Military caregiver leave, which was amended to the FMLA in January 2008 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, provides unpaid leave to employees who need to take time away from work to help care for a covered family member who became ill or was injured in the line of duty. This leave can be critical to these employees. But what about when the employee is the service member? There are ways that employers can offer assistance to employee service member, as well.
Employment can play a major role in the recovery of wounded and injured service members. To support these brave men and women in their return to civilian life, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), has launched two employment-related outreach programs for returning service members and their employers—REALifelines and America’s Heroes at Work.
Recovery & Employment Assistance Lifelines (REALifelines)
The DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), developed the REALifelines program, which is managed by the DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The program creates a personalized network to ensure that wounded and injured service members are trained for rewarding careers in the public and private sectors. REALifelines provides wounded and injured service members—and their primary caregivers—the opportunity to meet face-to-face with a Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program specialist who provides guidance on how to secure employment and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
America’s Heroes at Work
The DOL’s second initiative, America’s Heroes at Work, focuses on the employment challenges of returning service members living with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which are two of the most common injuries among today’s service members. America’s Heroes at Work offers a variety of educational resources devoted to workplace best practices for returning service members with TBI and PTSD. Materials include fact sheets, Web-based training tools, educational presentations and more—all designed for employers, workforce development professionals, service branches, key military support systems, veterans’ service organizations and One-Stop Career Centers.
These two programs are representative of the ODEP’s ongoing efforts to give the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces practical assistance in their transition back to civilian life. Employers who employ service members or the family of service members should not hesitate to take advantage of the many initiatives made available by the DOL and ODEP.