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Helping returning reservists deal with post-traumatic stress


The National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs, estimates the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder is 18% from service in Iraq and 11% for soldiers returning from Afghanistan. However, for soldiers who have completed multiple tours, up to 70% will have PTSD, ComPsych Corp. estimates.

How employers can help:

Encourage returning reservists to use employee assistance programs and remind them that their families are covered as well. Counseling for spouses can be especially beneficial.

m Work-life services can ease the transition with help on financial and legal questions.

Meet with reservists' managers to discuss reintegrating reservists back into the workplace and consider reduced workload/ responsibilities or reduced work schedule to ease reservists back into their jobs.

Educate managers about what to expect of returning reservists, including symptoms of PTSD-such as withdrawal, irritability and absenteeism-and what steps to take if employees are having trouble.

Educate managers about being sensitive to reservists' need for or aversion to talking. Some will want to discuss their experience at length while others will prefer not to discuss it at all, so managers should not pry.