| Business forum: Veterans armed with job protection
Minnesotans join the rest of the nation in honoring military veterans The traditional Veterans Day fell on Sunday, Nov 11, commemorating the end of World War I 94 years ago But many official observances are Monday, including ceremonial events at various cemeteries, Fort Snelling and other sites around the country
Minnesota honors those who have served in the military in the workplace, too, including legislation adopted earlier this year that expands job opportunities for veterans and their spouses
Laws aimed at giving veterans more job-related rights date to the late 19th century in Minnesota, including a measure that provides greater job protection in the public sector than non-veterans receive Other long-standing laws give veterans and their spouses advantages in hiring and for some promotions within the public sector
The most recent addition to Minnesota laws favoring veterans was passed by the Legislature this year and signed by Gov Mark Dayton The measure extends the rights of veterans from the public sector to private enterprise Under the law, private-sector employers are authorized, but not obligated, to grant "preference" to hiring and promoting veterans This also extends to spouses of military veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related injury and to the surviving spouses of deceased veterans
The law does not specify what type of "preference" may be granted, how it may be bestowed, or any other details Rather, it simply permits employers to give such preferences to veterans and, if disabled or deceased, to their spouses
Pre-existing law in Minnesota prohibits discrimination in employment against individuals because of their military status The new law, conversely, allows them to be given preferential treatment and, to dispel any doubt, expressly states that granting such favoritism does not constitute a violation of any state or local anti-discrimination laws
That exemption, however, does not assure avoidance of litigation A non-veteran might still find some ways to assert discrimination because of preferential treatment given to veterans
Further, veterans themselves may raise various charges that they are being treated less favorably than other veterans with different or longer military service records
These disputes may be avoided if company management adopts written policies for according preference to veterans in hiring or promotion Failure to do so could leave firms vulnerable to charges of impropriety in positioning veterans more favorably than non-veterans or even in preferring some veterans over others
The private-sector preference permitted by the new Minnesota law complements other favorable considerations that veterans receive in the state One law allows veterans and their spouses preferential treatment in hiring in the public sector If competitive examinations are given for hiring, veterans and their spouses are required to be given 5 additional points on a 100-point scale, while disabled veterans can obtain up to 10 points On first-time promotional exams, disabled veterans are given 5 points
And preferential treatment does not exist only in hiring The venerable Veterans' Preference Act, which has been on the state's books since 1907, entitles those who performed military service for more than six months and have been honorably discharged the right to challenge any dismissal -- and even some significant demotions -- in most public-sector jobs by requiring the employer to prove that the action is taken against them because of "incompetency or misconduct" This is a high standard that gives veterans much more protection than their colleagues, who generally work on an at-will basis and can be demoted, disciplined or even discharged without proof of poor performance or any misbehavior
The Veterans' Preference law primarily covers employees of county, municipal and other local branches of government, with some exceptions for management-level jobs The law does not extend to employees of the state or the University of Minnesota
Still, the Veterans' Preference measure is a potent one Not only does it limit disciplinary action, especially termination of veterans, but it also allows them to remain on the payroll during the time that they are contesting any discharge
Another law, also only applicable to public-sector employees, grants veterans a leave of absence for up to 15 days a year for military service
These Minnesota measures exist side by side with some workplace protection laws at the federal level The most notable is the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, commonly known as USEERA, which prohibits retaliation against an individual because of past, present or prospective military service It is most often invoked when those in the military are denied their jobs, or given inferior ones, upon return from the service Some may view these preferential measures as being unfair to those who are not veterans Those who have worn the uniform may feel that they are entitled to even more advantages in the workplace But they are definitely armed with an arsenal of laws that can protect their rights in the workplace
Red Bull infantrymen prepare for deployment
Posted: 2016-06-29 09:44 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Minnesota National Guard Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment, 34th Infantry Division spent June 17-30, 2016, at Camp Ripley.
The Soldiers of 2-135 Infantry are taking part in annual training in preparation for the battalion's upcoming deployment.
"Our Soldiers are well-trained, experienced and ready when called upon," said Lt. Col. Jon Ostercamp, the battalion commander, during an interview earlier this spring.
Minnesota National Guard and Norwegian Home Guard Soldiers conduct domestic operations training with local law enforcement
Posted: 2016-06-28 08:30 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division and the Norwegian Home Guard received training from local Minnesota law enforcement officers during a three-day domestic operations training event on Camp Ripley, June 24-26, 2016.
The training event, meant to provide both Minnesota and Norwegian Soldiers with an understanding of inter-agency cooperation between law enforcement and the military, consisted of basic instruction in crisis negotiation, active shooters and hostage rescue.
"We were asked to participate in this training exercise, which I consider an honor," said Washington County SWAT team member Chris Rheault who is a crisis negotiator and also a full-time Woodbury police officer. "This training provides everyone an opportunity to share tactics. Although we're instructing the training, it really provides us with an opportunity to all learn from each other. These Soldiers have different experiences and teach us just as much as we can teach them."
American meal welcomes warriors
Posted: 2016-06-22 09:31 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard and Norwegian Home Guard gathered together at the Camp Ripley Hanger Conference Center June 20, 2016, for the American Meal as part of the Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange. The exchange began in 1974 and is the longest-running military exchange partnership between any two nations.
The event, centered on the taste of American foods, shared the cultural and social experiences typically found here in America.
"It has been a pleasure to be here; we have a lot to learn from each other and it starts right here, with the young members of our two military organizations," said Brig. Gen. Sandra Best, chief of staff of the Minnesota Air National Guard.
Here comes the boom!
Posted: 2016-06-21 10:13 AM
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - "Earthpig One-Six, this is Bravo Six, you are clear to advance on the objective," is heard over the radio within the crowded, oven-like Bradley Fighting Vehicle operated by engineers of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion in the middle of the Mojave Desert on June 15, 2016.
The platoon, consisting of two Bradley Fighting Vehicles and an Assault Breacher Vehicle, was preparing for a live-fire breaching mission utilizing the mine clearing line charge while in "The Box" during National Training Center rotation 16-07 for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, at Fort Irwin, California.
"The 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment, requested my platoon as an asset in an obstacle breaching lane where we used a mine clearing line charge, or MICLIC," said Sgt. Adam Clark, a combat engineer with A Co., 334th BEB. "We provide security for our ABV asset to be able to effectively launch the rocket and detonate the charges to clear whatever the obstacle may be."