealing with that Hobson’s choice right now: have my (informal, at this time) diagnosis of PTSD added to my medical records to receive permanent VA medical coverage and to increase my disability rating, or ignore it (and cancel by biweekly therapy sessions, as I have a highly atypical response to psych meds) and remain marketable/hireable. Guaranteed health insurance at a cost in income or the possibility of earning a much higher income that can be legally withdrawn at any given time.

  • Druk, I’m not quite following; wouldn’t this kind of hiring pattern increase their exposure to that kind of allegation? If they are not hiring, and in a discriminatory way, and they say by way of exculpation that its because they don’t accomodate this kind of disability – not can’t by the nature of the work or whatever, but just don’t – then that sounds like a pretty direct shot at their own foot.

    And MaMu, that is exactly the kind of bind people find themselves in with any kind of disability, and it’s what various laws and policies are supposed to alleviate.

  • I’ve found it to be pretty predictable – pretty much any time I have a falling out with just about anyone, for any reason, I can expect them to throw in, “It’s the military that made you this way… blah blah blah.” Ironically, this includes religious types who argue about my atheism as well as girlfriends after they had cheated on me. Being a military vet is a catch-all for anything you don’t like about a person and combat related PTSD carries a stigma with it that seems to bring the armchair psychologists out of the woodwork.

    How do people react if a man had a disagreement with a woman and told her, “Geeze, slut! Someone must have raped you. Go get help, okay? I could never date someone like you!” Why is it actually okay for women to react the same exact way to military veterans? And at the same time, why do those very people get to get away with saying that they care about PTSD when they turn around and start spouting their opinion of just how big a problem it is?

  • Ginko, it’s a lot easier to hide your reasons for not hiring someone than it is to hide your reasons for firing them later.

    In aggregate, small businesses may be refusing to hire veterans left and right, but each individual company might only refuse one or two applicants – which is too few to show any sort of hiring pattern for that specific company.

  • dungone, that first point is very true.

    And I agree with your second point, and frankly, it isn’t the onesies or twosies of this that are troubling, because veterans do have a certain amount of support and network that other unemployed people don’t. They just have a greater moral claim too, though. But when it becomes a pattern, across entire indistries or in entire regions, if that’s really what’s happening, then it’s a problem

  • Business is about making money. I agree with making financial decisions in an arena where only money matters. Business leaders need to make these difficult decisions.

    Government is about using our military for imperialist desires.

    Much like men have discovered the evils of feminism, the military wounded discovers the evils of their controllers.

    When ex-service persons discover the negatives of voluntary signup, they will decline, and its already happening.

    Its like growing up and making our own mistakes – is the main ways we learn.

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