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Federal Employment Law
Veterans Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 -

Congress passed the Veterans Employment Opportunities Act (VEOA) in 1998 to reward veterans for their service in the armed forces.

Specifically, VEOA grants veterans a hiring preference, making it easier for them to get jobs in the civilian service.

It provides certain retention benefits as well.

VEOA also gives veterans who are federal employees or applicants for federal positions the right to challenge a violation of their rights.

VEOA applies to virtually all agencies and positions within the federal government, but most people know little about it.

If you are a veteran currently working for the federal government or applying for a federal position, understanding veterans’ preference and your legal rights as a veteran is vital.  

VEOA: Understanding the Basics

To understand veterans’ preference under VEOA, it is best to review how government hiring works.

There are several services within the federal government: the Competitive Service (CS), the Excepted Service (ES), and the Senior Executive Service (SES).

Each service has its own process for reviewing and appointing employment candidates.

The CS includes most civil service positions in the executive branch of the federal government. For CS positions, individuals must undergo a multi-layered competitive examination process.

Generally, the CS hiring process includes a written test, an evaluation of the individual’s education and experience, and an interview.

The ES refers to several positions that do not use the same competitive process as CS positions.

Examples include government attorneys and certain other professional roles.

Finally, there is the SES, which encompasses high-ranking members of government who typically serve in leadership roles. 

VEOA gives veterans’ preference for all CS and ES positions, as well as most SES positions.

Veterans’ preference is expressed as a 0 to 10 point addition to any passing examination score or employment rating.

Veterans’ preference does not apply to promotions, reassignments, or transfers.

Many people often confuse the VEOA with the Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA), but the two have significant differences. 

Who Qualifies for Veterans’ Preference Under VEOA?

Any person with an honorable discharge or general discharge from one of the branches of the armed forces can receive veterans’ preference.

Covered branches include the Army, Navy, Space Force, Air Force Force, Marine Corp, and Coast Guard.

In most cases, a person must have served at least 24 months before they are eligible to receive veterans’ preference. 

Most retirees below the rank of O-4 (Major/Lieutenant Commander) can receive veterans’ preference.

Those who retired at the rank of O-4 or higher do not receive preference unless they have a disability.

Although veterans’ preference was originally aimed at those who had served in an active war, it now applies to potentially anyone who served in the armed forces.

The Point System Under VEOA

There are three levels of veterans’ preference under VEOA: zero-point, five-point, and ten-point.

The zero-point preference is reserved for someone who receives a “sole survivorship discharge.”

A sole survivorship discharge is when a military member asks to leave the military because they are the only surviving child of their family. 

Any non-disabled veteran who served honorably can receive a five-point preference.

The highest level of veterans’ preference applies to any veteran (or family member) who has a service-connected disability or a purple heart. 


It is easy to confuse VEOA with VRA, but the two operate in different ways. The VEOA grants veterans a small preference in hiring matters.

By contrast, the VRA is a special hiring authority that grants agencies the ability to appoint veterans without any kind of competitive process.

In other words, the applicant can get the job without needing to take any test or attend any interview. 

Just like the VEOA, there are a few requirements a person must meet to be eligible for a VRA position.

First, the candidate must meet all basic qualification requirements for the position.

Second, the candidate must be:

  • A disabled veteran,
  • A veteran who served on active duty in a war that Congress declared,
  • A participant in a campaign or expedition that had an authorized campaign badge, or
  • A veteran who separated from active duty within the past three years. 

Unlike the VEOA, there is no service requirement. And the VRA applies only to some ES positions. It does not apply to CS or SES positions.

Lastly, the VRA position must be at the GS-11 level or lower. 

Want to Learn More About Veterans’ Preference? Contact a Skilled Federal Employment Attorney Today

It’s only fair to recognize veterans for their sacrifice and service to the country. Yet understanding how the VRA and VEOA apply to federal positions is complicated.

While you may understand the basics of VRA and VEOA, it is more difficult to evaluate whether your employment application was treated fairly.

Hiring managers can easily misapply veterans’ preference or even consciously ignore it. When that happens, you have rights under the law. 

Here at the Federal Employment Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing, PLLC, our team is passionate about defending the rights of veterans.

We want all veterans to have a fair chance at federal employment, and we have years of experience protecting veterans in multiple legal forums.

On top of that, we have a proven track record of success and a stellar reputation amongst our clients

Even if you aren’t sure you have a case, contact us. Don’t miss your opportunity to get your federal dream job.

Give us a call at 866-612-5956 or get in touch with us online. 

Author Photo

Aaron Wersing, Attorney at Law

Aaron Wersing is the founder of the Law Office of Aaron D. Wersing. Mr. Wersing graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law with a Doctorate in Jurisprudence and was the recipient of the CALI Excellence for the Future Award. Mr. Wersing previously attended the University of Georgia, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting. Mr. Wersing is an active member of his local community. Mr. Wersing acts as a volunteer attorney with Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the pro bono legal aid organization of the Houston Bar Association. He is also a member of professional legal organizations such as the National Employment Lawyers Association and the American Inns of Court. To reach Aaron for a consultation, please call him at (833) 833-3529.

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