Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge CenterSupporting Veterans Returning to Work

Supporting Veterans Returning to Work

Employers play an important role in making it possible for their employees to serve our country in times of need. They can also play an important role in helping those employees return to work after military deployment. The following information may be helpful in supporting a smooth re-entry into the workplace.

What are challenges veterans may face?

Military veterans returning from a war zone may have many sources of stress. They must adjust to family life and civilian routines. In addition, they often face hurdles when they return to their old jobs. Some of these include:

  • Seeing coworkers advance in their careers while their own career has been on hold.
  • Feeling less important or needed.
  • Civilian jobs may be less stimulating or motivating after the intensity of active duty in a war zone.
  • Those who didn’t see much action may find the return to a hurried, less structured civilian life too stimulating.
  • Coworkers may be resentful that the person was gone for so long. They may be upset that the veteran is now getting their old job back. Coworkers may need time to adjust.
  • It may be hard for the veteran to manage anger or irritability. They may resent authority. This can lead to conflicts with coworkers or management.
  • Falling back on “battlefield skills” that are not useful in civilian life and work. For example:
    • Being on constant alert for danger
    • Not trusting people
    • Making quick decisions on one’s own
    • Expecting others to obey without question
    • Sticking to a “mission” no matter what
    • Reacting quickly and asking questions later
    • Keeping one’s emotions sealed off

How can a manager help?

Successfully reintegrating into a civilian job may depend on how proactive and supportive a manager is throughout the process. The following tips may be helpful for a manager of a returning service member.

Be Prepared

  • Talk to coworkers beforehand about the transition and what to expect. Offer concrete examples of how they might support the returning service member. Encourage employees to come to you with concerns.
  • Be aware that the veteran may ask for accommodations. These may be extensive due to disability or more modest, such as structuring tasks or modifying schedules. Check with your human resources department regarding your company policy.

Be Welcoming

  • Check with the returning employee before making plans. It may be a thoughtful gesture to welcome them back with a small reception. It offers a chance to acknowledge their service and let them know you are glad they’re back. Make introductions to any new employees. Be aware that some veterans may want to discuss their experience, some may not.
  • Some workplaces send a card of appreciation to a service member’s family.

Be Proactive

  • Meet one-on-one with the service member before they begin their duties. Review changes that occurred in their absence and how their job or role might be affected. Ask about the service member’s needs and expectations. Discuss training needs.
  • Talk about how any new skills might be put to use.
  • Recognize that the service member may still have mandatory military responsibilities.
  • Control rumors and quickly address any signs of conflict before negative behaviors can take root.
  • Schedule regular meetings for a while. Ask specific questions about how the transition is going.

Be Understanding

  • Be aware that it can be hard reintegrating after deployment. Accept that returning to normal, or establishing a new normal, takes time. Expect good performance, but be patient.
  • As with any employee, one of your goals should be to help the returning service member build skills and confidence. Offer feedback in a positive way.
  • Don’t “walk on eggshells” or think of the service member as fragile in some way. Don’t make excuses for unacceptable behavior or ignore potential issues. Try to be direct, but supportive in your approach.

Be Aware

  • Notice how the service member and other employees are interacting. Be sensitive to any issues. Don’t respond by segregating the service member. Talk directly to any coworkers who seem to have resentment. Ask for their opinion on how to make the transition work well. Continue to make your expectations clear.
  • Be alert for signs that they’re having trouble. This might be performance issues, alcohol or drug abuse, emotional concerns, or pulling away from others. Be prepared to get the employee help if needed. A management consultation with your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help you decide how to go forward.

Finally, expect a positive outcome and share that with your employees, including the one returning. Setting expectations can have a major influence on the attitude and actions of coworkers. Recognize that for returning military personnel this may be a good opportunity to review their life goals. It can be a chance to fully focus on who they want to be. Expect, with everyone’s good efforts, the return will be a success.


Workplace Wellness


Reintegration Process after Returning from Deployment Self-Care Strategies after Returning from Military Deployment Managing Stress Kit

Back to Knowledge Center

This material is provided by Cigna HealthcareSM for informational/educational purposes only. It is not medical/clinical advice. Only a health care professional can make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment plan. For more information about your behavioral health coverage, you can call the customer service or the behavioral health telephone number listed on your health care identification card.

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna


Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

The Cigna Group Information

About Cigna Healthcare Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers The Cigna Group Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap Cookie Settings


Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details