As we noted in introducing the subject of veterans’ preference for our recent poll, the subject is one that generates strong opinions from readers. The subject mixes patriotism and a nation that wants to thank those that have served in the nation’s military along with the belief by some readers that they have been personally harmed in their career from not having served in the military.
Some readers see veterans preference as a mixture of good and bad. In other words, they do not object to veterans preference being given but would like to have it limited in some way and not apply to a person’s entire career. And some veterans think that veterans preference is ignored in large part by some agency officials.
In the recent FedSmith.com poll on the subject, 63% of readers said that veterans’ preference was enforced in their agency. 19% said it was not and 18% were not sure.
As to whether it is appropriate to give veterans’ preference as a reward for an individual’s willingness to actively serve in the American Armed Forces, 79% think that it is appropriate. 17% think it is not appropriate and 5% were not sure.
And, as to whether readers perceive discrimination in their agency against individuals because of their military service or veterans status, 27% said discrimination was a problem. 66% said there is no discrimination and 7% were not sure.
Most readers support veterans preference being used in their agencies. Here is a sampling of these reader opinions.
A HUD employee from Pennsylvania writes: "I feel that, as long as an individual is qualified for a position, they should receive it. It is good to give jobs to qualified veterans first. They put their lives on the line to defend their country; it is the least their country can do for them."
A work leader from Ft. Lewis, Washington said: "I believe veterans have earned the preferance by serving in the military, and do not view it as discrimination."
A Forest Service employee from Williams, Arizona had this comment: "I believe it is appropriate for the Federal government to give a leg up to veterans, especially today when it is such a small segment of our society that shoulders the burden of protecting it. As a matter of fact I think veterans should get the same consideration in the private sector as well."
A supervisory forester from Montana submitted this thought: "I think it is very appropriate to give and adhere to VETS PREFERENCE! I listen to a number of whiners complain about the preference….but it is free country…want the preference go serve and earn it!"
A contract specialist from Richmond, VA: "They give thier best, America needs to only return the same consideration to them! God Bless our brave men and women and allies!"
A human resources specialist from the Forest Service in Placerville, CA wrote: "It’s the only preference that one can EARN."
An HR specialist from HHS in Rockville, Maryland sees this problem: "Vets should be given more support to get into the right jobs. Selecting officials have been poisoned into thinking vets can not be the best candidate simply because the vet may not currenlty work for the facility. Since HR staff are programed to be ‘service oriented’ to meet selecting official’s desires they see no profit in standing up for the legal rights of the vets. Too, too, bad…"
A different perspective was given by this IRS analyst from Atlanta: "Veterans need some break, when female minority applicants are being given jobs without interviews."
While in the minority, not all readers think that veterans preference is a good idea. Here are some comments from those with this point of view.
An employee from the Social Security Administration in Greenville, SC wrote: "I feel that veterans’ have been compensated for their service and should not receive points for their service to count toward being hired as a civil servant."
A team leader from NASA in Huntsville, Alabama commented: "Most military do not fit the self-imposed culture of NASA. Accountability and responsibility are spoken only at NASA."
A community programs specialist from the Department of Agriculture in Boise, ID had this thought: "As one who was determined to be ‘medically ineligible’ for military service, I feel discriminated against under the veteran preference rules. I am not able to attain veteran status, and yet am also not covered by ADA. I am sure I am not alone in this situation."
An analyst from DoD in Mechanicsburg, PA had this to commentary on veterans preference: "The veterans that assume positions in priviate industry are not given any preference over nonmiitary. The same rule should apply to the Federal hiring process. I see many individuals that would not have qualifed for a position if it had not been for the extra points that moved them up to the top."
A mechanic from the Air Force in Utah has some strong beliefs on the topic: "Giving preference only because of military service in war time does not cut it. Most people don’t remember that a lot of draftees were given the chance to go into the service instead of jail. I’ve worked around several veterans and the general attitude is sickening. I’m better than everyone else, I can’t be fired and I don’t have to do anything."
And a screener from TSA is unhappy: "Veterans are routinely given jobs and promotions regardless of qualifications over non vets in our agency which is part of the job disatisfaction we have. This is WRONG and DISCRIMINATORY!!! "
A human resources advisor from the Forest Service had this opinion: "I agree with awarding preference for those who served in a war or conflict. I do not agree with just giving it to anyone. Secondly, I do not agree with giving them referral for jobs for which they do not qualify."
A Forest Service employee in Quincy, CA has not had a good experience with veterans preference: "One one occasion I was nearly forced to hire a veteran who according to his previous employers was grossly incompetent and a demonstrated safety hazard to those around him. We only got out of having to waste a year on him due to a technicality in his application. It is a disservice to everyone involved to hire veterans on any basis other than their qualification for the job for which they are applying."
Here is a comment from an employee of the USDA in New York City: "Being a 10 point veteran myself and knowing a lot of other veterans, I know first hand about the subtle discrimination that goes on at the Dept. of Agriculture. Being a veteran has cost me promotions, off course I can’t prove it, but I have heard from colleagues about jobs that I have put in for over the years where the selecting authority(ies) had made negative statements about veterans."
A program analyst from GSA in Washington, DC wrote: "If you are a vet and disabled, you can forget about a career at GSA, if you are able to get a job here at all, that is." An historian with DoD has this perspective: "Opposition to Veterans preference comes from 2 sources, 1) left wingers and their union allies and 2) those in favor of their own type of preferences."
Our thanks to the many readers who took the time to participate in this poll and special thanks to those who sent in their opinions on the subject.