Page updated 11/1/2016
Veterans' Job Opportunities / VRA / Government Jobs / Civil Service Jobs
The VRA is a special authority by which agencies can appoint an eligible veteran without competition. The VRA is an excepted appointment to a position that is otherwise in the competitive service. After 2 years of satisfactory service, the veteran is converted to a career-conditional appointment in the competitive service. (Note, however, that a veteran may be given a noncompetitive temporary or term appointment based on VRA eligibility. These appointments do not lead to career jobs.) When two or more VRA applicants are preference eligibles, the agency must apply veterans' preference as required by law. While all VRA eligibles have served in the Armed Forces, they do not necessarily meet the eligibility requirements for veterans' preference under section 2108 of title 5, United States Code.
Eligibility requirements changed considerably under the Jobs for Veterans Act, Public Law 107-288, which amended title 38 U.S.C. 4214. The new eligibility requirements limited access to this program to veterans who served during a war, or in a campaign and to recently separated veterans as noted below:
There has been some confusion on what is considered to be “recently separated.” Agencies are limiting VRA to those within three years of discharge in some cases. Veterans claiming eligibility on the basis of service in a campaign or expedition for which a medal was awarded must be in receipt of the campaign badge or medal. In addition to meeting the criteria above, eligible veterans must have been separated under honorable conditions (i.e., the individual must have received either an honorable or general discharge).
Under the eligibility criteria, not all five-point preference eligible veterans may be eligible for a VRA appointment. For example, a veteran who served during the Vietnam era (i.e., for more than 180 consecutive days, after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976) but did not receive a service-connected disability or an Armed Forces Service Medal or campaign or expeditionary medal would be entitled to five-point veterans’ preference. This veteran, however, would not be eligible for a VRA appointment under the above criteria.
As another example, a veteran who served during the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through January 2, 1992, would be eligible for veterans’ preference solely on the basis of that service. However, service during that time period, in and of itself, does not confer VRA eligibility on the veteran unless one of the above VRA eligibility criteria is met.
Lastly, if an agency has two or more VRA candidates and one or more is a preference eligible, the agency must apply veterans’ preference. For example, one applicant is VRA eligible on the basis of receiving an Armed Forces Service Medal (this medal does not confer veterans’ preference eligibility). The second applicant is VRA eligible on the basis of being a disabled veteran (which does confer veterans’ preference eligibility). In this example, both individuals are VRA eligible but only one of them is eligible for veterans’ preference. As a result, agencies must apply the procedures of 5 CFR 302 when considering VRA candidates for appointment.
The Book of U.S. Government Jobs provides detailed information about these programs and provides all of the information you need to fill out your applications and investigate jobs with all agencies. This title further clarified the VRA options such as:
The keys to landing a federal job are to first understand the federal job market from the inside out and then know how to write a federal resume that incorporates your military experience and relate it to a comparable federal civil service occupation. The Book of U.S. Government Jobs will help you understand the federal job market from an insider's perspective.
Dennis Damp, the author, retired from federal service in 2005 with 35 years and 7 months service. He began his government service in 1968 when he was drafted during the Vietnam war. After leaving the military he landed a job with the Department of Defense and after three years was selected for a position with the Federal Aviation Administration. Damp spent a total of 10 years in the military and his active duty time counted towards his benefits and retirement. He knows first hand how to make the transition from the military to federal civil service. His last position with the federal government was Technical Operations Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic Control Tower at the Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.
The federal style resume is nothing like the private sector resume. You must have over 42 specific blocks of information on your federal resume or it may not be accepted and the data must be properly formatted and organized. A professional Federal Resume Writing Service can assist you with your application package. They will work with you by phone and email to package a federal style resume specifically tailored to the job announcement that you are bidding on.
Veterans Preference / VRA / Government Jobs / Civil Service Jobs