About Veterans' Preference
Veterans' preference means that, under the Veterans' Employment Opportunities Act (Veterans' Preference Act for short), qualified ex-military members are entitled to receive preferential treatment in hiring for Federal government jobs, including civilian military jobs and homeland security jobs.
Veterans' preference also means that qualified ex-military members are entitled to retention preference during a Federal reduction in force (RIF). In plain English, this means that eligible veterans have a better shot at surviving layoffs than other Federal employees.
Another benefit of veterans' preference entitles qualified ex-military members to apply for Federal job openings that are not open to the general public.
To be eligible for veterans' preference benefits, you must first qualify for five or ten veterans' preference points, which the hiring authority will add to your candidate rating or civil service exam score.
Regardless of the number of points for which you qualify, veterans' preference does not guarantee that you will land a Federal government job. It also does not entitle you to preferential treatment in all employment matters.
Veterans' preference will give you an edge over other candidates applying for the same Federal job, if adding your veterans' preference points makes you rate or score higher than they did; otherwise, it simply levels the playing field.
Veterans' Preference Points
To qualify for five or ten veterans' preference points, you must have separated from the armed forces under honorable conditions (honorable or general discharge).
Among other potential requirements, you must also have served your active duty during certain time periods or military campaigns, unless you're a veteran who has a compensatory service-connected disability. Time periods and military campaigns include (but are not limited to) World War II, the Vietnam era, the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
When you served active duty doesn't matter if you're a veteran who has a compensatory service-connected disability. If you meet all other requirements, then you qualify for the maximum veterans' preference points of ten. Veterans without service-connected disabilities and who meet all other requirements qualify for the minimum of five points.
Qualified spouses, widows, widowers and mothers of deceased or disabled veterans are entitled to ten "derived" veterans' preference points, meaning that they are entitled to preference in hiring and retention as though they too are eligible veterans.
If veterans' preference is appropriate for a Federal job opening, then the job announcement will likely say so. In turn, the job-application form or hiring authority will likely ask you how many veterans' preference points you have. It's a good idea to know beforehand, as the Feds are sticklers for details during the job-application process. (Follow instructions to the letter!)
If you don't yet know how many veterans' preference points you have, if any, then you may find out right now by answering the questions in the Veterans' Preference Advisor, a simple, online gizmo provided by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Registration is not required, so you'll be answering anonymously.
If you're an eligible veteran who reasonably believes that a Federal employer discriminated against you by cheating you out of veterans' preference in hiring, then you may file a complaint with the DOL within 60 days of the alleged violation. If that and your follow-up appeal fail to produce satisfactory results, then you may take your case to court. Consult an appropriate attorney about that.
More About Veterans' Preference
For more information about Federal Veterans' Preference and the point system, refer to the following provided by official government Web sites.
See also the e-VETS Resource Advisor from the DOL, which provides information and resources to assist veterans in entering the job market.
The Obama Administration launched initiatives that created more veterans resources to help former service members transition to civilian careers and land jobs. Additionally, President Obama signed a bill into law that extends tax credits to business that hire unemployed veterans. The law, called the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, also requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the DOL to provide occupational retraining assistance to eligible veterans by July 1, 2012.
State Veterans' Preference
As indicated, veterans' preference discussed here is for Federal government jobs. But several states have similar programs for state government jobs too. To find out if the state in which you work has a veterans' preference program, start by checking with the relevant state labor department, unemployment office or One-Stop Career Center.