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Disabled veterans returning from Afghanistan face challenges

Up to 23,000 troops may be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of the summer. If historical projections hold true -- almost half (45%) of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have sought compensation for injuries they say are service-related -- many of those veterans will be disabled and seeking protections as they return to the workforce.

Historically, disabled veterans have faced challenges returning to the workforce. Only 80% of the disabled veterans from the second Gulf War era were in the labor force as of August, 2011. However, increased advocacy offers some hope and guidance to employers in Minnesota and nationwide to avoid discrimination as a result of disability.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has published several guides to help employers provide reasonable accommodations to disabled veterans, as required by the ADA. Examples may include modifications to the work schedule, making facilities accessible to the disabled, and modifying tests and training materials.

If you are a disabled veteran encountering resistance from your employer about requested modifications to your work environment or the way your job is customarily done, you may be able to bring a claim for disability discrimination. An attorney will be able to ensure that all of your rights are protected and will help you transition fully back into the workforce.

Common injuries for veterans returning from Afghanistan may include missing limbs, burns, spinal cord injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss and traumatic brain injuries. If you have questions about how your employer should accommodate your disability, an attorney can review your case and provide advice.

Source: Business Insurance, "USERRA compliance can be challenging for employers," Judy Greenwald, June 17, 2012

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