Veterans’ preference is controversial in some agencies for a variety of reasons.
What is veterans’ preference?
The preference stems from the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944. It has been included in various parts of Title 5 of the US Code. It provides that veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in our Armed Forces during certain time periods are entitled to preference over others in filling jobs within the federal government. Veterans’ preference also provides more protection for veterans during a reduction in force.
Preference for veterans can apply at various times and in different ways. For a detailed explanation of how this process works, check out the information from the Office of Personnel Management.
This subject caught our eye in a recent article published by FedSmith.com on a case that involved the subject of veterans preference (See "Attorney-Applicant Loses Job–Wins in Court")
Comments from readers often were along the lines of this statement from a reader who identified himself as an attorney with the Department of Defense: "Until I personally experienced it, I had not thought that the rights Congress determined veterans deserved for their service would somehow be used against them."
Another reader from the Department of Veterans Affairs wrote: "This discrimination is something I have faced personally yet have had no concrete way to prove it…"
Another reader from the Department of Defense took a different view: "Pardon my stupidity but why would being a vet bring on discrimination?"
Another perspective from an employee at the Department of Agriculture: "I haven’t met anyone at USDA who thinks that having served in uniform should count."
There is obviously a difference in perspective among those working for the federal government as to whether veterans’ perference is generally applied as was intended by Congress.
With the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can anticipate that this issue may be heating up again.
What is your view and your experience? Is veterans preference properly applied in federal agencies?