Protected veteran is a term defined by the U.S. government as someone who is disabled, recently separated from the military, served in wartime or during a campaign, or earned the Armed Forces Service Medal.
The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA) and its subsequent amendments stipulates that VEVRAA veterans be given equal opportunity and that employers take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment these protected veterans.
To further clarify what a protected veteran is, let’s look at the various classes of protected veteran.
- A disabled veteran is considered a protected veteran if they served in the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service and they are entitled to compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs; or they are considered a protected veteran because they are a person discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.
- A recently separated veteran is a protected veteran if they served during the three-year period beginning on the date of the veteran’s discharge or release from active duty in the U.S. military.
- If a veteran served on active duty during wartime or if he/she earned a campaign badge, that individual is considered a protected veteran. The protected veteran must have served in ground, naval or air service during a war or expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized by the Department of Defense.
- An Armed Forces Services Medal Veteran is also a protected veteran because they served on active duty in the U.S. military during a U.S. military operation for which an Armed Forces Service Medal was awarded pursuant to Executive Order 12985.
Earning protected veteran status is as simple as finding a qualifying opportunity to serve and in recent years veterans of the Global War on Terror, those responding to the COVID-19 crisis and those serving in Operation Inherent Resolve all qualify and have earned their protected veteran status. But rather than chase preferred employment status, its probably better to do your duty, do it well, and reap the benefits of things you’ve earned, not pursued.