Agencies hiring more veterans, but progress is slow

Obama ordered improvement a year ago

Agencies are hiring more veterans, which means they are making progress toward meeting the goals of an executive order issued by President Barack Obama last November, according to agency heads.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar,  Director John Berry and attended the event.

“Let me be clear about one thing: we are not here today to declare victory and move on” said John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, at an event just before Veterans Day. “The unemployment rate for our men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is appalling to the president and to me. We’ve only begun to move the needle.”

Berry said that in the first nine months of fiscal 2009, 23 percent of new hires were vets; in the same period in fiscal 2010, 25 percent were vets. “There are a lot more skilled and trained veterans out there who we would be lucky to keep in public service” Berry said. “We will not rest until all of them have the opportunity to match up their skills to our jobs, apply, and get the consideration they’ve earned.”

General Services Administration Administrator Martha Johnson said that nearly 20 percent of new hires at her agency in fiscal 2009 were vets and 6.5 percent of those were disabled veterans.

“Our veterans possess skills that are exceptionally useful to our organization, such as law enforcement, mechanical, scientific and administrative abilities,” said Martin Pursley, veterans employment programs manager at the Interior Department. “They also bring vital leadership traits, such as accountability, loyalty, decisiveness and creativity.”

Obama’s order established an interagency Council on Veterans Employment, and most federal departments now have full-time Veterans Employment Program Offices.

 

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