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April 13, 2016

Key Federal Employment Resource for Veterans

Let’s focus on hiring issues for veterans and the federal government. The United States government calls this section of FedsHireVets.gov Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans. With the many conflicting information sites claiming to provide veterans with career assistance and advice, I want to distill some very good information provided to veterans through, yes, our government in the United States. The section on Feds Hire Vets explains some important parts of the veteran hiring process within the federal government but it’s important to encourage veterans to look, read deeper or gain insight into how important and influential these five areas can be as they apply for federal jobs.

The government calls this information, this area Special Hiring Authority for Veterans. The point of this is to focus veterans on identifying your eligibility for veterans. Simply, agencies that hire may use these hiring authorities at their discretion in the application and hiring process.

What does this mean to a veteran? It means that veterans should look for these, what I would call cues in the federal applications so they gain an edge or see friendlies within the job application language. Remember veterans these hiring authors and this language is not an entitlement or an obligation to hire you; it is and shows that you may have an edge in getting hired when you see these or this language embedded in the vacancy announcement (application) and when you see Who May Apply.

Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA)

Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA) is an excepted authority that allows agencies, to appoint eligible veterans without competition. If you:

are in receipt of a campaign badge for service during a war or in a campaign or expedition; OR are a disabled veteran, OR are in receipt of an Armed forces Service Medal for participation in a military operation, OR
are a recently separated veteran (within the last 3 years), AND
separated under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge), you are VRA eligible. You can be appointed under this authority at any grade level up to and including a GS-11 or equivalent. This is an excepted service appointment. After successfully completing 2 years, you will be converted to the competitive service. Veterans’ preference applies when using the VRA authority.

Agencies can also use VRA to fill temporary (not to exceed 1 year) or term (more than 1 year but not to exceed 4 years) positions. If you are employed in a temporary or term position under VRA, you will not be converted to the competitive service after 2 years.

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply under VRA.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” is preferable. If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15Adobe Acrobat Version [152 KB]), “Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference.”

Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1998, as amended (VEOA)

Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1998, as amended (VEOA) is a competitive service appointing authority that can only be used when filling permanent, competitive service positions. It can not be used to fill excepted service positions. It allows veterans to apply to announcements that are only open to so called “status” candidates, which means “current competitive service employees.”

To be eligible for a VEOA appointment, your latest discharge must be issued under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge), AND you must be either:

a preference eligible (defined in title 5 U.S.C. 2108(3)), OR

a veteran who substantially completed 3 or more years of active service.

When agencies recruit from outside their own workforce under merit promotion (internal) procedures, announcements must state VEOA is applicable. As a VEOA eligible you are not subject to geographic area of consideration limitations. When applying under VEOA, you must rate and rank among the best qualified when compared to current employee applicants in order to be considered for appointment. Your veterans’ preference does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments and reinstatements.

Current or former Federal employees meeting VEOA eligibility can apply. However, current employees applying under VEOA are subject to time-in- grade restrictions like any other General Schedule employee.

“Active Service” under VEOA means active duty in a uniformed service and includes full-time training duty, annual training duty, full-time National Guard duty, and attendance, while in the active service, at a school designated as a service school by law or by the Secretary concerned.

“Preference eligible” under VEOA includes those family members entitled to derived preference.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” is preferable. If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15Adobe Acrobat Version [152 KB]), “Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference.”

30% or More Disabled Veteran

30% or More Disabled Veteran allows any veteran with a 30% or more service-connected disability to be non-competitively appointed.

You are eligible if you:

retired from active military service with a service-connected disability rating of 30% or more; OR you have a rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs showing a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more.
This authority can be used to make permanent, temporary (not to exceed 1 year) or term (more than 1 year, but not more than 4) appointments in the competitive service. There is no grade level restriction.

When using this authority to appoint on a permanent basis, you are first placed on a time limited appointment of at least 60 days and then converted to a permanent appointment at management’s discretion. When the authority is used for temporary or term appointments, you will not be converted to a permanent appointment.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” is preferable. If claiming 10 point preference, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15Adobe Acrobat Version [152 KB]), “Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference.”

Disabled Veterans Enrolled in a VA Training Program

Disabled veterans eligible for training under the VA vocational rehabilitation program may enroll for training or work experience at an agency under the terms of an agreement between the agency and VA. While enrolled in the VA program, the veteran is not a Federal employee for most purposes but is a beneficiary of the VA.

Training is tailored to the individual’s needs and goals, so there is no set length. If the training is intended to prepare the individual for eventual appointment in the agency rather than just provide work experience, the agency must ensure that the training will enable the veteran to meet the qualification requirements for the position.

Upon successful completion, the host agency and VA give the veteran a Certificate of Training showing the occupational series and grade level of the position for which trained. The Certificate of Training allows any agency to appoint the veteran noncompetitively under a status quo appointment which may be converted to career or career-conditional at any time.

38 U.S.C. chapter 31; 5 CFR 3.1 and 315.604

Schedule A Appointing Authority

Though not specifically for veterans, the Schedule A authority for people with disabilities, 5 CFR 213.3102(u), is an excepted authority that agencies can use to appoint eligible veterans who have a severe physical, psychological, or intellectual disability. To be eligible, you must:

Show proof of your disability. Documentation may be from any licensed medical professional (e.g., a physician or other medical professional certified by a State, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. Territory to practice medicine), a licensed vocational rehabilitation specialist (i.e., State or private), or any Federal or State agency, or agency of the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory that issues or provides disability benefits;

Your medical documentation should distinguish between disabilities that are temporary, or transient, versus disabilities, which are chronic, permanent, on-going, or unresolved with no end in sight.

The above documentation may be combined in one letter or you can provide it in separate letters.

Agencies can use this authority, at their discretion, to appoint you at any grade level and for any job (time-limited or permanent) for which you qualify. Veterans’ preference applies when agencies hire individuals under this authority. After 2 years of satisfactory service, the agency may convert you, without competition, to the competitive service.

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply under this authority.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member 4 copy of your DD214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” is preferable. If you are claiming 10 point preference as a disabled veteran, you will need to submit a Standard Form (SF-15)PDF Icon[152 KB], “Application for 10-point Veterans’ Preference.”

OPM encourages job-seeking veterans to ask for consideration under as many hiring authorities as they are eligible, in addition to claiming their preference under the competitive examining process (if applicable).

Are you a veteran who needs help with your federal application? There are many ways to apply and many people willing to help – paid or free. Ensure those people helping you understand how important it is to understand and read vacancy announcements with these five areas in mind, to look for this language, the kind of language that may provide you an edge in getting hired.

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* For over 25 years CareerPro Inc. has helped veterans and civilians alike apply for federal jobs, create powerful resumes and navigate the sometimes complex federal application process. If you are a veteran or federal employee in transition or just seeking career advice give us a call at 919.787.2400 or contact us by filling out the form below.

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