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The Benefits of Hiring Veterans in a Drug-Free Workplace

by | Jun 29, 2023 | Health & Wellness

There are approximately 5 million veterans in the general workforce, and often, many of them struggle to acclimate to civilian life. Help them and help your business by considering hiring veterans. Their dedication and honor in active duty is the same devotion and hard work they will bring to your company. Let’s examine some of the benefits they bring to the workforce and how you should approach hiring them, especially considering that many may be suffering from substance use disorders (SUDs).

Benefits of Hiring a Veteran
There are many advantages to hiring a veteran including:

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) – The WOTC is a tax break that employers receive when they hire veterans and other targeted groups.
Salary subsidies and reimbursement – Veteran’s Affairs (VA) aids in the hiring of veterans by offering employers salary subsidies which allow them to pay entry-level wages for onboarding and training and salary reimbursement, which allows them to receive up to half of the veteran’s salary plus other costs for up to six months.
Free assistance and accessibility – Through the Non-Paid Work Experience Program, you can hire veterans at no cost to you (the VA pays them a monthly stipend), and if the veterans require accommodations and accessibility, the VA may pay for the remodeling of your facilities, including assistive technology and specialized tools.
Strong work ethic – Organization, accountability, strength, and resilience are all fundamentals of military service. Veterans undoubtedly possess all or most of these character traits that they employ in work and life. They will bring productivity and excellence to any business.
Leadership – The military is a structured hierarchy made for direction and leadership. Veterans understand the importance of leadership and may have served in a commanding role, so mentoring, making strategic decisions, and growing in the ranks would be a familiar role and process for veterans.
You can become a company that not only takes advantage of the benefits they offer but also a company that values the service and sacrifice they gave, but you must first understand the process of hiring a veteran.

Can you hire someone because they are a veteran?
Yes, you can hire someone because they are a veteran, particularly a protected veteran, and you cannot discriminate against veterans according to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Right Act (USERRA) and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA).

The USERRA and the VEVRAA are federal laws that protect against employment discrimination based on veteran status, regardless of their military background, ensuring fair treatment and equal opportunities in the workplace.

A silhouette of a soldier standing in front of a flag

What is the Veteran’s Preference Hiring Act?
The Veteran’s Preference Hiring Act, aka. the Veteran’s Employment Opportunity Act of 1998 (VEOA), states that disabled veterans who have served on active duty during specific time periods or military campaigns are entitled to preferential treatment in almost all federal government job opportunities, giving them an advantage over other applicants.

Note: This Act does not directly apply to state agencies or private corporations; however, most can adopt the VEOA as a part of their hiring policy.

Do employers have to ask about veteran status?
If you are hiring for a federal position, you must ask the applicant about their veteran status, and you may ask whether they are a “disabled veteran” for affirmative action purposes. However, it is not legal for any company to request medical information covered by HIPPA or to discriminate against individuals based on their disability or veteran status, this includes protected veterans or veterans who were on active duty during combat or earned a campaign badge.

Veterans and substance use disorder (SUD)
Veterans, particularly protected veterans who may have developed PTSD or other psychological disorders from serving in combat are especially susceptible to substance use disorders. In 2022, approximately 1.1 million veterans met the criteria for SUDs, with 25% addicted to illicit drugs and 80% addicted to alcohol (some veterans are addicted to both illicit drugs and alcohol).

Individualized vocational rehabilitation services are crucial for veterans who have experienced employment disparities due to substance or alcohol use disorders. Consider implementing a comprehensive employee assistance program (EAP) that includes substance abuse professional (SAP) services to address any potential needs. This EAP with SAP services can support your drug-free workplace program by providing counseling, SAP services, and other helpful resources for disabled veterans, allowing them to maintain sobriety and productivity at work.

Is substance use disorder a VA disability?
The VA recognizes SUDs as a type of disability because of their high occurrence among veterans. These disorders, which frequently involve alcohol, tobacco, street drugs, and prescription drugs, can result in numerous health complications, both physical and emotional, not to mention poor performance at work and work-related accidents.

Steps to Consider When Hiring a Veteran
Hiring veterans offers numerous advantages that far outweigh any conceivable hazards or complexities. It shows that your organization recognizes the importance of their prior service and values their assimilation into the community and the wealth of knowledge they contribute.

Promote a judgment-free and supportive work environment for all, including veterans with possible SUDs.

Educate your team about SUDs and be sure to emphasize that although you uphold a drug-free workplace, you are willing and able (through an EAP with SAP services, random testing, and other means) to provide resources and support to establish a productive and healthy workforce.

Update your drug and alcohol testing policy and hiring process to include reasonable accommodations for veterans.

Be sure to check with state and federal guidelines concerning your drug and alcohol testing policy to ensure compliance and avoid discrimination. Likewise, consider an addendum to your employee handbook that includes reasonable accommodations (i.e. flexible scheduling for medical appointments or therapy sessions) and modified job requirements (i.e. modified duties during their transition from a treatment program) to meet the specific needs of the veteran.

Offer ongoing resources and support to the veteran.

Partner with vocational rehabilitation services, a drug and alcohol testing provider, or even employ the Hire a Veteran Program or EAP with SAP services to provide adequate support for veterans who may be struggling with a SUD. Also, be sure to maintain confidentiality in all processes, effectively facilitating the veteran’s success.
How do employers verify veteran status?
You can verify an applicant’s veteran status by asking them to provide records of their service, contacting the Defense Manpower Data Center SCRA website, or partnering with a background check provider that can discover their status along with other data.

Does a DD214 show up on a background check?
The Defense Department Form 214 (DD214) will show up on a background check as it provides detailed information on the discharge, separation, or retirement from military service. It will also provide dates of service, any commendations or medals, and the reason for the separation.

A close-up of a questionnaire

Trust a reputable testing provider
Don’t leave the veteran applicant’s status up to chance. Conduct a thorough background check that includes military and civilian information so that you can make an informed decision. Perhaps the best recourse is to partner with one provider of background checks, drug and alcohol testing (including random testing, reasonable suspicion testing, and after-accident testing), and an EAP with SAP services.

ARCpoint Labs offers these services to companies that believe in the benefit of hiring veterans and want to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. We have over 20 years of experience and a national network of thousands of conveniently located labs, even offering on-site and after-hours testing in most areas. We will help ensure compliance and security in your hiring of veterans.

Contact ARCpoint Labs today to speak with one of our experts.

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