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What Is A Protected Veteran?


Veterans Day (November 11) is drawing near with so much love and honor to the service and sacrifice of veterans throughout the history of our nation. We must be familiar with the term “Veteran,” but what is a Protected Veteran? In addition, how do you know if you are one, and what are the legal rights for this group of people? 

If you doubt your protected veteran status, this article can help you through! Scroll down to learn more about it.

Veteran Round Wooden Sign
Veteran Round Wooden Sign
U.S. Navy Veteran Flag
U.S. Navy Veteran Flag
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Sheepdog American Flag

Protected Veteran Status Meaning

Under the United States, Code Title 38, section 2331(4), protected veteran status means that an individual who served on active duty in the armed forces during a war or campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized under federal law or in a theater of such war or campaign during which he was subject to hostile fire. 

what is a protected veteran
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It’s veterans who have had combat service with the military. An honorable discharge or release from active duty is required. If you are unsure if you qualify as one, check with your local Veterans Affairs office. They can tell you if VA has updated your records to reflect your veteran status.

Protected Veteran Classifications

Take a deeper understanding of the protected veteran classifications. The U.S. government defines them as follows:

  • Disabled Veteran: Referring to any veteran who served in the United States military on active duty and is entitled to compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Also, he or she can be a protected veteran if they were discharged or released from active duty due to a service-connected disability.
  • Recently Separated Veteran: Referring to any veteran who served during the three years beginning on the date of their discharge or release from active duty in the United States military.
  • Armed Forces Service Medal Veteran: Referring to any veteran whom an Armed Forces service medal was awarded for serving on active duty in the United States military and participating in a U.S. military operation.
  • Other Protected Veteran: Any veteran who served on active duty in the United States military (ground, naval, or air service) during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge was authorized under Department of Defense laws.

How Do I Know If I'm A Protected Veteran?

You are probably wondering how you can be sure that you are protected. There are two basic ways to find out if you have this veteran status. 

The first way is to call a veterans assistance office, as I have pointed out previously. This will tell you whether you have protected veteran status and inform you of what benefits and services may be available to you. 

The second way, although more complicated, is to check your DD-214 form for protected veterans status. This form must be issued through the Department of Defense.

a protected veteran woman in a military uniform
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If you received an honorable discharge, even with other minor issues on your record, then you are likely protected under law. If none of these apply to you, then it’s possible that either:

A) You didn’t serve long enough, or 

B) Your service wasn’t recognized as being honorable enough.

Protected Veteran Rights

Knowing your special rights for being a protected veteran is essential, especially when it comes to employment. Let’s learn about them!

Protected From Employment Discrimination By The OFCCP

The aim of OFCCP

First, spend a minute getting familiar with the OFCCP, a state-own program that protects the rights of veterans and other groups of people. Accordingly, employers doing business with the federal government must recruit, hire, and promote them under this law, also known as the VEVRAA — Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974.


OFCCP logo
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The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) ensures that employers do not discriminate against applicants or employees because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity), national origin, disability, or status as a protected veteran. This includes discrimination in hiring, promotion, discharge, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. 

Under Executive Order 11246 and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 503), prohibited personnel practices include retaliation for prior complaints or participate in employment discrimination proceedings.

What are your rights as a protected veteran?

  • The right to work in a nondiscriminatory environment — you cannot be turned down for a job, harassed, relegated, revoked, paid less, or treated less favorably because of your veteran status.
  • If you are disabled, you have the right to request a reasonable accommodation that allows you to perform your job. Unless doing so would cause the employer significant difficulty or expense, your employer must make reasonable accommodation for you.
  • Similarly, suppose you are a disabled veteran applying for a job. In that case, the employer must make reasonable accommodations for you to do it with ease and be considered for it during the hiring process.

Finding Employment Opportunities

As federal law defines, the first right requires employers to hire protected veterans before any other applicant. Additionally, many states and municipalities offer veteran rights such as hiring preferences and protection from discrimination.

a protected veteran is attending a job interview
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If you’re looking for work as a veteran in protected status, learning about your legal rights is essential. Find out what protections are offered at both state and federal levels. That would help you make informed decisions about where to seek employment opportunities.

Filing A Complaint About Being Discriminated

You can file a complaint with the OFCCP if you believe your employer discriminated against you because of your protected veterans status (regardless of whether your employer is a federal contractor or subcontractor). There is a complaint form for you to do so. Remember to complete it with your full exact information, and sign it. 

The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service at the Department of Labor or a Local Veterans’ Employment Representative at the local employment service office or American Job Center — These are other places that you can file a complaint to. Your concerns then should be forwarded to the OFCCP.

American Veteran Sheepdogs Flag
Veteran Sheepdogs Flag
vietnam veteran flag
Vietnam Veteran Flag
veteran flag
Veteran Flag

Related Questions

It’s not wrong to identify as a protected veteran. There are many reasons people choose to do so. For example, some people will associate themselves with protected veteran status if they feel they have been harmed or threatened by others. This gives them an outlet through which they can seek protection or legal recourse if necessary.

Protecting veterans with disabilities is more than just lip service; it’s an obligation that employers must meet in order to be in compliance with federal law. 

If you know someone who has served in any branch of military service, you can ask them if they’re a protected veteran by simply asking Are you a protected veteran? Many veterans will be able to easily confirm or deny that they are indeed protected under law.

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