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The federal government’s hiring process is very different from the private sector’s hiring process. Specifically, when applying for federal jobs, veterans are often eligible to take advantage of hiring preferences and secure employment more quickly. You must meet the following legal eligibility requirements:
- An honorable or general discharge is necessary
- Military retirees at the rank of major, lieutenant commander, or higher are not eligible unless they are disabled
- Guard and reserve personnel on active duty for training purposes do not qualify
Eligible veterans may be appointed to federal positions without competing with the general public and FEMA can hire you without posting a vacancy announcement. Veterans who are eligible for Special Hiring Authorities may be non-competitively hired if they meet the eligibility and qualification requirements for the position. FedsHiresVets.gov has the most up-to-date information on hiring paths into the government.
- Veterans’ Recruitment Appointment (VRA)
- 30 Percent or More Disabled Veterans
- Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998, as amended (VEOA)
- Disabled Veterans Enrolled in a VA Training Program
- Schedule A Hiring Authority for People with Disabilities
There are special hiring authorities designed specifically for veterans. For consideration under the special non-competitive hiring authorities for veterans, send a resume, discharge document (DD214, Member 4), veterans preference document (SF15), and disability documents to email@example.com.
Please make sure you protect your identity by redacting any personally identifiable information (PII) like your social security number or any identifying information.
If you are in need of reasonable accommodations when applying for a position, or going through the interview process at FEMA, please contact FEMA-Reasonable-accommodation@FEMA.dhs.gov.
Competitive Hiring and Veteran’s Preference
Through the competitive process, jobs are advertised to the general public on USAJobs.gov and anyone can apply. Veterans’ Preference awards points to veterans during the competitive application process, providing an advantage in job placement.
Type of Preference
When You Apply for A Federal Job
If you are classified as having a 0-point preference, you are evaluated based on your qualifications only. When applying for a job, you must submit Form DD214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, to document your discharge under honorable or general conditions.
You are eligible for 5-point preference if you served during any of the following:
- During a war From April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955
- For 180 or more consecutive days after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976
- During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through Jan 2, 1992
- For 180 or more consecutive days between September 11, 2001, and the date prescribed by presidential proclamation or by law as the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom
- In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, or between April 28, 1952, and July 1, 1955
To pursue a 5-point preference, you must submit Form DD214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, to document your discharge under honorable or general conditions.
You are eligible for 10-point preference if you served at any time and you have a service-connected disability or received a Purple Heart.
- To pursue 10-point preference, you must submit: Form DD214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, to document your discharge under honorable or general conditions
- Form SF-15, Application for 10-Point Veterans' Preference Letter from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office stating your disability rating
Disabled veterans receive 10-point preference regardless of their disability rating.
Depending on the job you are applying for, you may need to submit the following forms. Read the instructions carefully to determine which ones you will need.
DD214 - Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty: The DD-214 is issued to military members upon separation from active service. It contains information about your dates of military service and separation. As a veteran, you may obtain free copies of your DD Form 214 Report of Separation and other military and medical records through the National Archives. Please visit Request Military Service Records for more information.
SF-15 - Application for 10-point Veteran's Preference: The SF-15 is used by federal agencies and OPM examining offices to adjudicate individuals' claims for veterans' preference.
Note that a letter from the VA that contains the following may be enough instead of a SF-15:
- Dates of service
- Discharge status
- Disability rating
Tips for Military Spouses
The federal government has established an appointing authority for military spouses. While spouses will not receive veteran's preference, they are eligible to be considered for federal employment. Here’s what you need to know.
As a spouse, you could be eligible for employment if you are:
- A spouse of an active duty member of the armed forces
- A spouse of a service member who is 100% disabled due to a service-connected disability and unable to work
- A spouse of a service member killed while on active duty (it does not have to be combat related)
See More Tips for Military Spouses
The Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) makes a willful violation of veterans' preference a Prohibited Personnel Practice. If you are a preference eligible and you believe an agency violated any of your rights under the veterans' preference laws or regulations, you may file a formal complaint with the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Servics (VETS). This is the agency, by law, charged with investigating violations of veterans’ preference in federal employment. If VETS is unable to resolve the complaint within 60 days, you may appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB).
The Uniformed Services Employment and reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) prohibits discrimination in employment, retention, promotion, or any benefit of employment based on your uniformed service. The Department of Labor, through the VETS, aids all persons having USERRA claims.
If you are a disabled veteran and you believe an agency discriminated against you in employment because of your disability, you may file a disability discrimination complaint with the agency in question under regulations administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- FEDSHireVETS is a comprehensive government site for veterans seeking jobs.
- The U.S. Department of Labor has a Veterans' Preference Advisor for examining preferences you might be entitled to for federal jobs.
- The University of Maryland’s Military to Federal Jobs Crosswalk is a tool for translating military occupations into federal jobs.