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Career Readiness Framework

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  • 1. Framework for the Outcome of Career Readiness David M. Paschane, Ph.D. Returning home from military service during a war is a complex and individually unique experience. The servicemember and servicemember’s family have changed, there are many possible emergent and unknown needs, and the future career path is uncertain. Taken all together and all at once, the transition can become overwhelming and disjointed for the servicemember. Meanwhile, a broad selection of assistance in different forms and locations is offered by Federal, state, local, and private organizations. To date, no single entity matches the many forms of assistance to servicemembers’ changing needs, and monitors their combined effectiveness. This chapter frames the mix of needs and assistance to provide a conceptual order to their interactions. The framework can be used to reform assistance to ensure a transition home that is smooth, effective, and complete for every single servicemember. Historically, the Federal government addressed the needs of servicemembers based on their military or civilian status. If an individual is in the military they are expected to sustain combat readiness. When they separated from the military they are on their own, unless they qualify for veteran benefits, which they would pursue directly through the VA. Since the Persian Gulf War the military has made greater commitments to reinstating injured servicemembers and those who have a desire to serve again. The commitment is necessary when 70% of officers and 90% of enlisted are not making the military their lifetime career. The military loses approximately 130,000 personnel a year, so there is a clear need to make reinstatement attractive and possible. Increasingly, military organizations have a role in the restoration process, even if it leads to separation and pursuit of a civilian career. The exiting servicemember who is restored before separation is more likely to have a positive effect on future recruitment through reputation or direct influence, serve as a civilian military employee, or reinstate with the same or another military component in the future. A framework for improving the effectiveness of assistance to Global War on Terror Heroes begins with a concise conceptual organization of the transition and its many elements. The goal is to capture the complexity of servicemembers’ transition experiences while using a single description from beginning to end. The beginning state in this framework is the combat readiness that servicemembers are required to maintain throughout their time in the military. The end state is career readiness as a civilian, or reinstatement to the military if the restoration process creates an opportunity and interest for returning to service. The following diagram illustrates the transition from combat readiness DMP June 2007 Page 1
  • 2. through the restoration process, and to the end state that results from the efforts of the servicemember and the organizations that offer assistance. Military to Civilian Transition and the Restoration Process Restoration Process Rehabilitation Stabilization Combat Readiness Reinstate Separate Preparation Carrer Readiness Combat Readiness Possible Separation Family Home Physical Psychological Training Opportunity The end points in the diagram, career readiness and combat readiness, are the desired states produced by the combined elements in the restoration process. The state of combat readiness is well-known and readily measured in the military; however, career readiness is generally not an explicit goal. Career readiness does not equate to having a job; rather, it denotes when the restoration process ensures the servicemember can continue a satisfying path of personal and economic achievement. While in the military, servicemembers can gain valuable experience and training, but they have limited time to prepare for career readiness. Because military duties are paramount while on active duty, the timeframe for achieving career readiness is short. It is important that organizations that assist servicemembers create methods for achieving career readiness (or reinstatement), suitable to each servicemembers’ needs within the restoration process. DMP June 2007 Page 2
  • 3. The Restoration Process There is no one single restoration process that fits each and every servicemember. The process varies by servicemembers’ experiences, injuries, and family circumstances. In general, restoration includes rehabilitation of the physical functioning and psychological resiliency of the individual, stabilization of the family and home economically and emotionally, and preparation for a career and quality of life through training and opportunities. In general, the success of the restoration process is dependent on the timeliness of actions, the quality of services, the coordination of the various elements, and the completeness of the process. It is possible that unnecessary delays, barriers, and misinformation can exasperate the servicemember and even magnify existing problems, such as physical and psychological symptoms. Because the timeframe for achieving career readiness is relatively brief, and there can be potential risk to health conditions, it is critical that the restoration process rely on the best methods of communication, coordination, management, and oversight in each of the major elements. These methods are rapidly changing with the advancement of new information technologies. Contemporary technologies have increased the ability of all kinds of consumers to directly access professionals and volunteers with various expertise and influence, while tracking and monitoring performance and quality. Because servicemembers’ transitions are exceptional and restoration is complex, the right combinations of contemporary methods may need to be explored across groups of servicemembers and their types of restoration. For many servicemembers, restoration is simple and nearly automatic as it requires no more than adapting to a civilian culture, reorienting to family dynamics, and reevaluating personal ambitions. In the case of those with long deployments, injuries, and other complications, the servicemember and the family face changing complexities and uncertainness. For example, those who are rehabilitating from a severe injury may lack the time and resource to pursue aspects of stabilization and preparation. The home, family, and career are put on hold. Nevertheless, assistance organizations can anticipate these demands and changing needs, and create appropriate plans for ensuring full completion of the restoration process. Rehabilitation Rehabilitation, especially for the severely injured, means the prevention of a lifelong disability. Today’s advancements in rehabilitation techniques are well utilized if not created by both the military and veteran health systems. When impairment is not mitigated and is likely to lead to a functional limitation, it is necessary to plan for alternative strategies that restore abilities and lead to career readiness. Alternative strategies to full restoration of function can include methods of augmented function, enabling technology, and work accommodation. DMP June 2007 Page 3
