benefits

Disabled Veterans And Employers: Moving From Surviving To Thriving

Veterans with disabilities experience gaps in their workplace benefits

 A new research paper, from Voya Financial and Easterseals, explores how employers can help with transitioning from military service, as well as finances, mental health support and caregiving needs. View the complete research report here.

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–New research from Easterseals — one of the nation’s leading disability and community services providers — and Voya Cares® — which provides resources, thought leadership and advocacy for disability inclusion, was released today. The results of this new study, which are further outlined in a research paper, titled “Disabled Veterans and employers: moving from surviving to thriving,” underscore the importance for companies to understand more about the needs of veterans with disabilities. With better understanding, employers can provide benefits to help meet their needs and education to encourage veterans and their caregivers to take full advantage of these resources. Among other findings, the research shows:

  • While 60% of all veterans described their transition from the service as “easy,” only 37% of veterans with disabilities said the same.
  • About half (51%) of disabled veterans are confident in their ability to cover day-to-day expenses, and few are confident they could handle the cost of retirement.

 

  • Only 55% of disabled veterans are satisfied with their mental and emotional health (as compared to 75% of nondisabled veterans).

“Employers are increasingly recruiting veterans, in part because of a common set of characteristics that make them great employees, such as leadership, adaptability and teamwork. Yet there is little awareness that more than one-third of veterans nationwide have a disability, and their needs in the workplace may be quite different than those of their nondisabled colleagues. Our research confirms that a gap exists between the support disabled veterans identify they need as employees and the benefits and services that are offered and used in the workplace,” said Jessica Tuman, head of Voya Cares Center of Excellence at Voya Financial. “By addressing these challenges, employers have an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the financial health and overall career path of their employees who are disabled veterans, while better recruiting, hiring and retaining this valuable workforce.”

The researchers asked disabled veterans and employers about benefits, programs and services identified with disabled veterans’ needs in mind. Disabled veterans are most interested in receiving help from their employers to maximize their benefits from all sources, both from employers and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). While most employers are interested in offering specific workplace benefits to support disabled veteran employees, few currently offer each of the benefits cited through the research. As a result, more than half of veterans with disabilities believe the following benefits to be particularly helpful:

  • Help to maximize dollars spent across VA benefits and employer benefits, such as retirement plans, health savings accounts (HSAs), healthcare insurance, and other voluntary benefits (66%)
  • A workplace emergency savings fund to put money aside through payroll deduction (61%)
  • Support and resources to help make the transition from military service to civilian jobs (58%)
  • Help estimating income needs in retirement, including future health care costs, as well as personalized advice services and financial planning for retirement (57%)
  • Expanded health insurance coverage for mental illness (56%)

“The transition from military service to civilian life can present complexities and difficulties, particularly for those who have service-connected disabilities,” said Kendra Davenport, president and CEO of Easterseals. “Veterans develop valuable skills during their military service, skills that are valued by employers, but it is not always clear to employers how those skills translate into the civilian workforce. Caregivers provide critical support to our veterans, and they also experience some of the same career challenges and financial insecurity that veterans face. Every day, Easterseals engages local organizations and communities to connect veterans and military families with what they need for meaningful employment, education and overall wellness. That’s why we conducted this study to identify the challenges disabled veterans and their caregivers face, so we can work together to help improve the lives of those who bravely served our country.”

Veterans develop valuable skills during their military service, skills that are valued by employers, but it is not always clear to employers how those skills translate into the civilian workforce...

Underscoring the extent of their challenges, veterans with disabilities rated their satisfaction with key social determinants of health significantly lower than the satisfaction level of nondisabled veterans, including opportunities for professional growth (57% vs. 66%), recreation (64% vs. 76%) and connections with friends and the community (64% vs 72%).

In addition, caregivers of disabled veterans are facing more extreme challenges that are not being addressed by their employers. While 6.5 million adults are unpaid caregivers for veterans in America1, 86% say caregiving has impacted their work or education.

Through this research collaboration, Voya Cares and Easterseals aim to drive not only awareness and understanding but also action around what it means to support veterans with disabilities and their caregivers. Many nonprofit organizations, including Easterseals, offer services and support specifically designed to respond to many of the needs cited by veterans and caregivers in the research. Through collaboration with local community-based nonprofits, corporations can access such services and support for veterans and caregivers they employ.

The results of the research are based on a national survey conducted by Edge Research of veterans with and without disabilities, caregivers of veterans and their employers. The full research paper, with expanded findings, is available at easterseals.com/mediaroom and voyacares.com/disabledvets.

 

 

 

1. “Caregivers of Veterans Spend $11,500 on Average Each Year on Expenses, New Data Shows,” Military.com, and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Health Research, Caregivers and Family Support.
Methodology
Voya Cares®, in collaboration with Easterseals, commissioned Edge Research to conduct a national survey among disabled veterans (n=728) and nondisabled veterans (n=301), caregivers of disabled veterans (n=305), and employers (N=511). Edge Research fielded the survey from December 2023 to January 2024. To learn more about these audiences, 24 qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted virtually in January and February 2024. Interviews included eight representatives from each audience, including veterans with disabilities, caregivers and employers.
About Voya Financial®
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), is a leading health, wealth and investment company with approximately 9,000 employees who are focused on achieving Voya’s aspirational vision: Clearing your path to financial confidence and a more fulfilling life. Through products, solutions and technologies, Voya helps its 15.2 million individual, workplace and institutional clients become well planned, well invested and well protected. Benefitfocus, a Voya company and a leading benefits administration provider, extends the reach of Voya’s workplace benefits and savings offerings by engaging directly with over 12 million employees in the U.S. Certified as a “Great Place to Work” by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is purpose-driven and committed to conducting business in a way that is economically, ethically, socially and environmentally responsible. Voya has earned recognition as: one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® by Ethisphere; a member of the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index; and a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” on the Disability Equality Index. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
About Voya Cares®
As an extension of Voya’s mission to make a secure financial future possible, the Voya Cares program is committed to making a positive difference in the lives of people with disabilities and special needs from birth through aging, by providing advocacy, resources and solutions. Visit voyacares.com to learn more.
About Easterseals
Easterseals is leading the way to full equity, inclusion, and access through life-changing disability and community services. For more than 100 years, we have worked tirelessly with our partners to enhance quality of life and expand local access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. And we won’t rest until every one of us is valued, respected, and accepted. Through our national network of Affiliates, Easterseals provides essential services and on-the-ground supports to more than 1.5 million people each year — from early childhood programs for the critical first five years, to autism services, medical rehabilitation and employment programs, Veterans’ services, and more. Our public education, policy, and advocacy initiatives positively shape perceptions and address the urgent and evolving needs of the one in four Americans living with disabilities today. Together, we’re empowering people with disabilities, families, and communities to be full and equal participants in society. Learn more at easterseals.com.