Hiring Initiatives for Returning Veterans | DCR Workforce Blog

Hiring Initiatives for Returning Veterans

Organizations across America are being exhorted to provide career opportunities for the million plus war veterans who will be heading home over the next 3 years. The call has already been answered by companies like Walt Disney and GE and other organizations across America.

Research surveys show clear indications that the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan find the transition difficult with war-related trauma and stress disorders coupled with the current crises on the economic, housing and employment fronts. To offset this, employers who hire unemployed veterans are provided tax credits of $2400 all the way to $9600, depending on the hire. Employers with existing tax credits will also get enhancements if they hire veterans who were disabled in service.

In spite of such initiatives, over 10 million veterans are still seeking elusive jobs, as is evident from the data below, taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Table A-5. Employment status of the civilian population 18 years and over by veteran status, period of service, and sex, not seasonally adjusted

[numbers in thousands]

Employment status, veteran status, veteran status, and period of service

Total

Feb-12

Feb-12

VETERANS, 18 years and over
Civilian noninstitutional population

21,763

21,315

Civilian Labor Force

11,427

11,101

Participation rate

52.5

52.1

Employed

10,376

10,324

Employment-population ratio

47.7

48.4

Unemployed

1,051

777

Unemployment rate

9.2

7

Not in labor force

10,336

10,214

Source: http://www.bls.gov

 

Having more veterans returning home to civilian life where they find jobs hard to come by is a situation that calls for strategic planning and quick resolution. It also requires a lot of support from corporate America of the sort offered by Walt Disney and GE who are committed to provide veterans with job-oriented re-training and employment, packaged together.

It is a Win-Win:

These veterans are young at 18 – 42 years; they bring disciplined approach, safety-consciousness and an ability to work in any shift in a day. They are technically adept and implicitly follow orders with willingness. They work well in teams, assume responsibility, and demonstrate leadership. They are scrupulously punctual and display other qualities valued in a work environment. But they may also have disabilities acquired in the line of duty along with psychological trauma and stress-related conditions. It is time to respect their sacrifices and recompense them in a reasonable manner.

Interested employers and HR managers could adopt these approaches to make a difference and be a part of the hiring initiative. Finding the right fit for a veteran is possible, if one evaluates and understands what constitutes military skill sets and abilities and matches them with the requirements of the role. It may not always be easy to draw a parallel between the skills and experience imparted while in the military, but it is also not a complete impossibility. While positions like transport, security, marine or aviation are an obvious fit, some employers need assistance in identifying suitable roles for veterans.

Guidance for Employers:

The regulatory authorities will not allow any employer to discriminate against a veteran. Employers need to be aware of the regulatory requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, recent veteran-related guidelines from ADA and the proposed leave under FMLA for the family of veterans, to avoid violations and help the veterans to transition smoothly to civil life and work:

  • The disabilities of veterans are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discriminating against qualified individuals on account of disability. ADA stipulates reasonable accommodation – which can either be sought by the employee, or offered by the employer for by the employer’s initiative in case of obvious disabilities. If the veteran is in a position to perform the essential duties of a job, by virtue of education, training, experience or skills – with or without reasonable accommodation – the employment cannot be denied.
  • USERRA prohibits discrimination against applicants or employees on the basis of their military status or military obligations. It provides re-employment rights to a person who relinquished a civilian job to don the uniform. The size of the employer is of no significance in applying USERRA which mandates reemployment even in the absence of a vacancy. It requires the employer to provide the necessary training to upgrade the employee’s skills to suit the requirement. It also mandates admission to an equivalent position commensurate with the hypothetical experience in the civilian job as if the person had never left, and protects seniority, status, pay and benefits.
  • The amendments to the FMLA lay down guidance on granting military family leave for exigencies and military caregiver leave under the FMLA to the family of veterans, which needs to be heeded by employers, once approved.

The initiative to find employment for returning veterans will succeed with effective collaboration between non-profits, government initiatives and employers. As Senator Dan Lipinski said, “On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.”


Disclaimer:
The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.