| 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
Camp Ripley drives on with rebuild
Posted: 2016-12-02 01:01 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Following a damaging storm last fall, Camp Ripley and the Minnesota National Guard set plans in motion for the rebuilding of housing and maintenance structures on the installation.
"The replacement strategy for outdated and damaged buildings is integrated into our long-range development plan to ensure Camp Ripley is able to meet future mission requirements," said Deputy Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Chad Sackett.
The location of Camp Ripley was selected in 1929 by Minnesota's Adjutant General, Ellard Walsh, in order to replace the small, outmoded 200-acre training camp in southern Minnesota created in 1888.
Chef Challenge serves up for military and community
Posted: 2016-11-30 02:51 PM
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - Minnesota National Guard food service specialists competed for "Top Chef" at the Nov. 11 Veterans Day Chef Challenge at the Mall of America.
To celebrate Veterans Day the Mall of America, Star Tribune and Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Network teamed up to host the ultimate Chef Challenge pairing Minnesota National Guard personnel with chefs from restaurants located at the Mall of America.
"It was a unique situation and lots of fun," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul Erickson of Camp Ripley, who was entered as one of the competitors for the first round of the competition.
Uncovering the past at Camp Ripley
Posted: 2016-11-16 12:03 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. -Archaeologists from Commonwealth Heritage Group out of Milwaukee, Wis., concluded phase I inventory surveys Nov. 4, 2016, at Camp Ripley.
The surveys help to identify lands possibly used as settlements on the Camp Ripley reservation, how they connect to the surrounding areas and if they hold any significant historical value.
"Some of the same lands that Camp Ripley uses for the training of our Service members and inter-agency partners, were once settlements dating back hundreds of years," said Patrick Neumann, Cultural Resources manager at Camp Ripley.
Camp Ripley preserves, protects environmental and cultural resources
Posted: 2016-11-09 12:33 PM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The environmental team at Camp Ripley continues to be proud of their reputation for conserving the natural and cultural resources of central Minnesota.
Additionally, the team supports unit readiness through research, guidance and implementation of sustainable, environmentally-responsible practices.
"Since the increase in operational tempo, over the past few decades, the need for usable training lands became a significant demand for military and emergency response agencies," said Jay Brezinka, Environmental Supervisor with the Minnesota National Guard. "The role of the Environmental Office has been critical in accommodating the needs of the military mission while mitigating possible impacts on our natural resources."