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Business Sense

Putting Military Experience to Work

Ask any business owner the skills they seek in new hires and any veteran what they learned in the military, and you'll likely hear the same things ― the ability to adapt, learn quickly and get the job done. These characteristics exemplify veterans, including those with visible or invisible disabilities.

One example is Meg Krause, a five-year active duty Army veteran who today continues to serve in the Reserves as a noncommissioned officer in charge of a medical section in Pennsylvania. Krause's active duty included two overseas tours. During the first, she flew combat casualty missions, transferring wounded soldiers from Baghdad to Germany for medical care. During the second, she ran a medical evacuation squad on the ground in Iraq.

After completing active duty, Krause enrolled at Pennsylvania State University. Two and a half years later, she started experiencing problems coping with the pressures of finishing college and starting a civilian career. As an Army medic, Krause knew the signs of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but didn't recognize them in herself. Fortunately, others did, and convinced her to get help.

Krause completed her degree in public relations in 2008 and today works as a communications consultant with a PR firm in the Washington, DC area. Even though her military and civilian roles differ, she uses the skills she gained in the military ― and through the treatment and recovery process ― every day. She feels the key to success for people with PTSD and other psychological health problems is effective communication, and that the responsibility rests with both employer and employee.

"You need to talk to your employer to make sure you're on the same page," Krause says. "And if you are the employer, it really isn't different than with any other employee. You need to communicate. You need to say if something is going on. Veterans in particular will respond to this. They'll say 'okay, so how do we fix this?'"

Sound like a good strategy for all employees? That's because good workplace practices for people with disabilities typically benefit everyone and make good business sense.

To meet Krause - and several other talented individuals with disabilities - view the "I Can" public service announcement on the Campaign for Disability Employment's What Can YOU Do? Web site. To learn how you can help returning service members who may be affected by PTSD succeed in the workplace, visit the America's Heroes at Work Web site

For additional news and resources, sign up for ODEP's e-mail updates.