Our military veterans deserve a leg up into federal leadership - Albuquerque Journal

Our military veterans deserve a leg up into federal leadership

U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell

Veterans of the United States armed forces are our nation’s greatest human resource. For centuries, the dedicated men and women of our military have served and sacrificed in defense of our freedoms.

Too often, however, veterans are disregarded or dismissed by elites in Washington, unable to use their skills to lead our government once they have left military service. That’s why I have introduced the Veteran Recruitment Act of 2022, which will prioritize hiring veterans for leadership positions related to national security and diplomacy.

Since the end of the Civil War, the American people have created various programs to help veterans. These include health, education, housing and other initiatives. We should add greater professional opportunities to this list – not just for the benefit of veterans, but to ensure expertise and quality in our federal government.

Currently, the U.S. government provides veterans with additional credit, gained by virtue of their prior military service, that they can use when applying for federal positions. These “veteran preferences” provide advantages in the cumbersome federal job application process and have helped many veterans obtain federal employment. But it is unclear whether veterans have an edge when it comes to applying for leadership or policy positions, where the skills and tools they have developed and learned over the course of military careers could best be applied.

Veterans bring particularly valuable skills, perspective and diversity to their professional worlds. In addition to a typically unparalleled work ethic, respect for constitutional authority and commitment to their fellow public servants, many veterans also bring to bear an array of technical and language skills they gained during their service. Veterans who have served in overseas operations can offer additional resources, including firsthand international and cultural awareness that simply cannot be taught through classroom education.

Congress should not leave these leadership qualities “on the table” – on the contrary, we should take additional steps to ensure veterans occupy key positions throughout the U.S. government. This is especially true for leadership, management, and policy positions within federal agencies that have diplomatic, defense, intelligence and security missions.

The Veterans’ Recruitment Act aims to rectify this situation. My bill requires the secretary of state to create a detailed plan for prioritizing the recruitment of veterans into foreign service and civil service positions pertaining to leadership, management and policy roles within the Department of State.

This will be accomplished by eliminating explicit and implicit barriers to veterans in the Department of State’s foreign service and civil service recruitment and hiring practices, including in digital and non-digital recruitment materials. The bill would also ensure our foreign service training and management standards are aligned with those of other federal defense, intelligence and security agencies, to include implementation of rigorous and selective training courses for newly hired recruits.

In addition, my bill ensures physically disabled veterans have equal access to the Department of State’s foreign service and civil service positions. This legislation will also enhance the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s efforts to recruit veterans for positions and prohibits any federal agency from not giving veterans the hiring preference they earned. Finally, the legislation requires the Department of Defense to establish and implement separation memoranda of understanding with all federal agencies to enhance recruitment and retention efforts of veterans.

America’s veterans are among the most knowledgeable people capable of protecting our national security and advancing our interests abroad. The Veterans Recruitment Act ensures men and women who have defended our country can use their talents to strengthen America for many years to come.

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