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What is a Protected Veteran?

When it comes to official status, there are actually a few different kinds of designations for veterans. These designations will have an effect on the programs you are entitled to, as well as what protections you have under the law. There are a variety of different kinds of designations and even subcategories within major categories of classification. While at first, it seems incredibly confusing, it really isn’t.

One such designation is what is called Protected Veteran Status. Within this category, there are actually a number of different subcategories for protected veterans. This is probably the most common umbrella term of special designations for veterans and is the focus of this piece.

We will briefly touch on the different definitions for the various categories of protected veteran, as well as discuss what this special designation means in terms of the law, benefits, protections, and so on. There are a lot more details to these designations than we can tackle in a short article, so be sure to contact your local VA office if you have any specific or more pointed questions not answered here.

The first class of protected veteran is a Veteran of the Vietnam Era. As the name of the designation implies, this refers to veterans that were part of the air, ground, or naval forces serving in the Vietnam War anytime between 1961 and May of 1975.

Next, is what is called a Special Disabled Veteran designation. This refers to veterans who served in the US armed forces at sea, on land, or in the air. It refers to veterans who were released or discharged from the military as a result of a disability obtained during the course of their service.

This is also the designation of a veteran who would qualify for disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but this generally only refers to veterans who have a disability score of 30% or more, something which is also determined by the VA.

What is a Protected Veteran

Next, we have Disabled Veteran Status. This too, of course, applies to any member of the armed forces that served on land, sea, or in the air. This status refers to veterans who are entitled to disability compensation and was discharged or released from an active duty role as a result of their disability.

Another protected veteran category is Recently Separated Veteran status. This is a designation that applies to federal contractors or subcontractors which were entered in before 2003. More specifically, this refers to a veteran who served in the US military as a contractor during the year between release and discharge from service. It also applies to veterans who served on active duty during a three-year period between discharge and release from duty.

There is also what is called an Armed Forces Service Medal Veteran status. This refers to veterans who participated in operations for which the Armed Forces were awarded a service medal as a result of Executive Order 12985.

Finally, we have what is called Other Protected Veteran status. This designation refers to any other veteran who served in active duty as a part of ground, sea, or air forces during an operation for which a campaign badge honor was given to the personnel.

This special designation gives you, a veteran, certain protection under the law that you would not otherwise have. Many of these protections apply to employment law, which has, unfortunately, seen a lot of veterans as victims of discrimination.

As a member of this protected class, you cannot be denied employment, terminated, harassed, demoted, paid less, or treated less than any other group of people due to being a disabled or a protected veteran. It is unfortunate that we have the need for such law and designation, but the number of people who have experienced discrimination, or had difficulty finding a job due to their status, is not something that could continue to be ignored.

It may come as a surprise that these special designations are actually fairly new. In fact, it wasn’t until 2015 that some protected statuses were even categorized. In 2015, a new designation of Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VERAA) was signed into law.

This additional measure to help protect and ensure the welfare of people in this protected class. There is now a sort of affirmative action style process required for federal contractors and subcontractors. This basically helps to not only reduce the amount of discrimination that these veterans in particular face, but also to promote the increased hiring of this portion of the veteran population.

It is thought that veterans who would be protected under this act account for a little over 7% of the veteran population of this country, meaning it affects a significant, but certainly not a majority of veterans.

All of these designations seek to provide protections for veterans of various stripes from discrimination in the workplace and beyond. While it would be nice if there was no workplace discrimination of veterans, unfortunately, it does exist. In fact, veterans are one of the populations that suffer the highest rates of unemployment and poverty, which is hard to imagine considering all they have sacrificed for their country.

These protections, including the VERAA, are designed to help ensure that veterans of a variety of protected classes have just as good of a chance of obtaining quality employment as anyone else and the laws give veterans legal recourse in the event that these rights and designations are not respected. Declaring these more vulnerable populations as protected gives them legal recourse for violations of said protected status and will likely make it far easier for veterans to reintegrate and live well within our society.

It helps to be familiar with the intricacies of the law, the designations, and what all these things mean, tangibly, in your life. Knowing that you are part of a protected class of veterans gives you certain protections in the workplace and beyond, helping to ensure that our veterans are treated fairly, with the dignity they deserve, and with a means for legal recourse in the event that these things are violated.

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