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Full text of "Veterans preference : hearing before the Subcommittee on Civil Service of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, April 30, 1996"

VETERANS PREFERENCE 



Y4.G 74/7; V 64/11 

Veterans Preference* Hearing* 104-2... 

HEARING 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOxMMITTEE ON 
CML SERVICE 

OF THE 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT 

REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 
HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES 

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS 
SECOND SESSION 



APRIL 30, 1996 



Printed for the use of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight 



^^'-''ZSS^^^^ 



I 




JAN 1 4 1998 



SlJi2£yiMTs 



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 
WASHINGTON : 1997 



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, EKT 20402 

ISBN 0-16-055440-3 



VETERANS PREFERENCE 



Y4.G 74/7: V 64/11 

Veterans Preference/ Hearingi 104-2... 

HEARING 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON 
CIVIL SERVICE 

OF THE 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT 

REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 
HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES 

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS 

SECOND SESSION 



APRIL 30, 1996 



Printed for the use of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight 



'^"^^""SS^^= 




JAN 1 4 1998 
BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARV 



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 
WASHINGTON : 1997 



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402 

ISBN 0-16-055440-3 



COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 
WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania, Chairman 



BENJAMIN A. OILMAN, New York 
DAN BURTON, Indiana 
J. DENNIS HASTERT, IlUnois 
CONSTANCE A. MORELLA, Maryland 
CHRISTOPHER SHAYS, Connecticut 
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico 
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida 
WILLIAM H. ZELIFF, Jr., New Hampshire 
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York 
STEPHEN HORN. CaUfomia 
JOHN L. MICA, Florida 
PETER BLUTE, Massachusetts 
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia 
DAVID M. McINTOSH, Indiana 
JON D. FOX, Pennsylvania 
RANDY TATE, Washington 
DICK CHRYSLER, Michigan 
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota 
MARK E. SOUDER, Indiana 
WILLL\M J. MARTINI, New Jersey 
JOE SCARBOROUGH, Florida 
JOHN B. SHADEGG, Arizona 
MICHAEL PATRICK FLANAGAN, IlUnois 
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire 
STEVEN C. LaTOURETTE, Ohio 
MARSHALL "MARK" SANFORD, South 

Carolina 
ROBERT L. EHRLICH, Jr., Maryland 



CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois 
HENRY A. WAXMAN, CaUfomia 
TOM LANTOS, California 
ROBERT E. WISE, Jr., West Virginia 
MAJOR R. OWENS. New York 
EDOLPHUS TOWNS. New York 
JOHN M. SPRATT, Jr., South CaroUna 
LOUISE McINTOSH SLAUGHTER, New 

York 
PAUL E. KANJORSKI, Pennsylvania 
GARY A. CONDIT, CaUfomia 
COLLIN C. PETERSON, Minnesota 
KAREN L. THURMAN, Florida 
CAROLYN B. MALONEY, New York 
THOMAS M. BARRETT, Wisconsin 
BARBARA-ROSE COLLINS, Michigan 
ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, District of 

Columbia 
JAMES P. MORAN, Virginia 
GENE GREEN, Texas 
CARRIE P. MEEK, Florida 
CHAKA FATTAH. Pennsylvania 
BILL BREWSTER, Oklahoma 
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania 
ELIJAH CUMMINGS, Maryland 

BERNARD SANDERS, Vermont 
(Independent) 



James L. Clarke, Staff Director 

Kevin Sabo, General Counsel 

Judith McCoy, Chief Clerk 

Bud Myers, Minority Staff Director 



Subcommittee on Civil Service 



JOHN L. 
CHARLES F. BASS, New Hampshire 
BENJAMIN A. OILMAN. New York 
DAN BURTON, Indiana 
CONSTANCE A. MORELLA, Maryland 



MICA, Florida, Chairman 

JAMES P. MORAN, Virginia 
BERNARD SANDERS, Vermont (Ind.) 
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania 



