The unfair treatment of Veterans, and discrimination against Veterans with PTSD in particular, continues to plague workplaces across America. Many industries are questionable at best when it comes to their hiring practices, and some employers are unfortunately ignorant, willingly or unwillingly, to the laws protecting Veterans. If you’ve served in the military, you know how much value your experiences can add to a business. Even though having PTSD may come with certain stigmas, your disorder does not define who you are as a worker or as a person.
Suggested read: Signs of PTSD: A Special Ops Veteran’s Awakening (A Personal Story)
Discrimination Against Veterans With PTSD in Employment
Conscious and subconscious discrimination against Veterans with PTSD in the workplace reaches from small mom-and-pop stores to Fortune 500 companies. Even studies, such as the one from the Center for New American Security (CNAS) interviewing large employers like Walmart, Bank of America, and Target, show executives may believe Veterans are good for business but are often hesitant to hire them due to the negative perception of PTSD through popular media.
Is PTSD a Protected Disability?
Are disabled Veterans a protected class? Yes, PTSD is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but despite this, Veteran discrimination in employment is still an unfortunate reality for many of our nation’s heroes. The National Center for PTSD shows the following statistics related to how common PTSD is among Veterans returning from war:
- As many as 30% of all Vietnam Veterans will experience PTSD in their lifetimes.
- Around 12% of Veterans of the Gulf War will experience PTSD each year.
- On average, 11%-20% of all Veterans who were a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom experience PTSD every year.
The sad reality is that PTSD is a common problem as more and more Veterans return to civilian life. Equally as unfortunate is the unfair treatment of Veterans that may come as a result of these issues.
Understanding PTSD and Veterans Discrimination in the Workplace
Because of the misunderstandings and stigmas that surround mental health, many employers wish to avoid such issues altogether. PTSD can come with a variety of adverse side effects, such as flashbacks, depression, panic attacks, anger, and more. These issues can be scary for employers who are unaware of the many resources available to Veterans and the progress made over many years.
This stems from vast areas of research, such as studies showing that Veterans are more likely to have PTSD symptoms improve when they are able to choose their form of treatment. Other PTSD facts and statistics display several advancements, including an understanding of the relationship of the disorder with substance abuse, the growing accessibility to mental health professionals, and a better prognosis that helps Veterans eliminate symptoms.
PTSD manifests itself differently depending on a variety of factors, including the cause, severity, and other elements surrounding the mental health of an individual.
Resources for Veterans With PTSD Facing Discrimination in the Workplace
Combatting discrimination against Veterans with PTSD may feel like an unwinnable battle, a moot point in which many heroes should simply move on and seek employment elsewhere. But there are copious resources available that can help you right injustices that may affect you or another person you know who served in the Armed Forces.
Most notably is the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Here, you can find information on laws and protections that employers must follow to comply with the law. The VA is also extremely useful in helping Veterans understand how to file a discrimination complaint.
Fight Discrimination Against Veterans With PTSD
It’s important to know what discrimination looks like and to understand that you have a right to defend yourself against such treatment. The unfair treatment of Veterans or anyone should not be tolerated, and if you are suffering non-compliance related to any of the following rules, you may want to consult legal counsel:
- As a Veteran with PTSD, you are protected during the job application stage and throughout interviews. Questions about your disability are off-limits.
- You have a right to ask for and receive reasonable accommodations from your employer that allow you to perform your job effectively. Some examples include moving to a different open position if you are unable to perform your previous duty or it is too much of a hardship for the company to provide accommodations or reasonably modify your work schedule.
- When looking for a job in the federal government, due to the Veterans Preference Act, Veterans with or without disabilities can be given preference over others while hiring.
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) says that employers must make reasonable efforts to help Veterans returning to previous jobs held before leaving for military service.
- Under USERRA, if you are unable to return to your position, your employer will need to find an equivalent position in terms of work, pay, and status for you to fill. If this means that they will need to train or retrain you, your company is responsible for providing such education at their own expense.
Understanding your rights is one of the first steps in fighting discrimination against Veterans with PTSD. Be sure to support fellow Veterans if you are one and to stand up for those who have served if you are not. Together, we can help destigmatize the perception of Veterans in the workplace and make our workforce a stronger place to operate.
More like this: What Is a Protected Veteran Status & How Can It Help My Career
*The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. Always consult your personal physician for specific medical advice.