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Of Special Interest to Veterans

The federal government, as well as the nation as a whole, recognizes the enormous debt
owed to those who serve in the military services and has always been a leading employer of veterans.

There are several programs designed to provide eligible veterans with special consideration when applying for federal jobs. Unfortunately, many veterans are unaware of what may be available to them. Here's a quick look at several especially helpful programs for qualified veterans in finding federal employment.

Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998

Qualified veterans may apply for any federal agency vacancy announcement that is open to applicants outside the hiring agency's workforce. For example, if an agency is recruiting among all federal employees (i.e. status applicants), qualified veterans who do not have status may apply. The veterans will compete with other eligible applicants for the job under normal merit promotion procedures and no additional veteran's preference will be given. To be eligible you must have three or more years of continous active military service and an honorable discharge or you must be a veteran's preference eligible.

For further information, visit

Veterans Preference

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 nonveterans both in hiring from competitive lists of eligibles 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 direct hire and delegated examining authorities from the U. S. Office of Personnel Management.

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. 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.

Guard and Reserve active duty for training purposes does not qualify for preference.

When applying for Federal jobs, eligible veterans should claim preference on their application or resume. Applicants claiming 10-point preference must complete form SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference.


5-Point 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

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, and Bosnia.

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. 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.

10-Point Preference

Ten points are added to the passing examination score of:

A veteran who served at 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.

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.

Click here for SF 15 Application for 10-Point Veteran's Preference

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 eligibles are listed in order of ratings, augmented by veteran preference, if any. For all other positions, the names of 10-point preference eligibles who have a compensable, service-connected disability of 10 percent or more are placed ahead of the names of all other eligibles on a given register. The names of other 10-point preference eligibles, 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.

Filing Applications After Examinations Have Been Closed

A 10-point preference eligible may file an application at any time for any positions for which a nontemporary appointment has been made from a competitive list of eligibles 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.

Veterans Readjustment Appointment Authority (VRA)

This is a special authority that allows an agency to appoint an eligible veteran to a job without competition. VRA appointments begin as two-year appointments and, when successfully completed, are then converted to permanent appointments. Initial appointment must be at a grade or pay level no higher than GS-11. To be eligible you must have a service-connected disability or have served more than 180 days of active duty after August 4, 1964. Unless you are 30 percent or more disabled, your eligibility to receive a VRA appointment will terminate ten years after your discharge from active duty.

30 Percent or More Disabled Veterans

The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 established a special hiring authority for veterans who are considered to be 30 percent or more disabled as the result of a service-connected injury. Those eligible may be hired non-competitively (at any grade level for which they are qualified) under an appropriate temporary appointment even though the position filled is permanent. At its discretion, the agency may convert the employee to permanent status after a brief period (61 days or longer) of service.

Disabled Veterans Affirmative Action Program

This program is administered by each agency. Its purpose is to encourage the recruitment and advancement of qualified disabled veterans for federal jobs.

To get more information about any of these or other veterans programs, contact the personnel office at the agency where you would like to work and ask for the veterans employment coordinator, or contact the Office of Personnel Management at 202-606-2700 and respond to the menu choices by pressing 1, 2 and then 3.