August 16, 2013
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, GE and many others.
Research shows clear indications that the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan find the transition to civilian careers difficult 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 up to $9600. 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.
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 commitment from corporate America 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 a 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. It is time to respect their sacrifices and recompense them in a reasonable manner.
Interested employers and HR managers will benefit from being a part of this hiring initiative. At a time when the nation is facing a severe shortage of professionals with STEM skills or medical training, many veterans have developed these skills through their military experience. 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. While positions like transport, security, marine or aviation are an obvious fit, some employers need assistance in identifying suitable roles for veterans. Staffing agencies can contribute to this effort,
Guidance for Employers:
To avoid regulatory violations and help veterans to transition smoothly to civilian life and work, employers need to be aware of the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), recent veteran-related guidelines from ADA and the proposed leave under FMLA for the family of veterans,:
- The disabilities of veterans are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 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 in cases 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 re-employment even in the absence of a vacancy. If the prior position is not available, the employer must provide the necessary training to upgrade the veteran’s skills to suit the requirement. It also mandates admission to an equivalent position commensurate with the position the veteran would potentially have held if the person had never left, and protects seniority, status, pay and benefits.
- The amendments to the FMLA establish guidance on granting military family leave for exigencies and military caregiver leave the family of veterans.
Efforts 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.”
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.