More companies are offering employee assistance programs (EAPs) than ever before. These programs provide resources to help employees promote healthy lifestyles, deal with performance issues and deal with challenges at work before they turn into more serious issues.

With the growing number of veterans in the workplace, many employers have EAPs in place that offer help to veterans, specifically to those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other mental health problems and reintegration issues. EAPs offer support to these veterans, helping to improve overall veteran productivity while reducing absenteeism and recurring tardiness, common issues for veterans dealing with PTSD.

Common red flags employers must understand

Not all veterans with PTSD or other mental health problems have problems on the job. However, it is possible for these issues to begin causing problems in the workplace, and it is important companies address these issues quickly. Employers need to understand the common red flags that may signal a problem and they must train managers and supervisors to recognize these red flags.

One common red flag is leaving work regularly or recurring tardiness. Increased absenteeism may also be a sign of a problem. Lowered performance, anxiety, withdrawal from others, angry outbursts and excessive tiredness can also be red flags. In some cases, substance abuse of alcohol abuse may become a problem, and the signs of the abuse may be seen on the job as well.

Benefits of EAPs for veterans with PTSD

The Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC) launched The Workplace Warrior Think Tank several years ago. This think tank advises employers to provide EAPs and mentoring programs for veterans to help them succeed within the workplace.

"One effective way that employers can assist veterans is by employing an employee assistance program to tackle the major health, work and family challenges resulting from a lengthy overseas assignment in a combat zone" said Carol Harnett, co-chair of The Workplace Warrior Think Tank.

Offering these programs to veterans with PTSD, mental health issues, or those needing assistance with reintegration offers many important benefits.

Veteran EAPs make it possible for employers to offer specialized care for those with PTSD. These programs also help promote better interactions between veterans and other employees, and they connect veterans with legal and financial services. They also offer peer support for veterans, as well as their families.

When these resources are made available to veterans in the workplace, many of the common problems, such as excessive tardiness, absenteeism, substance abuse and angry outbursts, are eliminated. Employers that use EAPs for veterans also note that veteran on-the-job productivity increases as well.

Top companies leading the way

Studies have shown that 42.4 percent of reserves and 20.3 percent of active soldiers need some type of mental health treatment after serving in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. The need for this treatment increases a few months after returning from deployments in these areas.

These numbers show an increasing need for EAPs that offer help to veterans dealing with these mental health issues, such as PTSD. Currently, several companies are standing up and leading the way, working with veterans to meet the needs that veterans have when dealing with PTSD.

Companies like Home Depot, United Parcel Service and PepsiCo are leading the way, hiring more veterans and ensuring they have the support and resources they need to be successful on the job. While these companies are using EAPs to help veterans cope with PTSD, employers are also beginning to create veteran affinity groups to allow veterans to meet informally to talk about the challenges they are experiencing as they reintegrate into civilian life.

Some companies, such as CSX Transportation even have veterans' affairs offices in place, while others focus on hiring human resource managers that have experience in the military. As more veterans return home, more companies will need to begin offering veteran EAPs that support veterans with PTSD, physical disabilities and other problems that our heroes face when they arrive home from war.