The term Veterans’ Preference refers to a federal program that provides qualifying individuals with preference in the federal hiring and retention processes. While the exact qualifying rules are somewhat complex, Veterans’ Preference typically applies to those who are disabled or served on active duty during certain timeframes.
The Veterans’ Preference program was established as part of the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944. The Act provides former military personnel preference with respect to federal hiring and retention of employees. Not all military service qualifies someone for veterans’ preference. Eligibility is based on the dates of active duty, campaign badges, a disability that occurred as a result of military service, and the receipt of an award such as the Purple Heart.
Qualifying veterans must have been discharged under honorable or general conditions. These individuals must also have retired below the rank of major, or its equivalent, unless they are a disabled veteran.
When federal agencies determine the best qualified candidate, they use a numerical ranking system. Through this program, former military personnel may qualify for an additional five or ten points added to their scores as follows:
Five points will be awarded if the individual’s active duty meets any of the following conditions:
- Service occurred in a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized or between April 28, 1952 and July 1, 1955.
- Service was for more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 and before October 15, 1976.
- Service occurred between August 2, 1990 and January 2, 1992.
- Service was for more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, 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.
Former military personnel are eligible for a ten point preference if they meet either of the following:
- They have a service-connected disability.
- They received a Purple Heart.