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Disability Managers Mobilize Support For Veterans

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Insurers and an employer group are uniting to put their expertise to work helping citizen soldiers return to civilian life.

The Disability Management Employer Coalition, San Diego, is joining with 3 major disability carriers to advise employers about ways to use employee assistance programs and mentoring programs to support members of the Guard and Reserve who are coming back from tours of duty in locations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

DMEC has formed a Workplace Warrior Think Tank to spearhead the effort.

The carriers working with the think tank to launch the effort are Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford; MetLife Inc., New York; and Unum Group Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn.

The think tank co-chairs are Marcia Carruthers, chief executive officer of DMEC, and Carol Harnett, a vice president at Hartford.

About 20% of citizen soldiers have been deployed more than once since 2001, rates of physical injury are high, and many of the returning combat veterans are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder as a result of their experiences, think tank organizers say.

The think tank has developed a collection of recommendations for employers and posted it on the DMEC Web site, at Document Link

The think tank is urging employers to use EAPs to help employees and employees’ family members cope with the health, work and family challenges resulting from lengthy overseas deployments.

Employers also can help by assigning other veterans they employ to mentor the newly returning veterans.

Employers also should:

- Celebrate employees’ return to the workplace.

- Explain changes that occurred while the employees were gone.

- Educate supervisors about signs of possible PTSD problems, such as outbursts of anger, reports of sleeping difficulties, and signs newly returned veterans are avoiding contact with other employees.