Ex Officio 

WILLIAM F. CLINGER, Jr., Pennsylvania CARDISS COLLINS, IlUnois 

George Nesterczuk, Staff Director 

Garry Ewing, Counsel 

Caroline Fiel. Clerk 

Cedric Hendricks. Minority Professional Staff Member 

Mike Kirby, Minority Professional Staff Member 



(II) 



CONTENTS 



Page 

Hearing held on April 30, 1996 1 

Statement of: 

Buyer, Hon. Stephen E., a Representative in Congress from the State 

of Indiana 6 

Drach, Ronald, national employment director, Disabled American Veter- 
ans; and Emil Naschinskl, assistant director of economics, American 

Legion 170 

Fales, John, columnist, the Washington Times; John Davis, veteran and 

former Federal employee; and James Daub, veteran 78 

Fox, Hon. Jon D., Pennsylvania 15 

Letters, statements, etc., submitted for the record by: 

Buyer, Hon. Stephen E., a Representative in Congress from the State 

of Indiana, prepared statement of 10 

Davis, John, veteran and former Federal employee, prepared statement 

of 137 

Drach, Ronald, national employment director. Disabled American Veter- 
ans, prepared statement of 172 

Fales, John, columnist, the Washington Times, prepared statement of 81 

Mica, Hon. John L., a Representative in Congress from the State of 
Florida: 

Prepared statement of 4 

Prepared statement of Mr. King 158 

Prepared statement of Ms. Odom 151 

Moran, Hon. James P., a Representative in Congress from the State 
of Virginia: 

Prepared statement of 22 

Veterans in the Federal Government — A statistical profile 26 

Naschinski, Emil, assistant director of economics, American Legion: 

Prepared statement of 183 

Resolution 408 198 



(III) 



VETERANS PREFERENCE 



TUESDAY, APRIL 30, 1996 

House of Representatives, 
Subcommittee on Civil Service, 
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, 

Washington, DC. 

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:10 a.m., in room 
2247, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John L. Mica (chair- 
man of the subcommittee) presiding. 

Present: Representatives Mica, Bass, Morella, and Moran. 

Staff present: George Nesterczuk, staff director; Garry Ewing, 
counsel; Caroline Fiel, clerk; and Cedric Hendricks and Mike 
Kirby, minority professional staff members. 

Mr. Mica. I'd like to call to order this meeting of the House Civil 
Service Subcommittee and welcome you this morning. Sorry we're 
getting a bit of a late start here, but I do have the concurrence of 
the minority to begin even without one of their members present 
at this time. We'll go ahead. 

This morning we're going to be discussing the question of veter- 
ans preference and its current status. We'll be hearing from a num- 
ber of witnesses, whom I want to welcome and, again, apologize for 
the delay in starting this subcommittee hearing. I'll start this 
morning by giving some opening remarks and then yield to my col- 
leagues on the panel. 

I called this hearing because of the numerous complaints I've re- 
ceived from veterans around the country and various veterans' 
groups. Many of my colleagues have the same complaints — that 
employment preferences accorded to veterans by law may not be 
faithfully applied in our Federal Government. 

It's important for us to remember that veterans preference is not 
a gift; it is an earned right and obligation of our country. Congress 
has a moral obligation to recognize the sacrifices of the men and 
women of the armed forces who have served their country. Many 
who have served our Nation believe veterans preference has be- 
come somewhat of a hollow promise. Unfortunately, veterans pref- 
erence is often ignored or too easily evaded, and redress for veter- 
ans who are wronged is often inadequate. 

We need to examine these questions and to find effective rem- 
edies where we find existing problems. There is reason to be con- 
cerned about opportunities available to our veterans. As recently as 
1984, veterans made up 38 percent of the Federal workforce. By 
1994, according to the Office of Personnel Management, that num- 
ber was down to 28 percent, a figure that really doesn't differ too 
much from the 23 percent in the overall civilian labor force. In 

(1) 



other words, if we had no veterans preference laws in effect, we 
would expect to find that veterans comprise 23 percent of the Fed- 
eral workforce. We really almost have that level today. 

