Is a mental health diagnosis still a stigma for combat veterans seeking careers in civilian life?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/mental-health-the-hazards_b_618507.html

I wrote in my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, about the shock of being told in my last interview with General Telephone & Telegraph (GTE) in 1965 that they could not hire me because of a “note” on my DD214.  I learned the note showed a diagnosis of a mental disorder as the reason for my early Honorable separation from the US Navy.  I was later hired by the Western Union Telegraph Company, and the rest his history.   GTE was the loser on this one…

In the above link Dr. Peter Breggin discusses the hazards of mental disorder diagnosis.  Stigma is a big one.  Why would GTE at the time in 1965 not hire someone fresh out of the Navy with an honorable discharge and all the excellent training in radio communications and electronics, including experience in a communications center in Pearl Harbor?  It was certainly confusing to me and disconcerting to say the least.  I survived, however!  And in great style, going on to a highly successful career in the information technology industry and finishing my college education along the way.

A mental disorder diagnosis is still a stigma!  Too much is said about PTSD rather than the challenges of life after war for combat veterans and loved ones.  We need to change the conversation.  I have been reading and hearing more about this lately, and represent an example of a veteran who experienced the mental health stigma very early in my life and career.  Those who are responsible for hiring and in HR organizations in all companies should take note and try to be objective about hiring practices.  You may lose some hot talent like me along the way and the competition wins by being more perceptive and resourceful.  Something to think about…

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Painful reminder of my father and countless shipmates who experienced Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/07/world-war-ii-pearl-harbor/100117/

Since researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, I am not afraid to be reminded of my Dad’s heroic service at the beginning of WWII in Pearl Harbor.  Vernon H. Sparks along with thousands of shipmates serving in the US Naval Pacific Fleet, including some 2,400 Americans killed, will never be forgotten; and the lessons learned live on in all of us for generations as a legacy of war.

The above link from The Atlantic “In Focus” with Alan Tayor shows photos from Pearl Harbor and many other battles and events during WWII.  Many of the photos are from Japanese archives and other sources.

“On December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the United States, bombing warships and military targets in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. More than 350 Japanese aircraft attacked the naval base in two waves, strafing targets, dropping armor-piercing bombs, and launching torpedoes toward U.S. battleships and cruisers. The U.S. forces were unprepared, waking to the sounds of explosions and scrambling to defend themselves. The entire preemptive attack lasted only 90 minutes, and in that time, the Japanese sunk four battleships and two destroyers, pummeled 188 aircraft, and damaged even more buildings, ships and airplanes. (Two of the battleships were later raised and returned to service.) Some 2,400 Americans were killed in the attack; another 1,250 were injured, and a huge shock was dealt to United States. After the attack, Japan officially declared war on the United States. The next day President Roosevelt delivered his famous “infamy” speech, and signed a formal declaration of war against the Empire of Japan. Within days, Nazi Germany and the Kingdom of Italy also declared war on the United States, and the U.S. reciprocated soon after. (This entry is Part 7 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II) [45 photos]”


Take pride in your history and honor the fallen.

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story