Those who serve our country in the Reservist and Guard forces have certain rights when it comes to being re-employed in the civilian sector when their active tour is complete.
Federal law states Reservists and Guards called to military duty have a right to be re-employed in their former job as if they had never gone on military leave. Being called to military duty is considered an unpaid leave of absence, and the member is entitled to the same benefits and salary related to seniority with some limitations.
In order for a Guard or Reservist member to get his or her old job back, he or she must reapply for the position. Certain time contingencies apply as to when and how the former service member can reapply for their job and re-enter the workforce. Those who were on duty less than 31 days are expected to begin working on the next regular work cycle after having been released from active duty. Those who were on duty more than 31 days but less than 181 days have 14 days to re-apply, while those who were on duty more than 181 days have 90 days in which to seek their former job. The maximum allowance for military absence is five years. Related to this, service members returning from active duty also have the right to medical insurance. Again, the amount of time they were on active duty will determine the scope and type of insurance coverage they will receive.
In 1994, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) was enacted to help protect service members' rights and benefits with regard to civilian employment. By expanding the time service members can be absent from work while on military duty, USERRA has helped mitigate any disadvantages or discrimination one may face when returning to civilian life. The act clarifies the laws surrounding re-employment rights and has enhanced the protection offered to disabled veterans.
Serving active duty in the armed forces can create hardships for service members and their families, and the re-entry into civilian life can be a challenge. Those who are facing the process would do well to seek the advice of an attorney experienced in veteran benefits and employment law, especially if they are experiencing any sort of discrimination or legal issues related to their re- employment or insurance coverage.