Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans

Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans are just that…designed for veterans. Knowing about these authorities and identifying your eligibility will enhance your job search. These special authorities represent a few of many appointing authorities that agencies can use entirely at their discretion. Veterans are not entitled to appointment under any of these authorities. Check the vacancy announcements, which should clearly state “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.

Have a certification of job readiness. Certification of job readiness (i.e., that you are likely to perform the duties of the job you wish to perform despite the presence of your disability) 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.

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.”

Employers Who Hire Veterans Get Tax Breaks

Employers Who Hire Veterans Get Tax Breaks

By Blake Christian, CPA, MBT and Chuck Swenson, CPA, PHD

Much is being written and debated regarding getting our troops back home as quickly and safely as possible.  Regardless of your political leanings, or specific timetable for the troops to return, we can all agree that once these brave men and women return home, we owe them the opportunity to find good jobs and assist them in starting or resuming their careers.

While business owners should make every effort to assist these returning veterans by giving them jobs, there are a number of federal and state tax incentives that should provide an added reason to give them top priority in the job market.

Currently, 26 states offer partial, or total exclusions, from state-level taxes for combat and/or other military compensation paid to troops/reserves.  The five states offering outright tax exemption for military pay include:  Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Arizona and Tennessee.  Certain federal changes over the past few years also allow more flexibility for the military in funding IRA’s and claiming the Child Care Credit.

Federal tax benefits for hiring many veterans are available to business owners in any state.  The federal benefits are available under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) Program.  There is up to a $2400 credit if:

  • A veteran who is a member of a family that has received Food Stamps for at least 3 consecutive months in the 15 months prior to the date of hire; or
  • A person with disability who is participating in a vocational rehabilitation program through US Veteran’s Administration.

There is also a WOTC credit of up to $4800 for veterans entitled to compensation for a service-connected disability who:

  • were hired within 1 year of having been discharged, or released from activity duty,    OR
  • who has been unemployed for any 6 of the last 12 months

Employers hiring multiple WOTC qualified employees can make a significant dent in their federal income taxes.  These benefits are explained and claimed on IRS Form 5884.

In addition to the federal WOTC program, 39 states, including California, have state-sponsored Enterprise Zone Programs.  A few of these state programs allow employers to claim credits for a portion of employee wages paid to veterans.  For example, California has a very large veteran population, and their state Enterprise Zone Program entitles employers that hire Vietnam-era veterans, or men and women who have been in the Armed Services/Reserves in the last 48 months, to claim up to 50% of the first $22,600 of W-2 wages as a tax credit during the first 12-month employment period.  Provided the employee continues employment, a 40%, 30%, 20% and 10% credit is allowed for years two through five, resulting in a cumulative credit of over $35,000 over the five-year employment period (some California EZ websites have not been updated and they erroneously list a different amount).  Illinois and Arizona also allow credits for hiring veterans; however, the dollar amounts are only in the hundreds of dollars per employee.

While the programs vary from state to state, most of these credit programs also allow employer-level credits for employees (including veterans) who live in specified census tracts with higher than average poverty rates, were unemployed at some point prior to being hired, or if they were receiving some form of government assistance (e.g., food stamps, welfare, etc.) at the time of hire.

While the federal WOTC program will entitle businesses located in any region to benefit from hiring certain veterans, those states with Enterprise Programs that provide credits for hiring veterans also generally require the business that hires the veteran (or other “qualified” employee) to be located in specified incentive Zones.

Other federal and state benefits, including training funds, tuition reductions, and the aforementioned military pay exemptions, are also available in many states.

Other incentives which may benefit veterans include:

  • Federal Welfare-to-Work (WtW) Hiring Credit-Up to $8,500 over a two-year employment period if the employee was receiving welfare benefits prior to finding employment.
  • Mentor-Protégé Program-Allows certain government contractors reimbursements for training/incidental costs associated with training physically challenged veterans.

