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Veterans Outreach

What is Veterans' Preference

In recognition of the sacrifices made by those serving in the Armed Forces, Congress enacted laws to prevent Veterans seeking Federal employment from being penalized because of time spent in military service. By law, Veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified periods or in military campaigns are generally entitled to preference over non-Veterans both in Federal hiring practices and in retention during reductions in force, Preference applies in hiring for many positions within the Federal competitive service, and provides a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified Veterans. Veteransí preference laws do not, however, guarantee Veterans a job, nor do they give Veteransí preference in internal agency actions such as promotion, transfer, reassignment, and reinstatement.

Types of Veterans' Preference

Veterans' Preference gives eligible veterans preference in appointment over many other applicants. Veterans' preference applies, to virtually all new appointments in both the competitive and excepted service. Veterans' preference does not guarantee veterans a job and it does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments and reinstatements.

Veterans' preference can be confusing. The law we follow 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 is qualifying 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" 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.

There are basically two types of preference eligibles, disabled (10 point preference eligible) and non-disabled (5 point preference eligibles).

You are a 5 point preference eligible if your active duty service meets any of the following:

  1. 180 or more consecutive days, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001 and ending on a future date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law as the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom, OR
  2. Between August 2, 1990 and January 2, 1992, OR
  3. 180 or more consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 and before October 15, 1976.
  4. 4. In a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized or between April 28, 1952 and July 1, 1955.

You are a 10 point preference eligible if you served at any time, and you:

  1. have a service connected disability, OR
  2. received a Purple Heart

If you are not sure of your preference eligibility, visit the Department of Labor's Veterans' Preference Advisor.

Now that we have discussed your preference eligibility and the associated points, let's discuss preference groups. Preference eligibles are divided into four basic groups as follows:

  • CPS - Disability rating of 30% or more (10 points)
  • CP - Disability rating of at least 10% but less than 30% (10 points)
  • XP - Disability rating less than 10% (10 points)
  • TP - Preference eligibles with no disability rating (5 points)

NOTE: Disabled veterans receive 10 points regardless of their disability rating.

When agencies use a numerical rating and ranking system to determine the best qualified applicants for a position, an additional 5 or 10 points are added to the numerical score of qualified preference eligible veterans.

When an agency does not use a numerical rating system, preference eligibles who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10 percent or more (CPS, CP) are placed at the top of the highest category on the referral list (except for scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher). XP and TP preference eligibles are placed above non-preference eligibles within their assigned category.

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-15) "Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference."

How Can a Veteran or Employer Determine Eligibility for Veteransí Preference?

The Department of Laborís Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP) and VETS developed an online, interactive system called the Veteransí Preference Advisor to help Veterans understand:

  • Whether or not they are eligible to receive Veteransí preference,
  • The type of preference to which they may be entitled,
  • The benefits associated with the preference, and
  • The steps necessary to file a complaint due to the failure of a Federal Agency to provide those benefits.

The Advisor leads the inquirer through a series of questions to determine eligibility and provides specific information and instructions for filing a complaint. It is important to note that the tool is intended to be a first step and to provide general information, but it does not offer definitive advice regarding an individualís Veteransí preference entitlement. The Veteransí Preference Advisor can be accessed at the Department of Laborís website under elaws Advisors: www.doI.aovIelawstvetsIuetpref/CbOICebm.

Recent Expansion of Veteransí Preference

The Veterans Employment Opportunity Act made Veteransí preference applicable to positions in additional government offices, including the Government Accounting Office, Office of the President, certain legislative and judicial positions, Reduction In Force (RIF) situations, and in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition, the Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 1998 extended Veteransí preference to individuals who served on active duty during the Gulf War who are otherwise eligible, and to participants in Operation Joint Endeavor or Operation Joint Guard in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina who were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM In March 2003, the President signed Executive Order 13289 that established the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Receipt of the Expeditionary Medal qualifies a Veteran for Veteransí preference provided the individual is otherwise eligible.

Contact Information

USDA Forest Service
Albuquerque Service Center
Human Resources Management
4000 Masthead Street NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
(877) 372-7248 (Option 2)