While deployed to Afghanistan in 2010, former Collections Systems Tech Everett Patten reinjured his knee, requiring a medical evacuation from theater. Patten is a Navy veteran who was called up from his position in the Reserves to contribute to the military effort in the Middle East. He was also a County employee, having worked for Clackamas County for 19 years.
With more than 50,000 wounded warriors returning to the United States for treatment, rehabilitation and relearning how to live with a serious injury, families throughout California and the rest of the United States have answered their own call to duty: to take care of their loved one at Walter Reed or another military hospital. But many family members have lost their jobs because of the extended time away from work required to nurse a son, daughter or spouse back to health after a battlefield injury.
Although the general rule in the United States is that employment is always at will and can be terminated without cause at any time, armed forces veterans are a big exception. Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), veterans are entitled to a number of benefits. If employers violate veterans' USERRA rights, veterans can sue to enforce compliance.
Between the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of reservists and National Guard members are leaving jobs and families behind to serve their country. Upon return, after putting their lives on the line, many may experience discrimination in trying to reenter the workforce.