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Rice Law Office Blog

This blog reviews important legal issues including: personal injury, employee compensation, workers compensation, discrimination and wrongful termination.

PTSD and Employment for Veterans Returning Home

PTSD and Employment for Veterans Returning Home

A recent ruling from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has expanded protections to allow for extended recovery for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The decision from the Eleventh Circuit Court means that protections for injury or illness must now include PTSD. Employers are required to accommodate veterans who need extended recovery time for PTSD, reflecting the growing appreciation and recognition for this serious challenge.

The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs estimates that between 11% and 20% of all U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Department of Defense data indicates that 2.5 million men and women were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2013, meaning there are 275,000-500,000 veterans who have struggled with PTSD as a result of the two conflicts. 

Military veterans enjoy certain protections and privileges when it comes to reemployment following a period of military service. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) all enshrine this status in statutory law. 

Under USERRA, an employee returning from a period of uniformed service lasting longer than 180 days has 90 days to apply for reemployment following the completion of their service, at which point the employer must allow the returning employee to resume work.

This window may be extended for up to 2 years if the employee suffered an injury or illness during their service, and the period may be extended even further if the injury makes reporting back to work within the 2 year period “unreasonable or impossible”. The logic here is simple—if a veteran has sustained injuries in the line of the duty, we should allow them sufficient time to recover, and protect their job in the mean time.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Wknight94 under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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