Disability Evaluation Director Urges “Can-Do” Mindset during Transition

SUFFOLK, Virginia – Having served 28 years in the U.S. Air Force and then transitioning to a civilian government  role, Mr. Bret Stevens, director of Disability Evaluation Systems for the Office of Warrior Care Policy, knows first-hand that transitioning from active duty to veteran status can be challenging for service members and their families. During his keynote remarks at the Joint Staff J7 Directorate’s Wounded Warrior Internship Program Awareness Day last month, he emphasized that applying the same “can-do mentality” from service to civilian employment is key.

“For years, a lot of you have worried about the team and taking care of others,” he said. “Now you have to take initiative and do what’s necessary for you to move forward.”

Finding a steady career path after separation is difficult for everyone, but it can often be even more difficult for our wounded, ill, and injured service members. Given that this career path is often accompanied with additional challenges, such as navigating medical appointments and physical therapy, service members need flexibility and specialized support during their rehabilitation process.

Photo of Mr. Bret Stevens speaking at the Joint Staff J-7 Wounded Warrior Internship Program Awareness Day

Mr. Bret Stevens, director of Disability Evaluation Systems for the Office of Warrior Care Policy, left, gives keynote remarks as Brigadier General Stephen M. Neary, deputy director for the Joint Staff J7 Directorate, right, looks on.

 

“A 2014 study by the Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University found that nearly half of all veterans surveyed lasted just 12 months or less in their first post-separation job,” said Mr. Stevens. “DoD established programs like Operation Warfighter to help mitigate these statistics by building service members’ skills, confidence, and experience in the workplace so they can find long-term success post-transition.”

To date, the Office of Warrior Care Policy’s working relationships with over 900 federal agencies and offices have helped to facilitate over 9,000 internship placements for wounded, ill, and injured service members. Additionally, more than 77 percent of eligible service members are placed in their desired internships through Operation Warfighter.

Said Mr. Stevens to service members in attendance, “We want to do what we can because you’ve done what you could.”

To learn more about Operation Warfighter, please visit: http://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/wounded-warrior-resources/operation-warfighter/