With new research indicating that veterans made up nearly half of new workers hired by federal agencies last year, Paralyzed Veterans of America will continue its track record as a leader in helping veterans secure jobs with the federal government.
A new report by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service shows that veterans made up 45 percent of the nearly 90,000 new federal workers hired in 2012, bringing their total representation in the federal workforce to 29 percent. Hiring of veterans overall at federal agencies is three times higher than that of the private sector, and even higher for disabled veterans and severely injured veterans, which was seven times and ten times greater, respectively.
President Obama in 2009 issued an executive order that called for increased hiring of veterans within the federal government, in part through the creation of program offices to match veterans with job openings and help them navigate the application process. These efforts contributed to a nearly 9 percent increase over 2009 levels in the numbers of veterans hired into federal jobs last year, according to the Partnership.
The success also can be attributed in part to Paralyzed Veterans’ Operation PAVE, or Paving Access to Veterans Employment, which remains a leader in its level of expertise to help veterans secure jobs at federal agencies. Rather than hire job coordinators, Paralyzed Veterans employs Masters-level certified rehabilitation counselors who coordinate vocational rehabilitation with medical care and VA benefits through Paralyzed Veterans’ nationwide network of service officers.
“It’s an important distinction to have certified rehabilitation counselors because they are the only ones authorized to draft the Schedule A hiring authority that gives persons with disabilities the opportunity to take advantage of noncompetitive opportunities in the federal government,” said Sherman Gillums, associate director of veterans benefits for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “One of the benefits of our program is we have that access to federal agencies.”
More specifically, Schedule A is an excepted service hiring authority that enables federal agencies to hire individuals with disabilities without having to compete the job, thus avoiding the traditional and often lengthy federal hiring process.
Federal agencies provide a number of benefits to veterans and individuals with disabilities that cannot be found in the private sector, including job stability, competitive pay and an equal playing field when it comes to promotions and career progression, Gillums said. “Because Paralyzed Veterans advocates in this realm, we can ensure disabled veterans who work for the federal government are taken care of because it’s our job to hold the government accountable,” he said.
Still, while the proportion of veterans hired into federal jobs has increased since 2009, the number of federal hires overall has decreased nearly 40 percent since that time, in large part thanks to sequestration, budget cuts and downsizing. “There have been a lot more disabled veterans hired in the federal government over the past few years than in past times, but the reality is that some who have been hired have been let go or laid off as a result of sequestration,” Gillums said.
The accessibility of federal buildings also remains a challenge for disabled veterans seeking federal jobs, a problem Gillums said he hopes federal agencies will make a priority going forward. “There are barriers to access,” he said. “I think the Defense Department and other agencies have a long way to go if they expect disabled veterans to work on their installations.”
Learn more about Operation PAVE
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.