A whole-health focus to support military veteran and service member mental health
I was recently honored to speak on the mental health of veterans in the workplace during the final meeting of the Leidos Collaborative Action Group. I am pleased that so many of the more than 80 Action Group members have identified veteran mental health as a priority for their own employees.
As I prepared my remarks for that session, I reflected on what Veterans Day means to me. Veterans Day is a day to honor those who’ve served our country, to whom we owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude. It’s a day for us to pause and recognize the tremendous sacrifice of so many who work tirelessly to secure our freedom.
I thought of my own experience as the spouse of an active-duty military service member—from the separation we endured during periods of deployment 20 years ago to my husband’s deployment in the spring of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a grinding halt. For thousands of military families—including mine—the uncertainty of those early days of a pandemic were compounded by uncertainty of how long a family’s separation would last.
At Leidos, we are proud of our incredibly skilled and dynamic workforce, which includes a large veteran population. We also recognize that many of our employees have active military spouses or other family members, and that as a result, these employees face specific stressors that many others do not. Creating a sense of community can help provide a support network and address the isolation often felt by these employees.
It’s only natural that our past influences how we process and respond to the challenges we face today. Because of my own experience, I am acutely aware of the pressures these families often face. Gaining a deeper understanding of these families’ journeys helps us advance the ways in which we support them, both during and after their service member’s active duty.
When we consider the needs of veterans, we must consider the whole person, including the stressors that have impacted their families, and acknowledge that their experiences with stress and/or trauma continue to affect them even after they have transitioned to civilian life.
Leidos has embarked on a long-term journey through our Mission for the Mind strategy, in which we have dedicated ourselves to prioritizing mental health to the same degree as physical health. I shared with the Action Group some of the ways our Health Group has leveraged our knowledge and experience to anticipate and provide resources to families of veteran employees and active-duty military.
We are working hard to destigmatize accessing mental health resources and want to ensure that all our employees have the flexibility to take care of themselves using a holistic, “whole person” health approach.
We know from our own lived experiences as veterans and/or family members of veterans that the holistic approach will continue to evolve along with the challenges and opportunities. Along with our evidence-based insight and expertise, we aim to be a part of the solution for our employees, their families, and the communities we serve.
As we express our deep appreciation to our military service members, we’d be remiss not to also thank their families, whose moral and logistical support makes it possible for active military to do what they do. As the saying goes, freedom isn’t free.