  • 4. These strategies should not be isolated from rehabilitation; rather they are continuations of care leading to a desired outcome. The strategies enable demonstrated benefits of work as therapy, and reinforcement of self-managed health. Similar methods of rehabilitation exist for psychological resiliency and mind-body interactions of health, especially when recovery from stress, anxiety, and depression can be organized to advance self-care, lifestyle changes, and life-long grit (a notion of positive psychology adopted by the military service academies to predict success under stressful conditions). Rehabilitation of the mind and body is a continuum of healthcare that extends beyond physical function and should sustain the restoration progress leading to career readiness (or reinstatement). The servicemember’s healthcare is dependent on his or her health community, that is, the services and providers that are reasonably accessible. The servicemember’s use of appropriate services is affected by the difficulties of arranging an appointment, waiting for the appointment, arranging time for the appointment, traveling to the location, finding parking, waiting for the provider, completing paperwork, communicating needs, understanding the provider’s instructions, filling prescriptions, and returning home. If healthcare access is not reasonable, the servicemember’s care-seeking motivation and behavior is discouraged. Furthermore, when servicemembers live in health communities where services are limited by geography (e.g., rural or remote), or where existing services are not accessible because of eligibility requirements (e.g., incompatible payment systems), access can be even more problematic. Since rehabilitation is embedded within the restoration process, it needs to be designed to fit the whole person. A major concern in designing the quality and continuity of rehabilitation is the effect that management systems have on different patients. Selecting the correct levels and forms of management are critical for achieving maximum functional capacity over time. There are risks in over managing or under managing an individual’s rehabilitation because the process is also affecting the patient’s agency in areas of self-care, physical training, and self-reinforcement of motivation and confidence to achieve future goals. Stabilization The stabilization phase of restoration is critical because it centers on the servicemember’s ability to return to a normal life after physical and psychological needs become manageable. A lack of stability during the restoration process can become overwhelming and have long-term effects, especially on individual resiliency and the welfare and continuity of the family. Stabilization is a relatively predictable process. The servicemember needs to be financially capable of completing the restoration process, the emotional and developmental needs of children need to be met, the spouse needs opportunities DMP June 2007 Page 4
  • 5. to achieve his or her personal and economic goals, and the home and transportation needs to be reliable and suitable for family and disabilities requirements. It is not enough that these needs are addressed categorically, but rather they are met in such a way that the servicemember can continue in the restoration process. This may include flexible assistance, such as having the ability to purchase a home or acquire transitional housing early, career coaching for the spouse, or coordination of community volunteers who can assist in family support programs. While stabilization needs may be predictable, they are not simple; so, the ability for assistance organizations to be flexible, coordinated, and inclusive is necessary for servicemembers and their families. To the degree that rehabilitation of the mind and body is not sufficient for full restoration, economic compensation is necessary for ensuring that the desired end state is fulfilled through economic stabilization. Correct compensation for a disability is difficult to design within a restoration process because of the challenge of separating the disability from the normal course of diminished function that is experienced by all adults (due to aging, health behaviors, and genetics). However, as the design of the restoration process improves over time and the results are well monitored, it is possible to adjust the compensation methods to ensure economic compensation accurately meets losses due to disability. Furthermore, the improvement in accuracy can allow for greater adoption of automated processing that can ensure greater appropriateness of claims and verification of adjudication fairness. In the case of a severely injured servicemember, the immediate and extended family may be direct caregivers. In these cases, stabilization can become very complex and difficult to sustain because of dual family roles, diminished resources throughout the family, and risks to family security and well-being. These more complex cases require an even greater commitment by assistance organizations to be responsive to changing stabilization needs. Preparation Historically, servicemembers prepared for civilian careers by participating in workshops at the time of separation from active duty (e.g., Transition Assistance Program). The effects of this and other forms of preparation have largely been unknown. Recently, VA completed two studies that provide a baseline description of what servicemembers have experienced in the civilian workforce and may experience in the future. The studies examined employment histories in recently separated servicemembers and the perspectives of hiring mangers in private sector businesses. Existing national data, such as the Census, suggests that servicemembers face significant economic and employment challenges after returning to the civilian sectors. Their unemployment rates are much higher than their matched peers for two years after discharge, and the unemployment rates remain high for up to ten DMP June 2007 Page 5
