Saturday, February 09, 2008

Veterans - the unprotected "class" in America

Ray Robison has noted a very disturbing AP article by Hope Yen on the trend of employment discrimination when hiring returning veterans.

Excerpt graphs from the AP article that stand out:

The report blamed the poor prospects partly on inadequate job networks and lack of mentors after extended periods in war. The study said employers often had misplaced stereotypes about veterans' fitness for employment, such as concerns they did not have adequate technological skills, or were too rigid, lacked education or were at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder.


"The issue of mental health has turned into a double-edged sword for returning veterans. More publicity has generated more public awareness and federal funding for those who return home different from when they left. However, more publicity — especially stories that perpetuate the 'Wacko Vet' myth — has also made some employers more cautious to hire a veteran," said Joe Davis, spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Robison has rightly called a spade a spade, laying much of the blame on the anti-war hysteria propagated by the media. Or, as he tersely lays it out:

Thanks New York Times. Way to screw our heroes.....

Can't agree more. The press has largely been responsible in creating and nurturing the current trend of an unappreciation for our military protectors.

But bypassing their irresponsible quest for headlines, ratings and agenda, what is being done to right this obvious wrong? And by whom?

"The military has worked on assisting service members in completing and translating their skills to match equivalent civilian job descriptions; however, training for marketability may require much more preparation than having the ability to improve a resume," the VA study said.

"The federal government may need to reevaluate how it serves the needs of returning service members," it said.

Charles Ciccolella, the Labor Department's assistant secretary for veterans' employment and training, said the department provides a wide variety of services to veterans seeking jobs, including workshops that focus on resume writing and interview skills. Staff also are educating reservists about their job rights as well as seeking to connect veterans to new jobs, he said.

"The Department of Labor is constantly working to better assist transitioning service members and veterans as they enter or re-enter the civilian work force," Ciccolella said.

Okay... I'm confused. Instead of going to bat for the veterans, they are busy complying with paranoid, anti-military employers, refusing to hire veterans who they "believe are at risk" for post traumatic stress syndrome.

Translation? These warriors are diagnosed - by employers, not doctors - with a "mental disability" or a possible future one. And based on that absurd diagnosis, they refuse to hire the veteran.

Just how far can this mentality go if left unchecked? Can an employer then refuse to hire someone they believe may contract a terminal disease in the future? Think the unpopular class of smokers. No one will support their legal rights. But then, think women with genetic DNA make up that is conducive to breast cancer. Or perhaps refuse an applicant because they ride a motorcycle, and may be severely injured in an accident.

It's inconceivable how many "classes" of citizens seeking work may be included in this "but, but they are at risk!" mentality.

Instead of various organizations and government entities spending resources retraining veterans, why are they cow towing to what may just constitute illegal discrimation. Just where is the ACLU or other "compassionate" rights circles investigating the legality of wanton employer discrimination against a perceived potential of mental disability? Perhaps too busy trying to get stateless jihad fighters, picked up off of foreign battlefields, their day in the US court system.

Equal Employment Act protects "special" classes of American citizens against just such discrimination. However the usual mantra of "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin" magically leaves out discrimination against military "at risk" of a future mental disorder.

So we turn to the American Disability Act instead. And in here is where, I believe (tho I am no lawyer) veteran employment discrimination may find recourse.

According to the DOJ brochure,
"A Guide to Disability Rights":

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered

ADA Title I: Employment

Title I requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. For example, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant’s disability before a job offer is made, and it requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship. Religious entities with 15 or more employees are covered under title I.

Those words, "prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring..." and "undue hardship" can go a long way in protecting veterans. If already skilled and qualified, veterans do not need retraining.

Instead, those in need of retraining are the media, and the citizens of this country.

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