The Top Federal Programs Hiring Veterans

88th Air Base Wing Airman and Family Readiness Center community specialists confirm a registration at the Transition Summit event at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Shonte Gonzales (right) and Amanda Harrell, 88th Air Base Wing Airman and Family Readiness Center community specialists, confirm Mark Sebastian's registration at the Transition Summit event at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Hope Hotel, April 24, 2018. (Al Bright/U.S. Air Force photo)

The federal government made hiring veterans a priority in 2009 when President Barack 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 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," said 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.

1. Defense

Vets hired: 24,274

The top departments tend to hire the most veterans because of their size and their concern 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.

2. Veterans Affairs

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 for which veterans want to work.

"They want to do things to help other veterans," she said.

3. Social Security Administration

Vets hired: 2,863

Job options here include human resources, administrative support, law enforcement, information technology (IT) and security.

4. 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.

5. 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.

​​The agriculture, transportation and interior departments were also high on the list.

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.

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