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With Jobs Order, Obama Gives Veterans More to Celebrate

With Jobs Order, Obama Gives Veterans More to Celebrate

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Joe Davidson | The Washington Post via YellowBrix

November 11, 2009

The executive order signed by the president establishes a Council on Veterans Employment, tasked with creating a government-wide program to increase hiring of vets and instituting measures to gauge how well Uncle Sam does. There were approximately 480,000 veterans working for the federal government at the end of fiscal year 2008, according to the White House. How that number changes will tell the tale of the order’s effectiveness.

“We know exactly right now how many vets each agency in government is hiring,” Berry said. “We will know very cleanly and clearly a year from now if we have succeeded — or are we on the right track, or have we missed the mark? The metric for accountability on this is very clear: Are more vets getting jobs in the federal civil service?”

The order lists 24 executive branch agencies that each must form a Veterans Employment Program “to be responsible for enhancing employment opportunities for veterans within the agency.” The agencies are told to develop an operational plan, training programs for disabled vets, and mandatory instruction for human resources personnel and hiring managers on veterans’ preference.

Obama’s order also told Berry to “develop a Government-wide Veterans Recruitment and Employment Strategic Plan, to be updated at least every 3 years, addressing barriers to the employment of veterans in the executive branch.”

One of the listed agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, is already moving to improve its employment of veterans. Last month, at a meeting with representatives of veterans organizations, Secretary Janet Napolitano emphasized the department’s goal of hiring 50,000 veterans by 2012. It held a job fair for vets in July, and the department says its workforce now is about 25 percent veterans.

All of this makes veterans groups applaud, but Hill’s organization also sounded a note of caution. “The American Legion is cheering, with reservations, an Obama administration initiative to provide more federal employment for military veterans,” the group said in a statement.

And on the organization’s Web site, Hill said the American Legion “would ask the President to do more to end age discrimination in the hiring of veterans. While age discrimination is technically banned, it is not unusual for National Guard and Reserve servicemembers to lose employment due to time spent away while deployed. After all, employers may downsize and go out of business. When this happens to a middle aged servicemember, re-employment can be especially challenging. Still, the Executive Order certainly has great merit, though we will continue to fight for more such initiatives.”


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