In appreciation for military service, the federal government offers programs to help veterans find a job. In most cases, it does not matter how long you served or how long ago you left active duty, as long as you were not dishonorably discharged. In addition, employers cannot discriminate against you and refuse to hire you because you are a veteran.
Some Veterans Can Get Their Old Jobs Back
Under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), some veterans can get their old civilian jobs back. Under USERRA, your former employer must rehire you if your service lasted five years or less and you gave advance notice of your plans to go on active duty. You can't be terminated (without cause) for six months after re-employment.
You must show proof of a general or honorable discharge to be eligible. The time frame for applying for reemployment depends on how long you served on active duty. Some states have established veterans' preference programs that allow private employers to give preference to qualified veterans in the hiring process. In addition, there are many private programs geared towards finding jobs for military veterans.
Federal Agencies Give Preference to Veterans
Veterans who apply for federal government jobs may be hired ahead of non-veterans. The agency can add five points to a veteran's rating or exam score or 10 points for a service-connected disability. You must request the veterans' preference on your application, have a general or honorable discharge, and be qualified for the job. Even if you are eligible for veterans' preference, you are not guaranteed a job.
Some Veterans Don't Have to Compete for Federal Jobs
The Jobs for Veterans Act allows certain veterans to be hired for federal government jobs without competing with other job seekers. These "veterans recruitment appointments" are available only to veterans with service-connected disabilities, those who served during a war or military operation, and those who were recently discharged. You must also have a general or honorable discharge to be eligible.
Employers Can't Discriminate Against Veterans
By law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against veterans on the basis of past, present or future military service. If you believe that you weren't hired because of your military service or were not given veterans' preference when you were eligible, you may file a complaint.
This protection also applies to being fired or passed over for promotion because of your military service. Contact the veteran's employment and training service representative at your state employment office for assistance. If you believe that you were not hired by a government agency because of a service-connected disability, you may file a handicapped discrimination lawsuit against the government.