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Iraq And Afghanistan War Veterans Still Battling Unemployment

Employer fears of PTSD may be a contributing factor.


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Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have long faced serious challenges finding work when they leave the military. The job prospects of such veterans are improving, but there’s still a lot of ground to make up.

Kevin Troutman is a partner in the Houston office of labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips. Troutman says he’s worked with many employers who value veterans as potential employees. But he also says there’s a widespread misconception that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

“There’s a concern,” Troutman says, “that returning veterans may be more likely to experience some kind of an incident or act out in the workplace if they’ve been in combat, if they have post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Troutman says that an employer who refuses to hire someone because of their military service — out of fear they may have PTSD — is violating federal labor law. He also notes that refusing to hire someone who actually does have PTSD may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans registered 7.2 percent in October, according to the U.S. Labor Department. That’s down from 10 percent a year ago. But it’s still well above the nationwide unemployment rate of 5.8 percent.