HomeVeterans Employment and EducationCreating Your Path to EmploymentFederal Employment: Veteran's Preference and Initiatives

1.4. Federal Employment: Veteran's Preference and Initiatives

A large number of veterans consider federal employment as a first thought during their civilian career search.  Applying for jobs with the federal government takes time and patience.  The majority of positions filled for federal service are done so using USA Jobs.  Veterans – both with and without disabilities – have additional avenues to explore and consider when thinking about employment in the federal sector.  Disabled veterans are highly encouraged to explore and use as many programs for which they are eligible . . . including and especially those created specifically for people with disabilities.


Veterans' Preference gives eligible veterans priority in appointment over many other applicants in federalcivilian employment.  Veterans' Preference does not guarantee veterans a job, and it does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments, and reinstatements. The goal of Veterans' Preference is to provide a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified veterans seeking federal employment, not to place a veteran in every vacant federal job.  It is a provision of preference in initial hiring and protection in reductions in force.

Veterans' Preference can be confusing [the law followed in federal civilian employment can be found in title 5, United States Code, Section 2108 (5 USC 2108)]. Not all veterans are considered veterans for the purpose of federal civilian employment, and not all active duty service qualifies for Veterans' Preference.  Only veterans discharged or released from active duty in the armed forces under honorable conditions are eligible for Veterans' Preference.  This means you must have been discharged under an honorable or general discharge.  If you are a "retired member of the Armed Forces" then you are not included in the definition of preference eligible unless you are a disabled veteran OR you retired below the rank of major or its equivalent.

State and local government employment may also offer a form of Veterans' Preference or priority consideration.  It is recommended that you check with your state or local government careers page for specific information.


As a disabled veteran, there are multiple doors of potential entry to employment with the federal government.  Some of these entryways are veteran-specific and others are disability-specific.  Job-seeking veterans with disabilities are encouraged to seek as many open doors as possible.  Consider pursuing as many hiring authorities and preferences for which you are eligible. 

a. Special Hiring Authorities

The federal government has a series of special hiring authorities for veterans and people with disabilities.  Knowing about these authorities and identifying your eligibility can definitely enhance your job search.  While veterans are not entitled to a job under any of these authorities, they represent a few of many appointing authorities that agencies can use entirely at their discretion.  Veterans' Recruitment Appointment (VRA); Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1998, as amended (VEOA); 30% or More Disabled Veteran; Disabled Veterans Enrolled in a VA Training Program; and Schedule A Appointing Authority.

b. Feds Hire Vets

Feds Hire Vets is the Office of Personnel Management's government-wide veterans employment website.  Established under Executive Order #13518, Feds Hire Vets is a partnership with the Departments of Defense, Labor, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and other federal agencies.  The website offers up-to-date information for veteran job seekers, as well as an agency directory listing the 27 veterans employment program offices responsible for recruitment. 

c. VA for Vets

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched the VA for VETS program in 2012.  VA for Vets facilitates the reintegration, retention, and hiring of veteran employees at the VA – and offers career-search tools for veterans seeking employment at VA, career development services for our existing veterans, and coaching and reintegration support for military servicemembers. 

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