This is follow-up on our previous article, "Why is any program needed to give Disabled Vets a chance to work for Congress?"
Suffice it to say that article generated not only a lot of attention but quite a few comments some decent, a few half decent, and well SOME. That said, we’ve obviously hit another nerve in the Veterans’ and Military Family community telling us that Veterans Preference in hiring is something worthwhile talking about. By this we mean the myths and realities. The myth we want to head off before it gets started is that the mainstream VSOs have largely controlled access to the VA system, just take a close look at the VA Claims system who has traditionally controlled it, and who opposes any legal reform or Veterans access to legal advice be it free, pro bono to start, inexpensive or expensive. It beats getting no compensation at all due to Veterans Service Officers or NSOs being overwhelmed or politically oriented one way or another.
That said, it’s been brought to my attention that VT already has a half decent relationship with corporate America per se when it comes to hiring Veterans if not Veterans Preference. This tells me that the collective we at VT have not done enough to educated Veterans about how to get Veterans Preference and access to federal jobs without having to go through the Democratic Party, Republican Party, or some mainstream VSO that now wants to claim and control access to the federal workforce. In two simple words "NO WAY" we are going to allow any VSO to get away with that without teaching YOU the Veteran how to sidetrack them. The only way that VSOs could gain total control of access to federal jobs and Veterans Preference would be for Congress to change the federal codes giving VSOs that authority, and this America’s Veterans cannot allow that is why VT is going to add how to get a federal job to the focus of our corporate efforts to get you a job.
VT has already had two on-going long-term relationships with companies seeking qualified Veterans for employment and they are:
JUST SELECT THE LINKS ABOVE FOR JOB
We obviously need to do a much better job spreading the word about Veterans Preference in Federal Hiring regardless if you are a Old War Horse or Young Trooper fresh from the sandbox.
With the exception of being recruited to work at the Veterans Administration way back in 1973, the last two federal positions I held were due to Reinstatement rights and Veterans Preference. However, how I got those jobs was by being familiar with the USAJOBS website [links above] of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management that oversees all federal hiring practices. This is what OPM has to say about Veterans Preference despite the imperfections of the program over the years.
Since the time of the Civil War, Veterans of the Armed Forces have been given some degree of preference in appointments to Federal jobs. Recognizing that sacrifices are made by those serving in the Armed Forces, Congress enacted laws to prevent veterans seeking Federal employment from being penalized because of the time spent in military service. By law, veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over non-veterans both in hiring from competitive lists of eligible’s and in retention during reductions in force.
Preference does not have as its goal the placement of a veteran in every vacant Federal job; this would be incompatible with the merit principle of public employment. Nor does it apply to promotions or other in-service actions. However, preference does provide a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified veterans seeking Federal employment. Preference applies in hiring from civil service examinations, for most excepted service jobs, and when agencies make temporary appointments or use delegated examining authorities from the U. S. Office of Personnel Management.
For those who do not understand the difference between excepted federal service and temporary appoints or special hiring programs, we will discuss this in a later article from information provided by the VA.
General Requirements for Preference
To be entitled to preference, a Veteran must meet the eligibility requirements in section 2108 of title 5, United States Code. We talked about this in our first article, but as refresher this means that:
- An honorable or general discharge is necessary.
- Military retirees at the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible for preference unless they are disabled veterans. [One obviously does not have to be 100% VA rated to be considered a Disabled Veteran more on that later]
- Guard and Reserve active duty for training purposes does not qualify for preference. [Given the overuse and abuse of the National Guard this needs to be changed by Congress to allow Guard members that same level of preference as their regular military counterparts, because Guard and Reserve members share in the same sacrifices].
- When applying for Federal jobs, eligible veterans should claim preference on their application or resume. [In fact, there is a section of the federal job application that deals specifically with VETERANS PREFERENCE.]
- Applicants claiming 10-point preference must complete form SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference. The SF-15 is available online at: http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/SF15.pdf .
TYPES OF PREFERENCE:
Five points are added to the passing examination score of a veteran who served:
- During the period December 7, 1941, to July 1, 1955; or
- For more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; or
- For more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on the date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or by law as the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom; or
- During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990 through January 2, 1992; or
- In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, including El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Southwest Asia, Bosnia, and the Global War on Terrorism.
Medal holders and Gulf War veterans who enlisted after September 7, 1980, or entered on active duty on or after October 14, 1982, must have served continuously for 24 months or the full period called or ordered to active duty, however the service requirement does not apply to veterans with compensable service-connected disabilities, or to veterans separated for disability in the line of duty, or for hardship.
Ten points are added to the passing examination score of:
- A veteran who served any time and who (1) has a present service-connected disability or (2) is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the Department of Veterans Affairs. Individuals who received a Purple Heart qualify as disabled veterans regardless what VA rating they have.
- An unmarried spouse of certain deceased veterans, a spouse of a veteran unable to work because of a service-connected disability, and
- A mother of a veteran who died in service or who is permanently and totally disabled.
PREFERENCE IN EXAMINATION
Veterans meeting the criteria for preference and who are found eligible (achieve a score of 70 or higher either by a written examination or an evaluation of their experience and education) have 5 or 10 points added to their numerical ratings depending on the nature of their preference. For scientific and professional positions in grade GS-9 or higher, names of all eligible’s are listed in order of ratings, augmented by veteran preference, if any. For all other positions, the names of 10-point preference eligible’s who have a compensable, service-connected disability of 10 percent or more are placed ahead of the names of all other eligible’s on a given register. The names of other 10-point preference eligible’s, 5-point preference eligibles, and non-veterans are listed in order of their numerical ratings.
