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Facts about veteran unemployment

By Dennis Birchall Veterans Service Officer

The Budget Control Act of 2011 mandated a cut of $487 billion from the Department of Defense (DOD) over the period of a decade. In response, the military services began downsizing to reduce their manpower costs - a big portion of military budgets. Over this 10-year period, large numbers of soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen are being released from military service into the civilian workforce.
Despite this forced reduction and the economy's poor performance, the 2015 average unemployment rate for veterans of all ages averaged 4.6 percent, and the average for post-9-11 veterans was 5.8 percent. These represent the lowest averages for veteran unemployment since 2008. Nationally, the unemployment rate in 2015 averaged 5 percent.
Veterans should know that there are special hiring authorities that government agencies have the discretion to use to hire veterans. Knowing about these authorities and identifying your eligibility to these government agencies will enhance your job search. Veterans should check vacancy announcements on USAJOBS at Vacancies should clearly state "Who May Apply."
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, which means an honorable or general discharge.
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 two 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 one year; or term, more than one year but not to exceed four years, positions. If you are employed in a temporary or term position under VRA, you will not be converted to the competitive service after two years.
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 cannot 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, and you must be either:
• a preference eligible as defined in title 5 U.S.C. 2108(3), or
• a veteran who substantially completed three or more years of active service.
When agencies recruit from outside their own workforce under merit promotion, e.g., 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. "Preference eligible" under VEOA includes those family members entitled to derived preference.
Thirty Percent or More Disabled Veteran allows any veteran with a 30 percent 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 percent or more; or
• you have a rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs showing a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more.
This authority can be used to make permanent; temporary, not to exceed one year; or term, more than one year, but not more than four, appointments in the competitive service. There is no grade level restriction.
Additional information on these and other Veteran hiring preferences can be found at or, you can contact Birchall at the Bandera County Veterans Service Office by calling 830-460-1643 or emailing
You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member four 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 [152 KB]), "Application for 10-point Veterans' Preference."