The federal government made hiring veterans a priority in 2009 when President Obama signed an executive order establishing the Veterans Employment Initiative. The program is meant to promote the hiring of veterans in the executive branch, and to serve as a model for the private sector.
"As one of the nation's leading employers, the federal government is in need of highly skilled individuals to meet agency staffing needs and to support mission objectives," says Hakeem Basheerud-Deen, director of veterans services at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Veterans get a lot of training and development during their military service, and their wide variety of skills and experience—as well as their motivation for public service — can help fulfill federal agencies' staffing needs, he says.
According to the OPM, the executive branch of the federal government increased the percentage of veteran new hires to more than 33% of all hires in fiscal year 2014, up from 31% in fiscal year 2013. If you want to get in on the hiring push, check out this list of the top federal agencies hiring, based on data from fiscal year 2014.
Defense, Vets hired: 24,274. The top departments tend to hire the most veterans due to their size and because they are concerned with military affairs. The Army was the largest hirer with 8,622; the Navy hired 6,563 and the Air Force 4,944. Other defense activities made up the rest of the hires.
Veterans Administration, Vets hired: 17,009. Kathryn Troutman, founder and president of The Resume Place in Baltimore, works with people looking for jobs in the federal government, including veterans. She says that the VA is one of the most popular agencies veterans want to work for. "They want to do things to help other veterans," she says.
Social Security Administration, Vets hired: 2,863. Job options here include human resources, administrative support, law enforcement, IT and security.
Justice, Vets hired: 2,768. This department contains agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and other federal law enforcement.
Department of Homeland Security, Vets hired: 2,646. DHS describes itself as an "ideal employer" for veterans on its website, touting positions such as Transportation Security Officers, Homeland Security Investigators and border patrol agents.
Many veterans seek federal employment out of a passion to continue to serve their country, Basheerud-Deen says. Others are looking for a change in career paths. No matter the reason, when a federal agency hires a veteran, American taxpayers receive a "significant return" on the investment in the training and development of people who have served, Basheerud-Deen says. Most veterans work in administrative positions (44%), followed by technical and professional positions.