Written by Riva Cho

The thousands of dedicated military personnel stationed around the world deserve more than just a salute to honor them for the security they provide for millions of civilians. Likewise,  veterans deserve more than an honorary token of recognition for their bravery and dedication for the same services. Among all the careers in the world, military jobs are categorized as one of the most difficult and dangerous. Despite this, many have not been given the appropriate protection and compensation that they deserved for the past years. This causes many military personnel to leave active duty and return to their previous jobs while others look for new jobs.

Very often, due to the work’s nature, military personnel are exposed to inherently dangerous situations. These situations sometimes lead to serious and life-threatening injuries such as physical damage, disorders, and fatality. Many veterans report having a type of service-connected disability such as spinal cord injuries, hearing loss, missing limbs, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), burns, traumatic brain injury, and more.

With this realization, a law was enacted by Congress by the help of senator Tom Harkin and approved by president George H.W. Bush in July 26, 1990 and later amended on January 1, 2009. The law is named Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which aims to provide protection to veterans with disabilities. Abiding by this law meant the prohibition of discrimination, improper, and unfavorable treatment of disabled veterans in the place of work based on their disability. ADA also offers regulations and equal rights for veterans who are searching for jobs and even to those who are already in the workplace.

Scope of ADA

  • Prohibits employers from unfavorable treatment to his/her employee or applicant in all the employment aspects. These include job assignments, terminations, hiring, training, promotions, or other privileges. Moreover, the employer should not refuse to hire veterans with an irrelevant assumption of disability, previous diagnosis of certain disability, or because of the reason alone that he/she has a disability due to presumption that he/she is only capable of doing light job. This also prohibits disability-based retaliation, discrimination, or harassment thus degrading his/her morale or causing physical assault. Furthermore, employees and applicants with disability shall also be given equal benefits and privilege as normal employees do. They are entitled to reasonable job accommodation, enjoy their benefits, and perform their jobs while having a sense of belonging in their workplace.
  • Those veterans with service-connected disability will only be entitled to the ADA protection if he/she meets the definition of disability described in the ADA. These include the following: individuals having a mental or physical impairments which limits one or more life activities substantially; has a medical record of such impairment; or regarded having such kind of impairment. A person with disability in accordance with ADA’s definition is qualified if he/she was able to meet the employer’s job requirements such as training, skills, employment experience, education, licenses, and was able to do or perform the job’s fundamental duties even without reasonable accommodation.
  • There should be a public accommodation like facilities or places that are specially designed for the individuals with disabilities. Under the Title III of the ADA, there should be a modification, construction, or alterations in the facilities of the workplace (including transportation and other work locations). Employers should remove architectural barriers in the workplace, thus complying with the provision. Facilities with historic properties should also comply to the title III of ADA but without destroying or threatening the historic features and significance of the facility.

There are also other accommodations which veterans can use for his/her needs for any job application or performing his/her job. He/She can make use of the following: recruitment fairs, tests; interviews and training held in places or accessible locations; or telecommunications such as modified devices or equipments using assistive technology allowing blind or deaf people to communicate with their employer or other job-related personnel. Examples include technologies which allow blind individuals to use computer, or specialized phones which can be used by deaf or hearing impaired individuals for communicating.

Veterans with disabilities can take part and participate in all society’s aspects. They are not a liability but an asset which can contribute to the success of the economy and overall well-being the country. We thank those who participate and abide by the protective laws of the ADA. through your efforts,  disabled veterans and civilians alike will receive the treatment they deserve.