Focus Group Approach

Gaining insight to employment challenges of veterans with disabilities
Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What are the unmet needs and service gaps for veterans and their families?

What do employers need to effectively hire, accommodate, promote and retain veterans with disabilities?

Through a Bob Woodruff Foundation grant awarded to ILR’s Hoch E. Tan and K. Lisa Yang Employment and Disability Institute, feedback will be solicited through veteran, family and employer focus groups.

The goal of the project is to better understand issues faced by veterans with disabilities who are transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce and community.

With fresh insight in hand, the Woodruff Foundation and the institute hope employers will be able to create a more welcoming and veteran-friendly workplace culture and service organizations that could provide more targeted and customized interventions.

Since 2006, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has invested more than $28 million in programs reaching more than two million injured service members, veterans and their families in three key areas: education and employment, rehabilitation and recovery, and quality of life.

The first series of focus groups kicks off in November. Next summer, the institute expects to complete recommendations for interventions and best practices for Woodruff Foundation staff and grantees, program participants, service providers and policymakers.

The grant expands the institute’s work in helping veterans with disabilities return to work. In the past year, it has connected veterans with disabilities to business mentors, providing guidance on translating military occupations to civilian careers and adjusting to a new disability and issues around disclosure.

The grant-funded project also taps the institute as a resource for more than 5,500 employers working to create supportive and welcoming workplace cultures for persons with disabilities, including veterans.

Institute relationships with employer groups such as the National Industry Liaison Group, the US Business Leadership Network, Direct Employers and the Society of Human Resource Management will be helpful in recruiting employer participants, according to Judy Young, assistant director of training and development at the Employment and Disability Institute.

Proposed locations for focus groups are New York City, San Diego and San Antonio -- cities near military installations and employers of veterans.

Focus group sessions will be three hours long and include 10 to 15 participants.

The Employment and Disability Institute’s project is among 28 programs through 26 organizations awarded grants this spring by the Woodruff Foundation. The grant projects are expected to impact 110,000 injured service members, veterans and their families in all 50 states.