protected veteran status

How Protected Veteran Status Helps Disabled Vets in the Workplace

When most people hear the phrase “affirmative action,” they don’t necessarily think about veterans — but they should. One such law requires employers doing business with the federal government to recruit, hire and promote any qualified protected veteran.

Are you a protected veteran? If so, you should know about this law and how it can benefit you. Learn how it works below.

Benefits for Veterans Established Under the Federal VEVRAA Law

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974’s affirmative action provisions. Often, people simply refer to this law as “VEVRAA.” In addition to making it easier for veterans to find jobs, this law also makes discrimination against any protected veteran illegal for companies that do business with the federal government. VEVRAA covers companies making employment decisions on:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Pay
  • Benefits
  • Job assignments
  • Promotions
  • Layoffs
  • Training
  • Other employment-related activities

Related: Veterans Benefits Stopped for 4,000+ Vets on Accident

Who Has Protected Veteran Status Under This Law?

If one of these categories describes you, then you’re a protected veteran under the VEVRAA law:

  • Disabled Veteran: You completed active military duty and are now entitled to VA disability compensation. Or, your discharge or release from active duty resulted from a service-connected disability.
  • Other Protected Veteran: You served in the military during wartime, or received a badge for serving in a Department of Defense-authorized military campaign or expedition.
  • Recently Separated Veteran: You’re released from active military duty or separated from service during the three-year period beginning on the date of discharge.
  • Armed Forces Service Medal Veteran: You participated in a U.S. military operation that received an Armed Forces service medal while on active duty.

Are You a Protected Veteran?

Protected Veteran status means that you completed active service in the U.S. military and did not receive a dishonorable discharge. In addition, you must be able to answer YES to one question listed below:

  1. Are you a U.S. military veteran who’s eligible for VA compensation (or would you be, if you weren’t already receiving military retired pay)?
  2. Were you discharged or released from active duty due to a service-connected disability?
  3. Did your discharge or release from active duty occur within the last three years?
  4. Did you serve on active duty during one or more wartime periods listed below?
    • Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955);
    • Vietnam Era (February 28, 1961-May 7, 1975 for veterans serving in the Republic of Vietnam, or August 5, 1964-May 7, 1975 for all other cases)
    • Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990-present)
  5. Did you serve on active duty in any campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized under the laws administered by the Department of Defense?
  6. Did you serve on active duty in a U.S. military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded pursuant to Executive Order 12985 (61 FR 1209) and were you awarded the Armed Forces Service Medal?
  7. If you were awarded the Armed Forces Service Medal, is it listed on your DD Form 214?

Protected Veteran Rights Under the VEVRAA Law

As a protected veteran under VEVRAA, you have the right to work in a discrimination-free environment. Your protected veteran status means that legally, no employer can:

  • Deny you a job
  • Harass, demote or terminate you because you served in the military
  • Pay you less or treat you worse than any other employee

This law also says no employer can reduce your salary or pay you less just because you get a military pension.

Any disabled veteran can request a “reasonable accommodation” to help with applying for jobs or completing your work duties. Your employer must provide it unless doing so causes significant difficulty or expense.

Federal contractors must list job openings with the local employment service office or American Job Center. That way, any protected veteran can get a priority referral for those positions. The federal government usually prioritizes hiring disabled veterans, too. It also puts veterans that served during certain military conflicts higher on the hiring list.

Private companies, on the other hand (including those doing business with the government) don’t have to show preference in hiring for veterans. You should also know that veterans’ preference laws do not guarantee jobs for disabled vets.

Disabled vets may qualify for legal assistance with their VA disability claims. Whether you’re filing your first application or appealing a denial, a VA-accredited lawyer can answer your questions for free. You’ll never pay for professional claim help unless you win benefits. If you win, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee — or the federal government may cover the cost for you.

You may avoid paying fees if the VA wrongly denied your claim and win benefits at your ALJ appeals hearing. If this happens, the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) could cover all your legal costs. Talk to a lawyer about whether this option might apply to your case — you’ll never pay for a free consultation!

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free benefits evaluation now!

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Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at and