Civilian Careers : Veterans

Special Hiring Authorities for Veterans are just that … designed for veterans. Knowing about these authorities and identifying your eligibility will enhance your job search. These special authorities represent a few of many appointing authorities that agencies can use entirely at their discretion. Veterans are not entitled to appointment under any of these authorities. Check the vacancy announcements, which should clearly state "Who May Apply."

Veterans' Recruitment Appointment (VRA) is an excepted authority that allows agencies, to appoint eligible veterans without competition. If you: 

  • are in receipt of a campaign badge for service during a war or in a campaign or expedition; OR
  • are a disabled veteran, OR
  • are in receipt of an Armed forces Service Medal for participation in a military operation, OR
  • are a recently separated veteran (within the last 3 years), AND
  • separated under honorable conditions (this means an honorable or general discharge), you are VRA eligible.

You can be appointed under this authority at any grade level up to and including a GS-11 or equivalent. This is an excepted service appointment. After successfully completing 2 years, you will be converted to the competitive service. Veterans' preference applies when using the VRA authority. 

Agencies can also use VRA to fill temporary (not to exceed 1 year) or term (more than 1 year but not to exceed 4 years) positions. If you are employed in a temporary or term position under VRA, you will not be converted to the competitive service after 2 years. 

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply under VRA.

Veterans' Preference gives eligible veterans preference in appointment over many other applicants. Veterans' preference applies, to virtually all new appointments in both the competitive and excepted service. Veterans' preference does not guarantee veterans a job and it does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments and reinstatements.

Veterans' preference can be confusing. The law we follow in Federal civilian employment can be found in title 5, United States Code, Section 2108 ( 5 USC 2108). Not all veterans are considered veterans for the purpose of Federal civilian employment, and not all active duty service is qualifying for veterans' preference.

Only veterans discharged or released from active duty in the armed forces under honorable conditions are eligible for veterans' preference. This means you must have been discharged under an honorable or general discharge.

If you are a "retired member of the armed forces" you are not included in the definition of preference eligible unless you are a disabled veteran OR you retired below the rank of major or its equivalent.

There are basically two types of preference eligibility, disabled (10 point preference eligible) and non-disabled (5 point preference eligible).

The Coast Guard has the authority, by law, to give noncompetitive appointments to any veteran who has a service-connected disability of 30% or more.

To be eligible, a candidate must be a disabled veteran who has a compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent or more, and the disability must be officially documented by the Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs. Federal agencies may now accept veterans' disability letters dated 1991 or later. (This change aligns with Department of Veterans Affairs policy, which considers letters issued in 1991 or later as proof of a permanent disability, unless specifically stated otherwise.)

The candidate must meet all qualification requirements for any position to which he or she is appointed. 

This authority covers all grade levels and occupations. 

An employee must serve initially under a temporary appointment not limited to 60 days or less. This provides the supervisor with a period of time to evaluate whether the employee is able to successfully perform the full range of duties the position requires. Once the supervisor certifies that the disabled veteran is successful in the position, he/she may be converted to a permanent appointment.

Any questions about veterans employment that have not been sufficiently addressed on this page should be submitted to