Essay Writing Samples

Research Paper on Affirmative Action

Affirmative action policy can be a highly charged issue in contemporary society. The sample research paper, written by a Ultius writer, discusses the role of affirmative action for disabled veterans compared to other special needs groups.

Introduction to affirmative action

The purpose of this paper is to provide an exploration of the impact of affirmative action programs for disabled veterans versus those of non-veterans, affirmative action groups. Specifically, this paper aims to answer the question, “Should disabled veterans get preferential treatment over better qualified candidates who are not disabled veterans?” First, a discussion regarding the background and logic of affirmative action is presented, followed by a comparison of various competing affirmative action programs. Discussion includes an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of these programs in the context of veteran’s lives after military service.This paper concludes with a brief summary and outline of key points.


Affirmative action pertains to the practice of providing special considerations to individuals of minority (or special needs) groups in the areas of educational opportunities, employment and healthcare (Sabbagh, 2011). While this practice exists all over the world, it is particularly prevalent in the United States.

The United States’ affirmative action policy, as a group of social programs, was first implemented in the 1960s as a response to a tremendous uprising of civil rights movements and their resulting non-discriminatory policy changes (Sabbagh, 2011). The stated objective of these new affirmative action polices was to prevent discrimination to minority groups in terms of schooling, hiring decisions or any other critical area of society. Unfortunately, the practice of affirmative action has led to some conflict both within and between various minority and special needs groups.

The Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program (DVAAP)

One notable affirmative action group is that of disabled veterans. The Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program (DVAAP) serves to promote the equal treatment of disabled veterans who have been injured while on duty with the United States Military (ShiveVets, n.d.). This program was implemented to both honor the service of these citizens, as well as ensure that they receive the resources they need to support themselves following their disabilities.

Current United States law mandates that affirmative action programs exist for these veterans, and that respective agencies continually evaluate the success of these programs and report to the Federal Government. Housed within the United States Office of Personnel Management, affirmative action policy was reformed in 2009. During this period, President Obama signed an executive order to provide a more strategic and evidence-based framework for assisting the veterans that have served our country.

While the DVAAP program has experienced remarkable success in finding employment for disabled veterans, matching these veterans’ skills with applicable job offerings, and seeking scholarships and education assistance, this program has not been without controversy.

Comparison of affirmative action programs

One of the most critical factors to consider when analyzing the success of a particular aspect of affirmative action is the advantages offered to various competing minority and special needs groups (Sabbagh, 2011). It is important to understand the inter-related aspects of racism, discrimination, and affirmative action, in terms of veterans’ status and other protected classes, such as racial and/or ethic minorities.

In some cases, the success of one affirmative action program may come at the expense of another. For example, agencies that offer affirmative action services for disabled veterans may have friction with minority ethnic groups or individuals with non-military disabilities. This competition has elicited some controversy in recent years.

One argument suggests that disabled veterans should not receive preferential treatment over better qualified candidates who are not disabled veterans (Oh, Choi, Neville, Anderson, and Landrum-Brown, 2010). Proponents of this view assert that the aim of affirmative action is to promote equality amongst minority and special needs groups who may otherwise experience discrimination. However, placing the needs of one specific affirmative action group over another is contradictory to the aims of the policy and renders itself ineffective.

An opposing argument suggests that disabled veterans should receive preferential treatment over better qualified candidates who are not disabled veterans. Proponents of this view attest that disabled veterans should be granted special consideration not only because of their disabilities, but also because of their service to the nation (Oh et al., 2010). According to the supporters of this argument, disabled veterans represent a special class of citizens that deserve the lifelong support of the federal government.

Ethical perspectives and affirmative action

According to a utilitarian perspective, no rule or regulation is inherently right or wrong (Conway & Gawronski, 2013). Instead, right or wrong is based on the results of the rule and its subsequent impact on society. A utilitariann theorist would suggest that the affirmative action conflict be resolved by examining which decision resulted in the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people.

In contrast, a deontological perspective suggests that actions are inherently associated with ethical norms that apply to all individuals (Conway & Gawronski, 2013). The “rightness” of an act is assessed by its underlying moral or immoral implications. A deontological theorist would aim to resolve the affirmative action conflict by examining the fundamental ethics of each decision, regardless of the potential outcome.

Based on these competing ethical viewpoints, a utilitarian perspective appears to be the most practical approach to resolving the current affirmative action conflict. The most equitable manner in which to make a decision in this case is to examine which alternative provides the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. Despite the fact that this viewpoint may limit the benefits provided to disabled veterans, assessing the inherent morality of a particular view or action is not measurable and prone to its own brand of controversy.

From a utilitarian perspective, the most practical decision seems to be that disabled veterans experience the same level of need as any other affirmative action group, and should not be granted special considerations based on their service to our country. This decision does not support any undue exclusion if disabled veterans, but merely places these individuals on the same plane as minority ethnic groups, women, and other special needs populations.


The purpose of this paper was to provide an exploration regarding affirmative action programs for veterans within the context of other special needs groups in the United States. Specifically, this paper addressed the debate regarding whether disabled veterans deserve special considerations over better qualified candidates from other minority or special needs groups. Based on the evidence above, as well as the competing utilitarian and deontological viewpoints, it was deemed that disabled veterans should not receive special considerations.

Despite their service and their disabilities, a utilitarian perspective asserts that such decisions must be made based on the greatest amount of good offered to the greatest number of people. As a higher number of non-disabled veterans exists, providing special considerations to these individuals would be, in itself, a form of discrimination (against others). A utilitarian perspective appeared to be the more practical and prudent approach to reaching this decision, as a deontological perspective is prone to subjectivity and personal biases regarding ethics and morality (Conway and Gawronski, 2013).


Conway, P., & Gawronski, B. (2013). Deontological and utilitarian inclinations in moral decision making: a process dissociation approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(2), 216-235.

Oh, E., Choi, C.-C., Neville, H. A., Anderson, C. J., & Landrum-Brown, J. (2010). Beliefs about affirmative action: a test of the group self-interest and racism beliefs models. Journal of Diversity in higher Education, 3(3), 163-176.

Sabbagh, D. (2011). Affirmative action: the U.S. experience in comparative perspectives. Daedalus, 140(2), 109-120.

ShireVets (n.d.). Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program (DVAAP). Retrieved from:

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