If all went according to plan, military reservists who go to war would have their stateside jobs waiting for them when they returned. However, in the real world, 23 percent of veteran jobs are gone when reservists return, per a report by CNN.com. And many servicemen say the U.S. government is not helping those who are denied their old jobs when they return from Iraq. In short, Iraq veteran job opportunities have become the new casualties of war.
This info is part of a Defense Department survey of military reservists in 2005-2006. In the report, 44 percent were dissatisfied with how the Labor Department handled complaints of discrimination in veteran jobs, 29 percent had problems getting info from government agencies and 77 percent didn’t try to get government help because they didn’t think it would make a difference. Is this "supporting the troops?" What can be done differently?
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Military Veteran Jobs, The Law Says…
According to U.S. law, military personnel are protected from job discrimination and “generally” (that’s the legal wiggle word) entitled to a five-year cumulative leave with rights to their old jobs upon their return. If they can’t get their job back, veterans can file a complaint with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve at the Pentagon. If that fails, a veteran can go to the Labor Department to pursue a formal complaint and possible litigation by the Justice Department.
Veteran Job Finder
Sounds good in theory, right? But Sam Wright, a former Labor Department attorney, told CNN.com: “Most of the government investigators are too willing to accept the employer’s explanation for a worker’s dismissal… the investigators establish for themselves this impossibly hard standard to win a case. As a result, reservists lose out.” Here is the standard, the business has come right out and say, “We are not hiring you back because of your military leave.” But how likely is that confession going to happen?
Veteran Job Assistance?
Mr. Wright is not alone in his findings. The American Bar Association reported in 2004 that the U.S. government was “not seen as an aggressive advocate for the returning veteran.” Earlier this year, former Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson led a presidential task force that reported how government agencies could do a better job of educating veterans.
Veteran Job Search, Per the Pentagon
For it’s part, the Pentagon told CNN.com: “We carefully consider information our members provide, and we actively work to develop solutions where needed.” The Labor Department says that it has been working to better educate troops about their rights. However, Senator Edward Kennedy said he plans legislation to hold government agencies accountable by requiring them to collect and release employment data.
Wanted: Veteran Jobs with Military Friendly Employers
In his tribute song to Vietnam Vets, Born in the USA, Bruce Springsteen sang about servicemen not finding work upon their return: “Went down to the refinery/Hiring man said ‘Son, if it was up to me’/Went down to see my VA man/He said ‘Son, don’t you understand?’ ” It appears that history is repeating itself. Future generations take note, this tune may be playing again.
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Dr. Al Lee