The process for documenting these benefits is fairly straightforward.  Generally, the CPA or taxpayer simply:

    1. Confirms that their business location is located in a specified federal or state incentive Zone.
    2. Confirms that certain employees working at the location either live in specified areas or meet other “qualification” criteria (e.g., veteran, ex-offender, previously unemployed, etc.).
    3. The CPA or taxpayer then calculates the credit that is generally a percentage of W-2 wages (with an overall cap), a per-employee credit, or based on the number of months worked.
    4. The federal or state tax forms (generally one or two simple pages) are then completed.

Systems can be set up to allow the employer to pre-screen the employees before they are hired in order to streamline the documentation process and maximize the hiring credits.

All of the above-referenced credits result in permanent tax benefits and can have a dramatic impact on a taxpayer’s tax burden.  While the credits cannot generally eliminate Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), certain programs allow full or partial AMT offset, and unused credits can generally be carried over for five or more years for federal purposes and, in some states, the credits never expire.

These business hiring credits and the resulting tax savings result in enhanced cash flow, lower labor costs, lower after-tax capital expenditures, and enhanced business valuations.  Amended returns for three years or more are allowed for federal purposes, and certain states also allow amended return refunds-which can average over $100,000 in many cases.

Ultimately, by claiming these tax incentives, the business owners are rewarded for their hiring practices and are often much more competitive in the marketplace.  The long-term impact of the business owners’ actions also generally improves the lives of the employees, as well as the communities in which the business operates.

Once business owners and their CPAs understand the financial and social impact of these programs, they do tend to alter their hiring practices and also tend to expand their facilities and workforce within the various federal and state incentive zones.

Top tech firms join push to hire veterans

Computerworld – Cisco, AT&T, Verizon and EMC have joined seven other major corporations that have jointly pledged to hire 100,000 veterans and military personnel that end active duty by the end of 2020.

JPMorgan Chase is leading so-called “100,000 Jobs Mission.” The high tech firms involved note that technical skills learned and used in the military could easily benefit them.

“For decades, we have aggressively recruited military talent from both enlisted and officer ranks,” said AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel. “The technical skills and leadership experience gained in the military transfer well to our company and culture.”

Siegel said AT&T was proud to join the other employers “including our colleagues at [competitor] Verizon. This has nothing to do with the daily thrust and parry of competition in telecom.”

JP Morgan Chase hopes to add more partners and increase the targeted number of jobs offered to military veterans. Unemployment in the U.S. currently stands at 8.9% overall, but at 9.2% for veterans. The figure rises to 12.5% for vets leaving the military today, according to a statement from JP Morgan Chase.

The group has committed to hire 20,000 of the 100,000 by the end of 2012.

“Not only is this the right thing to do for veterans, but all of the companies in the 100,000 Jobs Mission recognize it’s a great thing to do for our businesses,” said Frank Bisignano, chief administrative officer at JP Morgan Chase in a statement. To apply for a job at JP Morgan Chase or post a resume, applicants should go to www.chasemilitary.com,

JPMorgan Chase, Cisco, AT&T, Verizon and EMC are so far joined by Cushman & Wakefield, Iron Mountain, Modis, NCR and Universal Health Services in the project.

Qualified Workforce? Hire a Veteran

We’ve been spreading this message for years now and will continue to do so until every employer everywhere knows it to be true. No matter how often we repeat the phrase, some still hesitate to extend their recruitment efforts to this vast pool of talent. Why? Hard to say. The good news is that the U.S. Department of Labor has seen the need to link employers to vets in a way that maximizes the returns that both sides receive. What is making it successful? Participation by major companies, corporations and labor organizations. To us, these are matches made in heaven.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) is developing unique programs to link transitioning military personnel with job vacancies in fields that need highly skilled and credentialed workers. By partnering with the private sector employers and unions, and by taking advantage of previously established federal/state linkages, these public-private programs create win-win situations. Veterans benefit by acquiring the skills and credentials necessary for obtaining jobs that will provide them and their families with economic security. Employers gain the opportunity to draw upon a pool of dedicated, hardworking, skilled individuals.

What follows is a description of some of the programs that have been established. Employers or others interested in learning more about these programs or in initiating similar programs should contact the State Director of Veterans’ Employment and Training in their State.