  • 6. years. They are much more likely than their matched peers to be represented among low income families for eight years after discharge. Even among those with college degrees, compared to their matched peers they are less likely to reach senior management positions. While it is well-known that servicemembers leave the military motivated to work, and can often find a job, their preparation may not be at the level that enables career readiness. When the preparation phase of the restoration process is not complete, the subsequent career stagnation can create additional problems, such as exasperated physical symptoms, heightened anxieties, and overall bitterness towards the military and assistance organizations. The marketability of the servicemember is dependent on their training and how well it matches the interests of potential employers. Even among those who continue their education and training with the intent of being more marketable, they may not be prepared to access desired careers. The human resource officers who said they have interviewed military veterans in the past reported that these candidates were not prepared to market themselves to the business environment—they did not seem to understand the culture and expectations. After serving in the military for a few years, it is unlikely that servicemembers have developed the opportunities to access quality careers through networks and mentors. Interviews with private sector hiring mangers and talent acquisition specialists revealed that a majority of the high-quality careers are hidden opportunities that require direct channels of access. Both groups revealed that they rely heavily on sources that can qualify the business value of candidates and then prepare them for successful interviews, much like what is provided by the alumni associations of military service academies. Although on-line affinity networks have become popular for the military (e.g., military.com), these are not on par with the comprehensive network programs operated by top-tier alumni and talent acquisition organizations. The preparation phase in the restoration process has to prepare servicemembers who fight in 4th-Generation Warfare to return to a 21st-Century Workforce. Recently, the military has worked on assisting servicemembers in completing and translating their skills to match equivalent civilian job descriptions; however, training for marketability may require much more preparation than having the ability to improve a resume. Employers are seeking candidates with business acumen and leadership, which may exists in many servicemembers, but it needs to be calibrated or enhanced to sell it to civilian businesses. Likewise, preparation for career readiness may require guidance and coaching from multiple individuals who have knowledge about opportunities and are already working in companies that may match the servicemember. Preparation that completes the restoration process may be more complicated than simply reorienting servicemembers. There are also institutional considerations. For example, education and training programs may need to be DMP June 2007 Page 6
  • 7. redesigned to maximize the transfer value of military experiences and enable internships and contract work that connects servicemembers to career opportunities. Early integration of the people who create training and opportunities, into the restoration process, can help ensure a successful end state of career readiness (or reinstatement). DMP June 2007 Page 7
  • 8. Operations and Infrastructure In order for the restoration process to match the needs of servicemembers it needs to be supported by operations and infrastructure that can meet emergent needs in all their complexity, and sustain the capacity for timely, high-quality, coordinated, and complete restoration. Each phase in the restoration process can fail if the operations and infrastructure are inadequate. The infrastructure and operations should be designed to adapt to the improving restoration process. Because the establishment of assistance organizations is costly, the additional investment for being adaptable is often not made. Assistance organizations may want to fund demonstration projects that can be used to test which forms of adaptation are cost-effective. The infrastructural aspects of the restoration process require plans for many factors in rehabilitation, stabilization, and preparation. It also requires identification of monitoring capacity, information management, and enabling the roles of the servicemember so as to maintain his of her engagement and self- investment in restoration. The operational aspects are designs to ensure the restoration process is robust enough to address the complexity faced by servicemembers and their families, that information is available and actionable, and that the alignment is correct for adding valuable elements while removing non-valuable activity. The best infrastructure and operations are not always apparent. However, private-sector methods can provide useful comparisons for identifying what is possible. For example, a competitive private business has to monitor the entire value chain to ensure that their actions lead to satisfied and committed customers. The business uses various methods to receive feedback from customers, and then use the feedback to change the value proposition and buying experience. With the adoption of advanced information technologies, businesses are able to make these changes faster and specific to each customer. These methods are adopted by some organizations that assist servicemembers, but for the most part these organizations are operating within limited categories of bureaucratic activities. As a result, there are few opportunities to modify assistance to match the unique and time-sensitive needs of the servicemember. When feedback is received from servicemembers, often in the form of surveys, the information lags behind the restoration process of the respondent, and the information is truncated to match the interest of the bureaucracy. DMP June 2007 Page 8