OPM's statistics also show tjhat veterans are leaving the Govern- 
ment in disproportionate nuinbers. These figures show that be- 
tween September 1992 and /September 1994, the number of veter- 
ans in the workplace dropped by 42 percent. That's nearly seven 
times the rate at which the workforce declined. I've said if snail 
darters or any other species were disappearing at that rate, Con- 
gress would probably be jumping up and down and demanding to 
know why. 

I think we owe our veterans no less as far as an inquiry. Veter- 
ans in our Federal workplace may be on their way to becoming an 
endangered species, particularly as it relates to preference. 

There may be some explanation for the high rate. We should look 
at those factors. Forty-seven percent of veterans are concentrated 
in our three military departments. The Defense Department has 
been bearing the brunt of recent Government downsizing, and 
we've outlined in previous hearings some of those statistics and 
documented that downsizing and its disproportionate impact on our 
civilian defense employees and military. 

Veterans also tend to be older than the average Federal worker, 
so normal retirement may account for some of this decline. In fact, 
0PM statistics confirm that over the last 5 years, veterans ac- 
counted for more than 50 percent of retirements from the civil serv- 
ice. But OPM's figures also suggest that veterans are under-rep- 
resented in most Federal agencies. 

And these figures back up the claim of many that we need to cre- 
ate additional opportunities for veterans. Frankly, I'm very con- 
cerned that recent policies and proposed reforms may even pose a 
further threat to veterans preference, whether that may be their 
intended effect or not. 

The use of single position competitive levels in reductions in 
force, RIFs, is, in fact, one good example. In one recent RIF at the 
U.S. Geological Survey, 97.2 percent of 1,100 positions were placed 
in unique competitive levels. We should be concerned also that the 
trend to be more decentralized in hiring decisions will complicate 
the enforcement of veterans preference. 

And we need to be very concerned about indications that some 
in Government may be trying to evade veterans preference laws all 
together. For example, a GAO study showed that agencies had re- 
turned 7 1 percent of the hiring certificates — these are lists of quali- 
fied applicants — and they've turned them back to 0PM. Veterans 
who were at the top at only 5 1 percent of the applicants' list were 
returned when veterans were not at the top. Compounding these 
concerns is the reduction of Federal hiring opportunities while the 
Government is downsizing. 

I'm committed to improving opportunities for veterans. That's 
one reason why we're conducting this hearing, and I think many 
others on this panel share my concern and commitment to our vet- 
erans. This is especially important in light of the continuing 
downsizing that we'll experience across the Government in the fu- 
ture. 



Furthermore, we must provide veterans whose rights are violated 
with some viable redress mechanism. I know my colleagues on this 
subcommittee will share my objective of guaranteeing that veterans 
preference will be always alive and well in the Federal Government 
and that it be properly acted upon. 

One of the strengths of veterans preferences is that it has always 
received bipartisan support, from both sides of the Congress. 

I'm pleased this morning to welcome our distinguished witnesses, 
all who share deep commitment and concern about preserving and 
strengthening veterans preference. On our first panel we're privi- 
leged to hear from the distinguished chairman of the Veterans 
Committee, Subcommittee on Education, Training, Employment, 
and Housing, Congressman Stephen E. Buyer and from Congress- 
man Jon D. Fox, a distinguished member of both the Veterans 
Committee and our own Government Reform and Oversight Com- 
mittee. 

On our second panel, the witnesses will be John Fales, a veteran 
better known to many as Sergeant Shaft, the columnist for the 
Washington Times. I'm sure many of you have read his column. 
We'll then hear from John Davis, a veteran and former Federal em- 
ployee, and I believe we'll also hear from James Daub, a veteran 
who served in the military in connection with Desert Shield and 
Desert Storm. 

In our third panel we're fortunate to have representatives of out- 
standing veterans groups. Each of those panelists are expert on 
veterans issues. The first panelist is Ronald Drach, who is the na- 
tional employment director for the Disabled American Veterans. 
We'll then hear from Emil Naschinski, assistant director of econom- 
ics for the American Legion. I just received a report that Mr. 
Kahn's, the vice president of the Veterans Economic Action Coali- 
tion, plane has been canceled, so it doesn't look like we'll have him 
here this morning. 

