1.1. Introduction and Objectives
Veterans who have disabilities often do not think of themselves as people with disabilities. Instead, most will quickly and proudly refer to themselves as a "disabled veteran" or a "wounded warrior." Language matters when it comes to understanding all of the legal protections and entitlements, and accessing eligibility-based services and resources within the community. This is especially true when considering education or entering the workforce.
Whether you are newly injured or you acquired a disability many years ago, the way in which you deal with it may have a great impact on your future education and employment opportunities. Many veterans with significant disabilities have difficulty accepting the fact that they are not the same as they once were. Consider talking to someone who can help you find some perspective. This may be a fellow veteran, a counselor, or even a family member.
This Knowledge Book will provide you with a great deal of the information you will need to make educated and informed decisions regarding your academic and/or career future. It will focus on the basics of disability, both from a veteran standpoint and a civilian one; equip you with ideas and suggestions for creating a proactive plan for education and/or employment; and supply you with some very important resources, some of which may be unfamiliar to members of the veterans and military communities.
The information contained in this Knowledge Book is intended to be an overview that will help you find the resources you should connect with to guide you in participating in the civilian world of education or employment or both. It is not intended to give you the answers to all of your questions, but to encourage you to seek out answers, ask more questions, and make informed decisions. A series of basic objectives are presented at the beginning of each section and represent the critical points presented.
Regardless of whether or not the occupation you performed while in the military will translate easily to one in the civilian workforce, not all veterans choose the same type of occupation after their service. The transition to employment is like a road map. Unless you first define your destination, you're not likely to get there without a lot of luck. Thoughtful planning is a crucial element to career development, but not one often considered by most.
Section 2 Objectives:
- Learn a series of steps to help you prepare to enter the civilian workforce, as a veteran with a disability.
- Consider reasonable accommodations and whether or not (and how) to disclose your disability at work.
- Identify the multiple pathways to employment and the resources available for each.