  • 9. Analytic Framework The Global War on Terror is challenging the Federal government to reevaluate how it serves the needs of returning heroes. The responsibilities of the Federal government may have to change to ensure successful restoration processes in all servicemembers. It is apparent that state and local governments and the private sector are making tremendous contributions to the transition home and to various aspects of the restoration process. The Federal government can take a leading role in determining potential gaps in assistance and how these can be addressed. The following summarizes the goals of the restoration process, and the objectives of the rehabilitation, stabilization, and preparation phases. Restoration Process Goal Ensure that all servicemembers can continue a satisfying path of personal and economic achievement by reaching a transition end point of career readiness, with the option of reinstatement into the military if feasible. This goal is achieved through a restoration process that includes (a) rehabilitation of the physical functioning and psychological resiliency, (b) stabilization of the family and home economically and emotionally, and (c) preparation for desired career and quality of life through training and opportunities. The restoration process should be predictable, effective, and complete for every servicemember. Rehabilitation Objective The rehabilitation phase should restore the whole person, physical and psychological functioning, with methods that are reinforcing self-care, lifestyle improvement, and resiliency. The continuity of rehabilitation into healthcare should be sustained by ensuring reasonably accessible services. Stabilization Objective The stabilization phase should support the completion of the restoration process by ensuring economic needs are sufficient and continuous, economic losses due to disability are accurately compensated, children’s emotional and developmental needs are met, spouse’s personal and economic goals can be achieved, and housing and transportation needs meet family and disabilities requirements on time. Preparation Objective The preparation phase should enable pursuit of career goals by offering training and creating opportunities to effectively market the servicemember to employers. The training should be calibrated to match industries’ interest, including the DMP June 2007 Page 9
  • 10. development of business acumen and leadership. Preparation should be appropriate for achieving therapeutic benefits and overcoming disabilities that limit function. The following table organizes the phases in the restoration process with the operations and infrastructure of assistance organizations, in terms of their response to emergent needs and their capacity for robust assistance. The twelve domains of assistance organize the match between assistance organizations and the servicemember’s restoration process. The next step is to analyze the combined performance of entities within each assistance domain and the means by which these are organized and coordinated. Table of Twelve Assistance Domains Operations and Infrastructure Emergent responses to complex needs Robust capacity for restoration completion Physical function and health Rehabilitation Psychological function and health Family well-being and economic security Stabilization Home affordability and accommodation Training for marketability Preparation Opportunity to access quality careers The following lists organize key information that can describe assistance organizations, gaps in assistance, and possible solutions for improvements in assistance. Persons of Interest • Servicemembers • Servicemembers’ families • Assistance providers • Administrators of assistance organizations DMP June 2007 Page 10
  • 11. Principles for Effective Assistance • Anticipate demands and changing needs • Integrate plans for restoration completion • Prepare for emergent and unknown needs • Identify risk factors in process lifecycle Operational Criteria • Timely actions • Quality services • Coordinated elements • Process completeness • Adaptable designs • Inclusive organization Technology Utilization • Communication • Coordination • Management • Oversight • Analysis Restoration Challenges • Short timeframe of transition • Finding assistance (e.g., appropriate types, locations) • Reasonable access (e.g., time burdens, service integration, eligibility) • Family caregivers (e.g., diminished resources, added stress) • Preserving agency (e.g., self-care, self-reinforcement) • Work disability (e.g., augmented function, enabling technology) • Career marketability to employers (e.g., matches, channels) DMP June 2007 Page 11
  • 12. Case Management Issues Case Management Complications • Geography of rural and remote veterans • Timing of decompression from combat and triggered symptoms • Attitudes about technological independence versus “managers” • Organizing reasonable triage with potential escalating needs • Risks of over managing towards bureaucratic behavior Case Management Needs • Authority to move disparate processes • Ease of information management • Ease of coordination across community and Federal resources • Easy use of strong local channels to employment • No crossover conflict with outreach and management entities Principles in Case Management • Optimize the client’s role in self-management • Rely on IT to reduce non-client time burdens • Optimize use of community volunteers / professionals • Minimize non-client time bureaucratic functions DMP June 2007 Page 12
  • 13. DMP June 2007 Page 13 Possible Gaps • Case management design does not fit these particular needs • Limited geographic monitoring of access and utilization problems • No single entity matching assistance organizations to changing needs • No single entity monitoring effectiveness of combined assistance • No single entity coordinating communities’ family support • Lack of integration of people who can create training and opportunities • Education/training programs not tailored to transfer workforce value • No internships connecting servicemembers to career opportunities • Unknown accuracy of compensation for diminished work function