Entitlement to veterans’ preference does not guarantee a job. There are many ways an agency can fill a vacancy other than by appointment from a list of eligibles. [Now someone may try to explain to us that this is what Congress and the DAV (among other VSOs) are doing or endorsing, however the legal problem with this is VSO control over access to the selection process. This would be grounds for an OPM challenge through the Office of Special Council under Improper Personnel Practices. Simply put there’s nothing in federal code nor OPM regulations that grant any Veterans Service Organization the right or privilege to screen federal applicants for employment regardless if they are Veterans or not].
FILING APPLICATIONS AFTER EXAMINATIONS HAVE CLOSED
A 10-point preference eligible may file an application at any time for any positions for which a non-temporary appointment has been made from a competitive list of eligible’s within the past 3 years. In addition, a person who is unable to file for an open competitive examination because of military service may file after the closing date. In either of the above situations, the veteran should contact the agency that announced the position for further information. What we can do in the case of vacancies on Congressional staffs is to track down when these become available and let qualifying Veterans know that you can apply directly through OPM not some VSO.
POSITIONS FOR PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES ONLY
Certain examinations are open only to VETERANs preference eligible’s as long as such applicants are available. These Wage level employees or W1, W2, W3, and so on such as custodian, guard, elevator operator and messenger. You see within the civil service we have a pecking order broken down by white collar and blue collar workers not to mention management and employee ratings. Most civil service or GS ratings GS-7 and above are considered officers, GS5 is considered entry level with a college degree, and of course there are GS2,3, and 4 jobs where one can work their way up to GS-5. This was the route I took when I worked for the VA during the early 1970s, took a leave of absence for military service, and then was reinstated at the GS-9 level upon military retirement, eventually promoted to GS12, skipping GS-13 by accepting a GS-14 position at GS-13 pay rate (an automatic promotion with time).
SPECIAL COMPLAINT PROCEDURES FOR VETERANS
Veterans who believe that they have not been accorded the preference to which they are entitled may file a complaint with the U. S. Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS). [Veterans must pay close attention that this is one aspect of being a Veteran that is not controlled by the VA, and certainly is not controlled by any VSO – the Department of Labor STILL handles claims and appeals against unfair hiring practices].
The Department of Labor’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy and Veterans’ Employment and Training Service developed an "expert system" to help veterans receive the preferences to which they are entitled. Two versions of this system are currently available, both of which, help the veterans determine the type of preference to which they are entitled, the benefits associated with the preference and the steps necessary to file a complaint due to the failure of a Federal Agency to provide those benefits. The Internet address for the veterans’ preference program is http://www.dol.gov/elaws/vetspref.htm. (State Employment Service Offices have veteran representatives available to assist veterans in gaining access to this information.)
DISABLED VETERANS AND OTHER VETERAN OPPORTUNITIES
Any disabled veteran can contact the Department of Veterans Affairs, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Offices for information on veterans’ benefits and related employment services. Certain veterans may also be considered under special hiring programs for disabled veterans with disability ratings of 30% or more or Vietnam Era Veteran Readjustment Act opportunities. Federal agencies have the authority, by law, to give noncompetitive appointments to any veteran who has a service-connected disability of 30% or more. Like the VRA, this authority is discretionary with the agency.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
To be eligible, you must be a disabled veteran who has a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more. The disability must be officially documented by the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
GRADE LEVEL OF JOBS THAT CAN BE FILLED
This authority covers all grade levels and occupations.
REASONABLE WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATIONS
Sometimes it may be necessary or advisable for Federal hiring officials to make "a reasonable workplace accommodation," if requested, in either the duties of the job, or where and how job tasks are performed. The Department of Defense (DoD) for example established Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) to eliminate employment barriers for employees with disabilities.
CAP serves as the government’s centrally funded program to provide assistive technology and services free of charge to Federal agencies that have a partnership agreement with CAP. CAP provides accommodations to individuals who are blind, have low vision, are deaf, hard of hearing, or have dexterity, communication, cognitive, or learning disability.
Examples of workplace reasonable accommodation include:
- Providing interpreters, readers, or other personal assistance.
- Modifying job duties.
- Restructuring work sites.
- Providing flexible work schedules or work sites.
- Obtaining accessible technology or other workplace adaptive equipment.
Such forms of accommodation make it easier to successfully perform the duties of the position. CAP supports Federal employees throughout the employment lifecycle, including; recruitment, placement, promotion, and retention of people with disabilities. In an effort to make the Federal government a model employer for people with disabilities, it is important that you contact CAP to work together to provide real solutions for real needs.
Additional information on Veterans’ Preference is located at http://www.opm.gov/veterans/index.asp
AS OF: 08/03/2006
VETERANS’ PREFERENCE can be printed as it appears on your browser.
It also can be printed as an exact replica of the official publication (ei-03VeteransPreference.pdf). Download the file by clicking on the .pdf file name and follow print help instructions below.
An exact replica of the SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference (SF15.PDF) can be printed. Download the file by clicking on the .pdf file name and follow the print help instructions below.
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner.
My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me.
Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000.
I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house.
I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.