Veterans and soldiers at a job fair at Fort Jackson
Veterans and soldiers at a job fair at Fort Jackson // 81st Regional Support Command by Sgt. 1st Class Joel Quebec

The Percentage of Veterans Working for the Government Reaches a 20-Year High

The federal government hired a higher percentage of veterans in fiscal 2012 than it has in the past two decades, the Office of Personnel Management announced Wednesday.

Agencies collectively hired about 195,000 employees last fiscal year, of which 56,000, or 28.9 percent, were veterans, OPM said in its annual report on veterans hiring. That marks a 0.6 percentage point increase over fiscal 2011, when 28.3 percent of new hires were veterans.

The Defense Department reported the highest percentage of new veterans hires in fiscal 2012, at 45.9 percent departmentwide (and even higher percentages within some of the military branches). The Social Security Administration came in second of major agencies, at 34. 6 percent, just beating the Veterans Affairs Department, which reported 34 percent of new hires as veterans.

Federal agencies have been making a big push to bring more veterans on board since November 2009, when President Obama ordered them to make it a priority. Obama’s executive order established Veterans Employment Program offices in agencies and created a Council on Veterans Employment. In fiscal 2009, 24 percent of all new federal hires were veterans.

“Through the effective leadership of the Council on Veterans Employment, this [hiring] initiative continues to produce positive results,” acting OPM Director Elaine Kaplan wrote in an introduction to the annual report. “We will strive to continue fulfilling the goals outlined in Executive Order 13518 in the years ahead.”