An infographic with the title, “Am I A Protected Veteran?” was jointly published by the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) in August of this year.
The title and graphic representation of the infographic was visually straightforward, but the reaction to the infographic’s release in the federal contractor/subcontractor community was not, particularly since the infographic was published during the required VETS-4212 reporting period, August 1 through September 30. In fact, the OFCCP felt the need to directly address the information in the infographic by adding two new questions to their New Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Regulations FAQ just this month. VEVRAA regulations articulate contractors’ nondiscrimination and affirmative action responsibilities towards increasing job opportunities for protected veterans, particularly in hiring.
What is an Active Duty Wartime Veteran?
The new FAQ questions regarding the protected veteran infographic are:
- Does the infographic change the definition of "protected veteran" as defined in VEVRAA; and
- The infographic’s description of an "active duty wartime" veteran is broader than what many previously understood. How did OFCCP determine the scope of this category of protected veteran?
The OFCCP explains that the four protected categories remain the same: disabled veteran; recently separated veteran; active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran; or Armed Forces service medal veteran. However, the definition of an “active duty wartime” veteran (under category three) is now expanded and specifically spelled out in the infographic and the FAQ to include “World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam era, and the Persian Gulf War, which is defined as August 2, 1990, to the present.” Those who served from August 2, 1990 to the present are by definition included, whether or not a campaign badge was issued, and whether or not they served in combat.
What is the Significance of this Expanded Definition?
By expanding and clarifying the protected veteran definition, more veterans will almost certainly be self-identifying as protected veterans in the pre-offer and post-offer phases of applying for employment with federal contractors. For federal contractors and subcontractors, this is also a positive development, particularly as they are required to report applicant and workforce data on protected veterans in the VETS 4212 report, and as an integral piece of measuring their affirmative action efforts.
Contractors are annually required to set a protected veteran hiring benchmark, and most choose to do so based on the annual national percentage of veterans in the workforce. This percentage is currently at 7% (originally at 8% when VEVRAA regulations were released).
With more protected veterans answering in the affirmative regarding their status, and the benchmark decreasing, most contractors will be better able to
answer in the affirmative that they are indeed making progress in reaching their protected veteran hiring benchmark and are measuring the effectiveness
of their recruitment and affirmative action efforts with greater accuracy. For additional information on protected veteran status and affirmative
action, contact our OFCCP Compliance Group.