American Legion Slams Pentagon, Congress: They’ve ‘Turned Their Backs’ On Veterans

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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The American Legion is furious at the Pentagon for trying to curb a provision that gives veterans a preference in hiring for jobs in the federal government.

The veterans’ advocacy group is starting its campaign with a letter to members of Congress.

“One would think the agency that produces veterans and service-disabled veterans would have the additional moral obligation to uphold the institution of Veterans Preference,” the letter states, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. “Instead, Department of Defense (DOD) turned their backs on their former employees, by initiating a provision … that dilutes veterans preference. The provision, if passed, would diminish Veterans Preference.”

The provision is listed in the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act and what it does is remove the preference a veteran has in getting hired once they’ve already gotten a job in the federal government. In other words, once that vet has a federal job, the hiring preference is removed for them for future federal jobs.

According to Senate aides who spoke with The Washington Post, Pentagon officials pressured GOP Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, to make the shift in the annual defense budget legislation.

This change would impact countless thousands of veterans, who often try to get hired by the federal government at any level they can and then eventually transfer to a position more suitable to their skills and liking. Before the provision moves forward, it will have to be reconciled in conference with the House version of the defense bill, which does not include the provision.

What this provision does, says The American Legion, is ruin the contract between the U.S. and its veterans, who can sometimes be less skilled than other civilians because they’ve spent valuable abroad in military service, instead of in the workforce. One federal lobbyist told Federal News Radio he was astounded at the lack of protest in response to the proposal to make veterans’ preference a one-time event.

A House Committee on Armed Services spokesman said the committee has no position on the issue yet.

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