OFCCP Expands Definition of “Protected Veteran”

In 2013, when the VEVRAA implementing regulations were revised, many contractors were confused by the “active duty wartime or campaign badge” category. The regulations define an “active duty wartime or campaign badge veteran” as a veteran who served on active duty in the U.S. military, ground, naval or air service during a war, or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized under the laws administered by the Department of Defense.  The confusion stems from the fact that Congress has not declared “war” since World War II, though there have been several “periods of war” since that time. Absent a clear definition, different Federal agencies apply different definitions, depending on the purpose (e.g., OPM’s definition for Veteran preference vs. Veteran’s Affairs definitions for certain benefits). Under the new infographic, OFCCP revised the language of the active duty wartime definition to “Did you serve on active duty during one or more of the periods of war outlined in 38 U.S.C. 101?”

Our friends at the Equal Employment Advisory Council (EEAC) recently pointed out that OFCCP’s infographic for determining if you are a “protected veteran” has adopted the “period of war” phraseology versus the more narrowly defined “during a war”. Under this guidance, the infographic states that individuals who served on active duty during the following “periods of war” are covered:

  • Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955),
  • Vietnam Era (February 28, 1961-May 7, 1975 for veterans serving in the Republic of Vietnam or August 5, 1964-May 7, 1975 for all others), and
  • Persian Gulf War (August 2, 1990-present).

The other campaigns and expeditions for which a campaign badge was authorized also still apply to this category, but are likely redundant for most veterans seeking employment. The practical impacts of this change include 1) based upon this recent expansion the “recently separated” category has been moot for almost 25 years, 2) “Vietnam Era” veterans are still covered (despite the rescission of 41 CFR 60-250), and 3) it is likely that protected veteran representation has been under-reported by contractors on the VETS-4212 and the VEVRAA 44k analytics . The third point stems from the likelihood that applicants and employees used a more strict application of the category “active duty wartime or campaign badge” than OFCCP apparently intended.

The next question is whether contractors will want to revise their self-identification forms yet again to clarify the more broad definition.

By Dave Cohen, President, and Kristen Pryor, Consultant at DCI Consulting Group 

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