As we again welcome each of you and our distinguished wit- 
nesses, we will now hear from other members of the panel who 
may have opening statements, and I will defer first to Mr. Bass, 
our vice chairman. 

[The prepared statement of Hon. John L. Mica follows:] 



OPENING STATEMENT 

CHAIRMAN JOHN L. MICA 

Veterans Preference: A New Endangered Species?? 

April 30, 1994 
Room 2247 Raybum HOB 

I called this hearing because of the numerous complaints I have received from veterans 
and veterans groups. Many of my colleagues have heard the same complaints that employment 
preferences accorded veterans by law may not be faithfully applied in the federal government. 

It is important for us to remember that veterans preference is not a gift. It is an earned 
right. Congress has a moral obligation to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women of the 
armed forces who have served their country. Many who have served our nation believe veterans 
preference has become a hollow promise. Unfortunately, veterans preference is often ignored 
or too easily evaded and redress for veterans who are wronged is inadequate. We need to 
examine these questions and find effective remedies where problems exist. 

There is reason to be concerned about the opportunities available to our veterans. As 
recently as 1984, veterans made up 38% of the federal workforce. By 1994, according to the 
Office of Personnel Management, that number was down to 28%, a figure that does not differ 
markedly from the 23% in the overall civilian labor force. 

In other words, if we had no veterans preference laws in effect, we would expect to 
find that veterans comprised 23% of the federal workforce. We are nearly at that level today. 

OPM's statistics also show that veterans are leaving the government in disproportionate 
numbers. These figures show that between September of 1992 and September of 1994, the 
number of veterans in the workforce dropped by 42% . That is nearly seven times the rate at 
which the workforce declined. If snail darters or any other species were disappearing at that 
rate, Congress would demand to know why. We owe our veterans no less. Veterans in our 
federal workforce may be on their way to becoming an endangered species! 

There may be some explanations for this high rate: 47% of all veterans are 
concentrated in the three military departments. The defense department has been bearing the 
brunt of recent government downsizing. Veterans also tend to be older than the average 
federal worker, so normal retirement may account for some of this decline. In fact, OPM's 
statistics confirm that over the last five years veterans accounted for more than 50% of all 
retirements from the civil service. 

But OPM's figures also suggest that veterans are under represented in most federal 
agencies. And these figures back up the claim of many that we need to create additional 
opportunities for veterans. 



Frankly, I'm very concerned that recent policies and proposed reforms threaten 
veterans preference, whether that is their intended effect or not. The use of single position 
competitive levels in reductions in force (RIFs) is one good example. In one recent RIF at the 
U.S. Geological Survey, 97.2% of 1,100 positions were placed in unique competitive levels. 
We also need to be concerned that the trend to more decentralized hiring decisions will 
complicate the enforcement of veterans preference. 

And we need to be very concerned about indications that some in government may be 
trying to evade veterans preference laws. For example, a GAO study showed that agencies 
have returned 71% of hiring certificates -- these are lists of qualified applicants -- to 0PM 
unused when veterans were at the top, but only 51 % of applicant lists were returned when 
veterans were not at the top. Compounding these concerns is the reduction of federal hiring 
opportunities while the government is downsizing. 

I am committed to improving opporhinities for veterans. This is especially important 
in light of the continued downsizing in the future. Furthermore, we must provide veterans 
whose rights are violated with a viable redress mechanism. I know my colleagues on this 
subcommittee will share my objective of guaranteeing that veterans preference will always be 
alive and well in the federal government. One of the strengths of veterans preference is that it 
has always received bipartisan support. 

I am pleased to welcome our distinguished witnesses today, all of whom share a deep 
commitment to preserving and strengthening veterans preference. On our fu-st panel, we are 
privileged to hear from the distinguished chairman of the Veterans Comminee's Subcommittee 
on Education, Training, Employment, and Housing, Congressman Stephen E. Buyer, and 
Congressman Jon D. Fox, a distinguished member of both the Veterans Committee and our 
own Committee on Government Reform and Oversight. 

