veteransBy RaeAnn Thomas

Employee assistance programs earn their keep by helping employees reach and maintain effective work performance. This includes embracing new ways of assisting soldiers returning to the workplace from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These individuals are expected to re-enter, assimilate back into their respective companies, and quickly regain the high level of effectiveness they had prior to deployment. However, the stark reality for employers is that these individuals have been exposed to highly stressful and sometimes traumatic experiences.

Companies cannot expect that military organizations alone will be able to meet the needs of returning service members and facilitate their return to work. Therefore, EAP plays a key role in assisting these employees in the process of re-integration into the workplace.

EAP needs to take advantage of the opportunity to educate and support the managers and co-workers of returning service members. Helping non-military employees understand the process of returning from duty and re-integration back into the workplace can facilitate effective and important cultural support in the workplace.

Long after military conflicts are over, these issues also beg a bigger question: “What are we as EA professionals doing for those in the workplace that have experienced traumatic experiences?” It cannot be overstated: even those who do not seek direct counseling would surely benefit from any effort we committed to building and maintaining a workplace culture that embraces and practices support and sensitivity to all employees who cope with trauma.

This article is excerpted from the cover story of the May “Employee Assistance Report” newsletter. For a free trial, visit the “Employee Assistance Professionals” link at  RaeAnn Thomas is a long-time contributor to this newsletter, and the director of Ministry Associated Employee Assistance Services.


National Center for PTSD —

Operation Comfort —

Wounded Warrior Project —