By Debbie Gregory.
In March, 2015, changes are in store for the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA).
VEVRAA requires contractors and subcontractors, who wish to do business with the federal government, to employ and advance specified categories of Veterans protected by the act, and prohibits discrimination against such Veterans. The legislation also requires contractors and subcontractors to list their employment openings with the appropriate employment service delivery system, granting covered Veterans priority in referral to these openings.
The upcoming changes expand the definition of “covered” Veterans to include Disabled Veterans, Veterans who served on active duty during a time of war, Veterans who received a campaign medal, expedition badge, or service medal, and any recently separated Veterans. The upcoming new mandate will be enforceable as part of a company’s 2015 Affirmative Action plan and is intended to establish a Veteran employment standard that is more in line with the national Veteran population.
Up until recently, the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 era Veterans was approximately 10%. While consistently lower over the last several months, Veterans of this generation have faced an unemployment rate that is significantly higher than their non-Veteran peers. For January 2015, the Gulf War II-era Veterans saw a 7.9% unemployment rate, while non-Veterans of the same age saw a rate of just 6%, according to the most recent data offered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The DOL also found that once employed, Veterans make significantly less than their non-Veteran co-workers. The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found that overall, male Veterans earn 2.7% less than non-Veterans, and female Veterans earn 6.3% less than non-Veterans. Also, male Vietnam Veterans earn 6.9% less than non-Veterans, and male Gulf War II Veterans earn 1.4% less.
What is different today is that there aren’t as many Veterans in the executive level and hiring-level positions as there were in previous years. After World War II, there were many WWI and WWII Veterans hiring fellow Vets. These Veterans went on to hire Korean War and Vietnam War Veterans. The “greatest generation” and their Veteran hires all held executive positions through most of the 80’s and into the 90’s. And the economy was good enough to provide for Veterans until the mid-2000’s.
And now, since there are fewer Veterans doing the hiring, there is a disconnect between employers and Veterans who are looking for civilian jobs.
Essentially, this new VEVRAA mandate is intended to force businesses to hire more “covered” Veterans if they want to vie for federal government contracts. This will be accomplished by broadening the program’s eligibility for Veterans and designating them as a protected class.
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Military Connection: New Mandate Makes Veterans “Protected Class” By Debbie Gregory