In addition to the post-deployment concerns they share with their active duty counterparts, an essential part of the process for National Guard or Reserve members is returning to their civilian jobs or finding new employment. This process can often add stress to a family reintegrating after deployment. However, there is a great deal of employment support for veterans and it is important for families to be aware of their rights and benefits.
Chief among them is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). Signed into law in 1994, USERRA protects National Guard or Reserve members who are called to active duty while employed. Under USERRA, a pre-service employer must reemploy service members returning from a period of service in the Uniformed Services if those service members meet five criteria:
- The person must have held a civilian job;
- The person must have given notice to the employer that he or she was leaving the job for service in the Uniformed Services, unless giving notice was precluded by military necessity or otherwise impossible or unreasonable;
- The cumulative period of service must not have exceeded five years;
- The person must not have been released from service under dishonorable or other punitive conditions; and
- The person must have reported back to the civilian job in a timely manner or have submitted a timely application for reemployment.
The Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) under the U. S. Department of Labor is the agency charged with enforcing USERRA. However, the law also allows an employee to enforce his or her rights by filing a court action directly, without filing a complaint with VETS. Compliance assistance information is available on the VETS website at: www.dol.gov/vets/ or by contacting the Department's Toll-Free Help Line at 1.866.4.USA.DOL. Reserve component families wishing to learn more about USERRA protections should go to http://www.dol.gov/vets/programs/userra/USERRA_Private.pdf.
In addition to USERRA, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) was established by the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1972 to help promote cooperation and understanding between reserve component members and their civilian employers. ESGR works through a nationwide network of volunteers and a small, full-time support staff to inform and educate hundreds of thousands of reserve component members and their employers regarding their rights and responsibilities, to share best practices, and to develop and maintain relationships with employers. For more information on this program, go to: http://esgr.org/site/.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also formed an internal task force known as the Veterans Employment Coordination Service (VECS) to oversee the VA's program to recruit new veterans into the VA workforce, especially recently disabled combat veterans. Veterans Employment Coordinators (VEC) provide hands-on assistance to veterans interested in careers at the VA. VECs assist veterans with resume building and interviewing techniques, and also advocate for the severely injured veteran for employment opportunities within the VA. To find out more about the VECS program, go to: http://www.va.gov/vecs/.
Click here for an additional list of resources for Veterans' Jobs.
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