Bills Aim to Make Veterans a Protected Class in Housing, Employment Discrimination Laws

The House and Senate bills were crafted in consultation with AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Guard Association of the United States.

AMVETS sees the bills as key in its Amer­i­can Vet­er­ans Anti-Discrimination Ini­tia­tive.

“The Amer­i­can Vet­eran Anti-Discrimination Ini­tia­tive is an impor­tant leg­isla­tive pri­or­ity for AMVETS and our com­mu­nity,” said AMVETS National Com­man­der Cleve Geer. “The added sup­port of VFW and NGAUS gives us the momen­tum we need for action on Capi­tol Hill and to pro­tect our transitioning veterans.”

The veterans organization said it has gathered numerous examples of veterans whose rental applications were denied or who were fired from their job because of military status.

VFW Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Bob Wal­lace said "the value of mil­i­tary ser­vice has eroded to the point that being a vet­eran is seen as a lia­bil­ity to many employ­ers."

Proponents on the Hill cite a 2012 Center for a New American Security study that found more than 80 percent of the companies surveyed "described two or more challenges to hiring veterans."

More than 50 percent of employers noted a negative stereotype associated with veterans, including concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder and a perceived lack of flexibility.

"Although an emphasis on discipline, structure and process is prized by some employers, other employers perceive veterans as more rigid, less imaginative and less communicative than civilians. These perceptions are the mirror image of many positive comments discussed in the prior section about veterans’ discipline and strict adherence to processes, and they were sometimes exacerbated by veterans who stood or sat with a ramrod posture and responded to questions in a military fashion, emphasizing brevity and directness," the report stated.

"In these instances, the civilian employer would have preferred the candidate to be more open and communicative, whereas the veteran was likely interacting as the military had trained him or her."

Half of companies surveyed named the perceived acclimation period to civilian life as a challenge in extending a job offer to veterans and as a key explanation for veteran unemployment rates.

“If you fight for our country, you shouldn’t have to fight for a job when you come home,” Kilmer said.