Every year thousands and men and women in the U.S. armed forces leave active service and become veterans. Veterans are defined by their service, courage and selfless dedication to the nation’s welfare. But for many in the armed forces, transitioning into the civilian workforce after serving in the military presents unique challenges.
As the director of the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, I’m proud of my agency’s role in helping these brave men and women to overcome those challenges and find good jobs in the civilian workforce.
One way OFCCP supports veterans is by enforcing the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, which requires that companies with federal contracts or subcontracts of $100,000 or more provide equal opportunity and affirmative action for protected veterans. Wounded warriors are also protected by Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against people with disabilities.
Our goals are simple: Ensure that businesses never use taxpayer money to discriminate, and ensure that all qualified workers have a fair shot at landing a good job.
Last summer I traveled to New Jersey to participate in a forum honoring women veterans. After I described OFCCP’s role in supporting our nation’s veterans, many women in the audience shared powerful, personal stories about the challenges they had faced in finding work. It’s impossible to hear stories like these and not feel moved – and some in the audience were even moved to action. More than a dozen employers at the event, many of them federal contractors, met with the female veterans and offered to assist them in their job searches.
Moments like this are why I love my job. They are reminders of how the government and the private sector can work together to improve the lives of America’s workers.
At the Department of Labor, we are committed to aiding those who have served our country as they transition back into civilian life. We firmly believe there is no better way to honor our nation’s veterans and their families than to reaffirm, every day, our commitment to ensuring that they are protected against discrimination and provided equal opportunity in America’s civilian workforce.
Patricia Shiu is the director of the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.