CWA’s Military-to-Work Program – Through a grant from VETS, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), one of the nation’s largest labor unions, has created the Military-to-Work pilot program. The program, begun in early 1998, is designed to move transitioning military personnel interested in networking careers into jobs in this field. The program offers on-line assessment services, training, and placement services. In recent months, Cisco Systems, a worldwide leader in networking for the Internet has joined CWA in this initiative.

Microsoft Skills IT Career Initiative and Veterans Program – VETS has also created a public-private partnership with the software giant, Microsoft Corporation. Positioned at the forefront of the information revolution, Microsoft executives realized the need to play a significant role in developing talent for future employment in this field. To help foster information industry knowledge and skills, they created the Microsoft IT Career Initiative program that brings together certified trainers and financial assistance organizations. The program is designed to make it easier for individuals to train in and become certified in Microsoft product groups. Recognizing that former military personnel are highly disciplined and dedicated individuals who can be a valuable asset to the high-tech industry, Microsoft has worked with VETS to expand this program to specifically target transitioning military personnel and veterans interested in the information technology field.

PowerComm - VETS is also working to help separating military personnel who have served in combat arms. VETS recently awarded the PowerComm Foundation in Boston a grant for newly separated veterans, older veterans and a few homeless veterans to receive training at an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) training center. Program participants will graduate with nationally recognized IBEW certification in fields such as electrician, telecommunications installer and journeyman lineman.

Airborne Express – Through a VETS state pilot program aimed at improving the ability of transitioning military personnel to become credentialed, Airborne Express has offered to sponsor aircraft maintenance training for individuals leaving the military. While many transitioning veterans in the aircraft maintenance field do not meet all of the requirements for a FAA license, most can meet the requirements with some minimal additional training.

Airborne Express, which is experiencing a shortage of FAA licensed airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanics in Ohio, contacted the VETS state pilot coordinator to consider how the company might tap into transitioning military personnel to fill job vacancies. As a result of this, an FAA-approved aircraft mechanics school has offered a 300 hour refresher course for veterans with a background in A&P. The course fee of $1,700 is much less than the 18-month full course, which costs $8,500. As the veterans take the refresher course, Airborne Express will employ them as laborers, and offer tuition assistance. Upon passing the FAA exam, Airborne Express will promote the veterans to A&P mechanics.

Capitalizing on Federal/State Partnerships: VETS ProVet Pilot Program – Another VETS program that is built on a strong partnership, is the Promoting Re-employment Opportunities for Veterans (ProVet) program. ProVet is an employer-focused enhancement of the Transition Assistance Program, a program administered jointly by the US Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Labor to ease the transition from military to civilian life. ProVet has been specifically designed to address the challenges of today’s labor market by placing separating service members into available jobs in targeted industries with a recognized labor shortage.

Veterans’ Skills and Attributes
Today’s veterans are extremely well trained, highly motivated, and well educated — probably more so than most civilian, private sector employers realize.

Transferable Skills
Veterans have sophisticated and up-to-date work experience in occupational specialties which are directly transferable to the civilian economy. Some examples are:

• Accounting
• Computers
• Construction
• Education
• Electronics
• Engineering
• Financial administration
• Foreign languages
• Law enforcement

Most Popular Career Fields Sought by Transitioning Military Personnel
The top career fields sought by enlisted transitioning servicemembers were:

1. Police Patrol Officers
2. Correction Officers and Jailers
3. Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
4. Personnel, Training, and Labor Relations Managers
5. Administrative Services Managers
6. Electronics Repairers, Commercial and Industrial Equipment
7. Computer Support Specialists
8. All Other Communications Equipment Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
9. All Other Electrical and Electronic Equipment Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
10. United States Marshals
11. Stock Clerks – Stockroom, Warehouse or Storage Yard
12. Other Protective Service Workers
13. Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians and Technologists
14. Communications, Transportation, and Utilities Operations Managers
15. Aircraft Mechanics
16. Guards and Watch Guards
17. Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerks
18. Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists
19. First-Line Supervisors and Managers/Supervisors – Clerical and Administrative Support Workers
20. Fish and Game Wardens

Well Educated
The military has traditionally encouraged its servicemembers to take advantage of continuing education programs. Indeed, over 95% of our military officers possess baccalaureate degrees, and thirty-five percent have earned a masters degree or higher. A significant number of noncommissioned officers (NCOs) have earned their associates’ or bachelor’s degrees.
Indeed, today’s new veterans will have spent 1/4 of their military careers as students or instructors in their various specialties.

