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Tactical Veteran: 'Military-friendly' companies can still lay off veterans

Sep. 9, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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It is no secret that military-friendly companies are making a huge push these days to hire veterans. However, some of these same companies — seen at job fairs and advertising everywhere that they are looking to hire former troops — are still laying off veterans.

Two veterans with whom I work as an employment counselor serve as reminders that in an instant you can find yourself unemployed. One veteran is a captain in the reserves who was working full time for a well-known bank when he was called to his second deployment in Afghanistan. While deployed, he received a notice that he was being switched from one bank location to another. Figuring it wasn’t a big deal, the captain assumed he’d learn the reason for the move once he got home. Unfortunately, by the time his deployment ended, the location to which he was transferred had closed, and he was asked to accept a severance package.

If this has happened to you — or you’re worried that it could — remember that all branches of the active military, including the reserve components during federal training or service in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard, are covered under the Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act. If you suspect your rights have been violated, start with these steps:

Make sure you have a valid USERRA violation. Check out the FAQ and other information at www.esgr.mil/USERRA/USER RA-for-Service-Members.aspx.

If you believe your rights being violated, or even if you’re unsure, contact Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve at 800-336-4590.

You can also file a complaint to the Veterans Employment and Training Service by filing a form 1010. Get it at www.dol.gov/elaws/vets/userra/1010.asp or by calling 866-4-USA-DOL.

Also be sure to check out the Pre and De-mobilization Employer Support Checklist at www.esgr.mil/Service-Members-Family/Deployment-Tips-and-Checklist.

But even veterans who have been out of the military for years can find themselves vulnerable to layoffs — and they’re not protected under USERRA. A Vietnam veteran with whom I’ve worked, once a director for a well-known hospital that promotes its hiring of veterans, now finds himself at the unemployment office. He believes it was his age and high salary that got him laid off. He’s not giving up, though, and hopes to get his old job back by reminding the company that it promotes itself as being military-friendly.

Do I have the whole story of why these two veterans were laid off? Maybe not. Sometimes veterans are laid off for understandable reasons. But are veterans and service members still being discriminated against because they serve part time in uniform, have a disability, or are older and more experienced? Absolutely.

Separating from the military today can be stressful enough for any of you, but hearing these kinds of stories from your fellow veterans can make you question whether companies are serious about employing veterans. You could indeed be faced with the same situation, though as a tactical veteran you will be prepared for bumps in the road with backup plans, just like you were in the military.

Do you have a similar story of serving in uniform and being laid off from your full time civilian job? Tactical Veteran wants to hear from you: tacticalveteran@militarytimes.com.

Steven Maieli is the founder of TransitioningVeteran.com, which highlights links to federal, state, for-profit and nonprofit veterans benefits and other resources. He also writes a blog on transitioning veterans’ issues at www.transitioningveteran.com/wordpress. Send questions and comments to tacticalveteran@militarytimes.com.

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