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Updated Veteran's Preference Rules Helps More Vets Find Federal Jobs

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Two laws have prompted the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to update their hiring practices via an interim rule. The change broadens the list of who qualifies for Veteran’s Preference, and gives transitioning veterans greater leeway in finding employment. According to Federal News Radio (FNR), the interim rule is in response to the Hubbard Act and the Veterans Work Opportunity (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act.

Veteran’s Preference is a system in which veterans are given preference for obtaining federal jobs. The qualifications are fairly strict, but it gives veterans a leg up in finding work. The goal of Veteran’s Preference isn’t to fill every vacant government position with a former service member, but to provide veterans a boost when they set their sights on government work.

The Hubbard Act allows more former service members to be included in Veteran’s Preference. The act includes “service members discharged or released from active duty for the reason of sole survivorship,” according to FNR. Sole survivorship is claimed when a service member’s parent or sibling has been killed while serving in the armed forces, thus rendering the service member the only surviving child of their immediate family.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act was signed in by President Barack Obama in 2011. According to this act, active duty service members who expect to be honorably discharged within 120 days should be treated like “veterans, disabled veterans and individuals eligible for preference” by federal organizations. This means that veterans who are roughly four months away from leaving the military on good terms will be covered by the veteran hiring preference.

"A member of the armed forces may start his or her civilian job search prior to discharge or release from active duty and thus will not have a Department of Defense (DD) Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, when applying for Federal jobs," OPM wrote.

While the Hubbard Act helps more veterans qualify for Veteran’s Preference, taking advantage of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act requires forethought and effort well before leaving the military. Four months may seem like a long time, but job searches can take an exceedingly long time.

Although the interim rule was effective December 29th, 2014, comments are still being accepted. Those who wish to comment on the new rule must do so before February 27th, 2015, and may be done through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

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