Continue to Serve: Opportunities in the Federal Government

When your military service is complete, it may mean the end of uniforms and deployments, but you can still keep serving our country. The move from the military to federal employment can be a smooth transition, and there are advantages to extending your federal service. And government agencies are working hard to bring veterans on board. They offer various reasons you might expect – you are familiar with national service, etc. But they also understand what so many corporations have long known: Veterans are extremely valuable employees.

It is no secret that there are calls from all over the United States for the federal government to spend less. But even if the overall number of federal employment opportunities were to decrease, veterans would still be in good shape, because federal agencies have been directed to hire as many veterans as they can. Veterans have a decided advantage when it comes to getting a job with the federal government. To learn more about that, visit www.fedshirevets.gov. While veterans have enjoyed different forms of federal hiring preference since the Civil War, the situation is even better now. Thousands of veterans have been hired by federal agencies since November 2009, when President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13518, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, and established a Veterans Employment Initiative.

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are complete, the federal government hired the highest percentage of veterans since the mid-1970’s. Even though the government hired about 32,000 fewer personnel in FY 2013 than in FY 2012, the percentage of new hires who were veterans increased from 28.9 percent to 31.0 percent. The government hired 162,000 new employees in FY 2013, compared with 195,000 in FY 2012. Of those 162,000 new hires, 50,000 were veterans. In FY 2013, the number of veterans onboard was 607,000 of the 2,015,000 total employees, representing 30.1 percent of the work force. In FY 2009, 512,000 of the 1,983,000 employees, or 25.8 percent of the work force, were veterans.

The goal of the President's Veterans Employment Initiative is to help federal agencies identify qualified veterans, clarify the hiring process for veterans seeking employment with the federal government, and help them adjust to the civilian work environment once they are hired. The establishment of Veteran Employment Program Offices in 24 federal agencies has helped veterans identify employment opportunities within the respective federal agencies, provided feedback to veterans about their employment application status, and helped veterans recently employed by these agencies adjust to civilian life and a workplace culture often different from military culture.

In addition, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued a strategy for boosting the employment of veterans within the federal government. The strategy emphasizes training, coordination, marketing, and the inclusion of military spouses in hiring initiatives. Part of the OPM’s strategy is to make sure other agencies know that following veterans’ preference – which gives servicemembers an advantage over other candidates in the hiring process – is critical in meeting a government obligation to veterans.

OTHER INITIATIVES

The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) ensures that veterans are able to compete for government positions that previously may have been available only to existing civil service employees.

The Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA) and 30 Percent or More Disabled Veterans programs allow eligible veterans to fill certain positions without competition.
Click here to learn more about the above initiatives.

The Disabled Veterans Enrolled in VA Training Program allows eligible disabled veterans to receive training or work experience at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Disabled veterans eligible for training under the VA vocational rehabilitation program may enroll for training or work experience at an agency under the terms of an agreement between the agency and VA.

While enrolled in the VA program, the veteran is not a federal employee for most purposes but is a beneficiary of the VA. Training is tailored to the individual's needs and goals, so there is no set length. If the training is intended to prepare the individual for eventual appointment in the agency rather than just provide work experience, the agency must ensure that the training will enable the veteran to meet the qualification requirements for the position.

Upon successful completion, the host agency and VA give the veteran a Certificate of Training showing the occupational series and grade level of the position for which trained. The Certificate of Training allows any agency to appoint the veteran noncompetitively under a status quo appointment which may be converted to career or career-conditional at any time. Click here for more information.

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) is an employment-oriented program that helps veterans with service-connected disabilities. The program helps those veterans prepare for, find, and keep suitable employment. Suitable employment is work that is within the veterans' physical, mental, and emotional capabilities, and which matches their patterns of skills, abilities, and interests. For more information on this program, visit the Veterans Benefits Administration website.

Saturday November 14, 2015

This article appeared in the March-April 2015 issue of Search & Employ Magazine