Healthy and Drug Free
Strong programs to maintain the health of servicemembers are another regular feature of military service. Potential employers will generally find emerging veterans to be in excellent health. Thank to a rigorous prevention and detection program, drug abuse by servicemembers is almost nonexistent.

Conscientious and Hard Working
Potential employers will also benefit from the outstanding work ethic that military service instills. Servicemembers are taught early on to pay meticulous attention to detail. Follow up, persistence, and pride in doing one’s very best, are all hallmarks found in the military. These emerging new veterans know how to set priorities, how to work under pressure, how to function as part of a team, and how to exercise initiative.

As future civilian employees, transitioning military personnel have the education, training, experiences, and personal characteristics that can easily make them invaluable to employers in today’s competitive labor market.

Tapping the Talent
Employers or others interested in learning more about hiring transitioning servicemembers and veterans should contact the State Director of Veterans’ Employment and Training in their state. In partnership with two state employment service offices, VETS has established ProVet as a pilot program. The two states and their targeted industries are:

North Carolina – industrial equipment, electronic and transportation manufacturing; and
Tennessee – electronic and computer equipment maintenance.

Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Veteran

1.  Accelerated Learning Curve
Veterans have the proven ability to learn new skills and concepts. In addition, they can enter your workforce with identifiable and transferable skills, proven in real world situations. This background can enhance your organization’s productivity.

2.  Leadership
The military trains people to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation and inspiration. Veterans understand the practical ways to manage behaviors for results, even in the most trying circumstances. They also know the dynamics of leadership as part of both hierarchical and peer structures. …..    

3.  Teamwork
Veterans understand how genuine teamwork grows out of a responsibility to one’s colleagues. Military duties involve a blend of individual and group productivity. They also necessitate a perception of how groups of all sizes relate to each other and an overarching objective.

4.  Diversity and Inclusion in Action
Veterans have learned to work side by side with individuals regardless of diverse race, gender, geographic origin, ethnic background, religion and economic status as well as mental, physical and attitudinal capabilities. They have the sensitivity to cooperate with many different types of individuals.

5.  Efficient performance under pressure
Veterans understand the rigors of tight schedules and limited resources. They have developed the capacity to know how to accomplish priorities on time, in spite of tremendous stress. They know the critical importance of staying with a task until it is done right.

6.  Respect for procedures
Veterans have gained a unique perspective on the value of accountability. They can grasp their place within an organizational framework, becoming responsible for subordinates’ actions to higher supervisory levels. They know how policies and procedures enable an organization to exist.

7.  Technology and globalization
Because of their experiences in the service, veterans are usually aware of international and technical trends pertinent to business and industry. They can bring the kind of global outlook and technological savvy that all enterprises of any size need to succeed.

8.  Integrity
Veterans know what it means to do “an honest day’s work.” Prospective employers can take advantage of a track record of integrity, often including security clearances. This integrity translates into qualities of sincerity and trustworthiness.

9.  Conscious of health and safety standards
Thanks to extensive training, veterans are aware of health and safety protocols both for themselves and the welfare of others. Individually, they represent a drug-free workforce that is cognizant of maintaining personal health and fitness. On a company level, their awareness and conscientiousness translate into protection of employees, property and materials.

10. Triumph over adversity

In addition to dealing positively with the typical issues of personal maturity, veterans have frequently triumphed over great adversity. They likely have proven their mettle in mission critical situations demanding endurance, stamina and flexibility. They may have overcome personal disabilities through strengths and determination.