Transitioning from a military to civilian career may be challenging for any veteran. However, when a service member was discharged for committing a minor offense, it’s often even more difficult for him or her to secure a good job. Employers in Tennessee sometimes use veteran status as a way to filter applicants for open positions. When the job requires that veterans have been honorably discharged, certain former service members might be unfairly disqualified due to no fault of their own.
In the four years between 2011 and 2015, 13,000 service members with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury received other than honorable discharges. A recent report showed that these service members were disproportionately black, Latino, disabled or gay. Thousands of men and women were discharged simply because of their sexual orientation. Unless they leave the military with an honorable discharge, veterans lose their GI bill and other benefits that could help them adjust to civilian life.
Without a good job and no medical insurance, veterans with mental health conditions like PTSD may be even more disadvantaged. Some states have already changed the laws regarding employment discrimination on the basis of military discharge status. These changes may result in helping employers recognize the difference in the various discharge statuses so they can make informed hiring decisions. At least one U.S. senator feels that changing the way the military discharges disabled veterans could have a more substantial impact on their future than changing state employment laws.
Veterans who may have been discriminated against in the workplace or even during the hiring process may be entitled to compensation for their losses. Workplace discrimination is illegal, but it may take the help of an experienced legal team to prove an employee or job applicant was treated unfairly based on his or her protected status.