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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Reader comments

Wed, Dec 15, 2010 OIF Vet DC

I was hired using Veterans preference after applying to nearly 50 positions. Position after position was cancelled without a selection being made, only to be reopened. During one interview I was asked how I felt about supervising employees who had more years of federal service. I pointed out that my 21 years of military service WAS federal service. Likewise, non-Veteran feds like to point to the number of years they waited to attend leader training. Again, military service IS federal service. I find that too many feds feel Veterans preference is an unfair advantage, but have found that too many career feds have been promoted not because of ability or potential, but simply because of marking time, yet, they don't scream about that. My qualifications: Dual master's degree, internationally-recognized certification in my career field, and 20 years of the world's best leadership training and experience.

Mon, Dec 6, 2010

Many years I tried to get into the va or government positions. But I was turned down far to many to count. Vietnam vets were thought of as being to instable as yet we still are fighting this same prejiduce. I finially got in only to be shunned for training and had to fight my way up the ladder. this still hurts as HR still has no idea what a person can or cannot do. Thanks for at least letting me start on the bottom and keeping me there. At least I can eat and have a roof over my head

Wed, Dec 1, 2010 Washington, DC

Paul, You are so caught up in your own little petty world. How dare you talk like this against a veteran who has laid their life on the line for sorry people like you. You are so lucky to be in a position of authority that you may decide on wheter to hire a vet or not. Do me a favor, go to a foreign hostile country somewhere in the world and see how you will make it back home.

Wed, Nov 17, 2010 Paul

All I'm saying on this is that our hands shouldn't be tied. I'm all for hiring veterans whenever possible but there are many factors to consider when hiring. I am thinking of an instance I was made aware of where a totally unsuitable vet was on the top 3 and there was no way to select someone else. There are many people, vet and otherwise, that may look good on paper but are not appropriate choices for the position. That is why we interview them and perform background checks. It's bad enough using the top-3 system. In the end, we owe it to the taxpayers and the soldiers we protect to only hire the best of the best and that can't be determined with a word count point system. In my experience, veterans usually are the best but NOT always.

Wed, Nov 17, 2010

What about the career federal employee who is looking for a transfer? I can't get a transfer because of the vets! That is not right for a vet - a NON-DRAFTED vet to trump my career. The federal government does not owe another job to thse NON-DRAFTED vets who received and continue to recieve MANY OTHER BENEFITS.

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