Atlanta Black Chambers addressing mental health, transition to corporate employment challenges for veterans

Veteran Entrepreneurs Group Leaders Nyala Allen and Nkosi Leary (Courtesy of Atlanta Black Chambers)

The 2023 Veterans Day weekend in Georgia began with an event in Atlanta meant to aid veterans with their mental health. The Atlanta Black Chambers‘ Veteran Entrepreneurs Group hosted its Mental Health is Wealth Conference.

Veterans took part in inspirational and interactive discussions to enhance their mental well-being. The Fulton County Behavioral Health Mobile Unit was also on hand to provide on-the-spot mental health counseling.

“We understand that this is not only vital for our veterans, but also their families, their friends,” said Nkosi Leary, the chairperson of the Veteran Entrepreneurs Group. “The support networks surrounding our veterans play a crucial role in their well-being.”

Leary spent nearly 27 years in the Marine Corps, and he says he thoroughly understands the issues, complaints and concerns veterans have about transitioning from military service to civilian life. He says not all service members experience the same challenges while serving their country.

“There are going to be different effects based on how long you served, and then, of course, whether or not you had combat experience, or whether your experience in the military was traumatic or not,” said Leary.

“And it’s not limited to wartime situations. We have women within the military that go through their things as well. We can’t hide the fact that there is sexual harassment and that our women service members are effected by that as well.”

Despite many companies touting the hiring of veterans, the transition into the civilian workforce can also have its hurdles.

“When you come out, you’re kind of like a fish out of water. When we leave the military, we don’t speak the same language as civilians do, especially corporate language,” said Leary. “Sometimes it’s very difficult to translate what we actually learned within the military into civilian terms that make us more desirable for positions in our corporate lives.”

In addition to addressing the mental health needs of local veterans, Leary says he’s working on a program to make the move into the workforce easier for veterans. He says the Veterans Entrepreneurs Group within the Atlanta Black Chambers is also always at work with helping veterans start their own businesses.