There are visible wounds and then there are those that nobody sees: of those soldiers whose injuries are invisible, “psychic”, 80% want to leave the army and return to civilian life. On 1 October 2015, the French army had more than 500 psychic war-wounded on long term sick leave. Their number made it vital to do something, so in spring 2015 operation Ωmega was launched to help these fragile men and women return to a civilian, social and professional life.
Lt. Colonel Thierrry Maloux, head of the CABAT (the French acronym for the cell that helps the army wounded) explained that today 13 people are currently embedded in companies as diverse as Carrefour, Décathlon, Michelin, Thales and Aéroport de Paris, amongst others, and that two have already signed full-time contracts, one with Nexter, the other with Michelin. A third such contract will be signed within a few weeks. For Lt-Colonel Maloux Ωmega should give the war-wounded the tools to return to civilian life, seduce and bring on board an array of companies and finally lead to full-time employment contracts. “A soldier has qualities of resilience, audacity, endurance, team-work and loyalty which are all sought after by companies,” he explains. For the company the injured person, who qualifies as a handicapped worker, can also help it meet the mandatory 6% quota of handicapped people in its workforce.
These past few months have served to define a procedure that, by the end of the year, will have proven efficient enough to be transposed to a ministerial level backed up by a perennial group of companies.
So, how does it work?
After the injury has been diagnosed and treatment given, the wounded are evaluated by doctors and referees within the CABAT who help them identify their professional capabilities and write a CV.
Then the conversion pole of the CABAT makes contact with the DHR (department of human resources) of a company in which suitable positions have been identified, prior to a meeting between the potential candidates and the companies. After a trial period, an internship contract of a minimum one month and maximum one year is established for each of the wounded. During this whole period, the ex-soldier is protected by the defence code and the medical certificate of professional readaptation. The person also remains under military contract and is paid by the defence ministry. If the war-wounded needs help to finance expenses linked to the internship, for housing for example, then the Terre Fraternité charitable association will provide support.
In this photo, twice-wounded Alex, a former fuel truck driver, in whom the CABAT saw a future great pastry chef. His profile interested Chef Guy Martin who guided the young man’s first steps in his new profession. Today Alex has a place at the French Ferrandi school of gastronomy and plans to open a bakery in Bangkok where part of his family has its roots.