Defined as any veteran who served in a "war" declared by Congress, in a campaign or on an expedition for which a campaign badge, a service medal, or an expeditionary medal has been awarded.
Guess what? As near as I can tell ... that's me. Proud receipient of the Navy Expeditionary Medal.
The latest Navy and Marine Corps Award Manual (SECNAVINST 1650.1H) specifies that the NEM is awarded "to U.S. Navy service members who have actually landed on foreign territory and engaged in operations against armed opposition, or operated under circumstances deemed to merit special recognition, and for which no service or campaign medal was awarded." I received the NEM after my submarine completed an "independent submarine operation" in 1988, which AFAICT qualified as "circumstances deemed to merit special recognition". (What, specifically, did we do to earn the medal? To the best of my knowledge, that's still classified Top Secret - Funny Code Word.)
Now, I don't claim to be any sort of expert on labor law. But according to the US Department of Labor (http://www.dol.gov/vets/contractor/main.htm), "veterans who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during a war or in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized" is now a "target veteran group" for purposes of the Jobs for Veterans Act. According to Title 41, Part 60-250 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Federal contractors are specifically prohibited from discriminating against members of such groups, and "shall take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified special disabled veterans, veterans of the Vietnam era, recently separated veterans, and other protected veterans at all levels of employment, including the executive level".
So I'm a member of a federally protected class. Who'da thought it?
(Edited to correct year of "independent submarine operation" to 1988. We spent 1986 at the tender mercies of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard...)