Legislative protections for our nation’s veterans are incomplete and ineffective, making a population already at increased risk of depression and suicide vulnerable to bias, harassment, and discrimination in employment, housing, education, and hate crimes at a disproportionate rate compared to other protected classes.
- The Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment & Assistance Act (VEVRAA) & Uniformed Services Employment & Employment Rights Act (USERRA) are limited to employment in the public sector and government contracting.
- Veterans receive no protections if they are employed by private businesses doing little or no business with the federal government.
- Enforceability of VEVRAA is difficult because employers can easily satisfy formal compliance requirements by displaying efforts at token “outreach and positive recruitment activities” shown to be ineffective.
- Protection of veterans and their family members under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 is restricted to 5 years after discharge.
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not extend protection based on veteran status.
- The Housing and Urban Development office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity does not extend protection based on veteran status.
Congress Can Fix This
Veterans need and deserve affirmative statutory protection on par with those that cover other protected classes such as race, color, religion, family status, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information. Congress can fix this by 1) standing up federal protections for veterans comparable to those extended to other suspect classifications, 2) improving those already enshrined in law, and 3) strengthening enforcement mechanisms across the board.