As far back as the Civil War, veterans have been granted some degree of preference for appointment to federal jobs both in recognition for their sacrifice and to prevent them from being penalized for their time in service.
Though the regulations have changed over time, many hiring provisions, sometimes referred to as “veteran’s preference,” are still in place that benefit veteran job seekers.
According to a 2015 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 4.3 million veterans, or 20 percent of the total veteran population, have a service-connected disability. The same study found that 36 percent of employed veterans with a disability were employed in the public sector, compared with 20 percent of veterans without a disability and 13 percent of non-veterans.
“Veterans may find government employment rewarding because it meshes well with our military backgrounds,” said DAV National Employment Director Jeff Hall. “There are several advantages veterans have when applying for these jobs called special hiring authorities.”
Hall explained that special hiring authorities are ways hiring agencies can show preference to hire veterans ahead of other job candidates. This allows agencies to take advantage of the unique skills veterans bring to their workforce as fast as possible.
“One of the first that comes to mind is Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA),” Hall said. “VRA allows veterans to be hired without competition if they have a campaign badge; or are a disabled veteran; or are in receipt of an armed forces service medal for participation in a military operation; or have been recently separated from the service within three years, and are separated with an honorable or general discharge.”
Another special hiring authority is called the Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1998 (VEOA).
“VEOA is a little different than VRA because it applies to veterans who are already employed by the hiring agency,” said Hall. “It allows eligible veterans to apply for positions announced under merit promotion procedures when the agency is recruiting from outside its own workforce.”
A third special hiring authority is specifically designed for disabled veterans.
“A veteran is eligible to be non-competitively appointed to a public sector job if they retired from active military service with a service-connected disability rating of 30 percent or more or if they have a rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs showing a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more,” said Hall.
DAV National Headquarters Executive Director Barry Jesinoski said interested veterans should seek out employers with the advantages the special hiring authority brings in mind.
“There is no question veterans have earned the benefits contained within special hiring authorities,” Jesinoski said. “Many were away from home or deployed overseas while their civilian counterparts were moving through the ranks of government. These provisions help level the playing field and allow eligible veterans to compete for these jobs.”
More employment resources are available at jobs.dav.org.