What is a Protected Veteran?

Think back to the most recent job application you filled out. You listed your work history and experience, maybe provided the names and numbers of some references – then, you reach the last page of the application, and it asks you, “Are you a Protected Veteran?”

what is protected veteran

If you answered “Yes,” to that question, thank you so much for your service to our country! Though chances are, if you’re reading this post, you’ve answered “No,” to that question in the past. So you may wonder, what exactly is a “protected veteran,” and why do we see it on many job applications today?

Where it All Began

Back in 1974, The Vietnam Era Veteran’s Readjustment Act passed into law. This act, VEVRAA, outlined the definition of a protected veteran, what the laws were surrounding protected veterans, and who would enforce those laws.

Essentially, VEVRAA made it illegal to discriminate against veterans, much like it’s illegal to discriminate against minorities and other protected classes. However, it does not apply to all sectors, only to corporations and other companies that work on a contract basis with the federal government.

The Definition

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), there several criteria that allow an individual to be considered a protected veteran. It all boils down to four key factors: disabled veteran status, recently separated veteran status, Armed Forces Service Medal veteran status, and other veteran status, which usually pertains to campaign badges. You can find the official definitions of each criterion here, on the DOL site, but here’s the basic version of each one:

Disabled Veteran

While it may seem self-explanatory, this is a crucial part of VEVRAA. A disabled veteran is defined as an individual who has served active duty in any branch of the U.S. military and qualifies for disability compensation. It also includes those who were released or discharged from their active duty tour early due to any disability sustained during that tour.

Recently Separated Veteran

The “Recently Separated” clause protects individuals who have left the military within the last three years. The timeframe is calculated based on their official discharge or release date.

Armed Forces Service Medal Veteran

If an individual on active duty was involved in a military operation that received an Armed Forces Service Medal, they are considered a protected veteran indefinitely.

Other Protected Veterans

Other protected veterans include those who have served in any branch of the U.S. military and completed an active duty tour during a campaign or war that was authorized by the Department of Defense.

So – What Comes with Being a Protected Veteran?

Protected veteran status

Any company or corporation that works with the federal government is required to comply with VEVRAA regulations fully. This means that they must adhere to the non-discrimination policies when it comes to job listings and offers, accommodations for hired protected veterans, and ongoing support. Basically, if you were a protected veteran, you would be protected from any discrimination solely based on your military background and service.

These companies are also required to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled veterans so that they can continue to work. But what kind of “reasonable accommodations” are included?

Some veterans may have a vision disability, so their employer would be required to provide audiotapes, Braille, or large print to accommodate that need. Others may have a hearing disability, so their employer is required to provide sign language interpretation or written transcripts. The employer may also be required to adjust the work schedule of their hired protected veteran to accommodate doctor’s appointments and therapies, or transportation needs.

There are several reasonable accommodations that a protected veteran is entitled to, and you can find plenty more examples on the DOL website!

Am I a Protected Veteran?

If you’re questioning whether you’re a protected veteran or not, the Department of Labor has a handy questionnaire to make it easier to determine your protected veteran status. You can check it out here.

While several criteria could help you qualify for protected veteran status, here are a few examples:

  • Were you released or discharged from active duty service due to a disability or injury you sustained during your service?
  • Did you participate in an active duty tour, campaign, or expedition for which you received an Armed Forces Service Medal or campaign badge, authorized by the Department of Defense?
  • Did you serve on active duty in any branch of the military?

If you answered “Yes,” to any of these questions, know your rights as a protected veteran! And if you are not a protected veteran, please, do what you can to support our brave heroes as they transition into civilian life.

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