Monday, July 16, 2012

VCS: Protect Veterans at Work

Veterans for Common Sense Stands with the United Steelworkers to protect Veterans Rights at Work

Veterans for Common Sense supports veterans and service members at every phase of their service and lives. VCS stands with the United Steelworkers in their efforts to protect its veteran members. The men and women who serve America in uniform have a tough enough mission without having to worry about losing their jobs when they get home. They swear an oath to protect and defend America and they make many sacrifices to uphold that oath. In return, America is bound by law and by conscience to take care of our troops when they return. However, existing law is clearly insufficient.

It is vital to our national security, national public interest, and required by law that veterans and service members be allowed time to access necessary service-related care and necessary time to drill or deploy without having to worry about being punished at work or losing their job because of it. This is a relatively small sacrifice required of employers on behalf of those who have sacrificed much for the country.

Unfortunately, some companies are not upholding their end. Veterans and Guard or Reserve members are losing their jobs or are put under pressure at work because they seek time to receive service-related care or to serve military deployments. This happens despite the Soldiers and Sailors Employment Act requiring employers to hold a service member’s job when they deploy and to give them time to fulfill military obligations.

In January, Carey Salt Company, a subsidiary of Compass Minerals International, Inc., fired employee Derrick Forestier, a Bronze Star recipient, who retired a Sergeant First-Class after 24 years in the U.S Army; including three combat tours in five deployments. Forestier sought time off from work to receive required medical treatment at a VA facility for a service-connected issue, a condition the company was notified of before hiring him. Based on the information the United Steelworkers have been provided, the United Steelworkers believe that Forestier was fired because the company believed Forestier’s absences to attend his VA appointments created work place problems. The United Steelworkers have taken up the fight in Louisiana, where Forestier was employed, and are investigating whether there are other cases of mistreatment of veterans by this company in other locations. VCS is happy to join this fight alongside the United Steelworkers to ensure that our veterans can pursue the life they want once they take off the uniform, without sacrificing their health and well-being.

Veterans for Common Sense is proud to stand with the United Steelworkers to protect veterans’ rights at work. To that end VCS supports Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) who is sponsoring the Wounded Veteran Job Security Act to protect Veterans from losing their jobs for seeking treatment for service-related conditions. Doggett said: “No veteran should have to stand in front of their employer after suffering an injury while serving the red, white and blue and be given a pink slip. Workers and Veterans like Derrick Forestier, an Army Sergeant First Class who served 24 years on active duty, including three combat tours of duty and five deployments, should not be forced to choose between keeping a job and receiving the Veteran’s benefits he rightfully earned.”

Those who serve or have served America in the military have a hard enough job and they have sacrificed much for the country. It is not too much to ask an employer that they be given time off to continue to serve or to seek necessary treatment for conditions resulting from their service. We have to protect those who serve if we expect them to protect us when the nation requires it. Support the troops is not just a slogan, this is the right thing to do for our brave men and women.