On our second panel, the first witness will be John Pales, a veteran better known to 
many as "Sgt. Shaft," the columnist for The Washington Times. We will then hear from John 
Davis, a veteran and former federal employee. Finally, we will also hear fi-om James Daub, a 
veteran who served in the military in connection with Desert Shield and Desert Storm. 

On our third panel we are fortunate to have representatives of outstanding veterans 
groups, each an acknowledged expert on veterans issues. The first witness will be Ronald Drach, 
the National Employment Director for the Disabled American Veterans. We will then hear from 
Emil Naschinski, Assistant Director of Economics for the American Legion. Our fmal witness 
will be Gerard C. Kahn, Vice President of the Veterans Economic Action Coalition. 



6 

Mr. Bass. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I don't have an 
opening statement, but I would simply like to commend you for 
calling this much-needed and timely hearing on veterans pref- 
erence. Thank you. 

Mr. Mica. We also have another distinguished member of our 
panel, Mrs. Morella from Maryland. Did you have an opening state- 
ment? 

Mrs. Morella. I don't have an opening statement, Mr. Chair- 
man, but I really appreciate your having this hearing to call atten- 
tion to whether or not veterans preference is working, and giving 
the significant cases to point where we need to do some changing 
because of our allegiance to veterans. 

Our country is great because there have been veterans who have 
sacrificed for our liberties and for those things we take for granted. 
The first panel has our distinguished colleague and another col- 
league who will probably be joining him. 

On the second panel is somebody who is very special to me, and 
that is John Fales. John, as you may have mentioned, Mr. Chair- 
man, is not only Sergeant Shaft of the Washington Times, but also 
is a founder of the Blinded American Veterans Foundation. I know 
him personally as a friend, as an advocate for veterans. In fact, 
there is nothing that John asks you to do that you don't do, be- 
cause he makes sure that he follows through. 

So I'm honored to be on this subcommittee to hear his testimony 
on behalf of all veterans. And so I yield back and thank you for the 
opportunity to make those comments. 

Mr. Mica. I thank my colleagues for their opening comments. 
And now, we will turn to our colleague, the distinguished sub- 
committee chairman, Mr. Buyer, for his statement. Mr. Buyer, 
you're recognized for 5 minutes, thank you. 

STATEMENT OF HON. STEPHEN E. BUYER, A REPRESENTATIVE 
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA 

Mr. Buyer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate this oppor- 
tunity to testify here today. I ask that my entire remarks be ac- 
cepted in the record. 

Mr. Mica. Without objection, so ordered. 

Mr. Buyer. Mr. Chairman, there is a very real need today for 
continuation of veterans preference. It's more than an earned bene- 
fit. I believe that the Federal Government has an investment in in- 
dividuals. These are individuals, men and women, who have a 
great decisionmaking process, the ability to make sound judgments 
under great emotional stress. These are very balanced individuals 
who have a very good sense of duty, honor, country, knowledge of 
sacrifices and knowledge of what's worth living for and what's 
worth dying for. And I think that's extremely important to retain 
those types of individuals in the Government. 

It's the implementation of the veterans preference which con- 
cerns many of us. The effectiveness of the preference program de- 
pends on the comprehensive enforcement of preference laws and its 
rules. The enforcement is where this committee can be most effec- 
tive. 

Fm sure veterans are very appreciative of the work being done 
on their behalf Appreciation is demonstrated by the presence of 



representatives here today by the American Legion, the Disabled 
American Veterans, the VFW, AMVETS, BVA, WA, the Fleet Re- 
serve, and others who are here today. 

I think we must scrutinize how the preference works in the area 
of hiring, promotion, and retention. To do that we must first exam- 
ine how veterans are hired into the Federal workforce and the posi- 
tions they fill. Second, are veterans being promoted? Third, when 
agencies downsize, do they conform to the laws and regulations re- 
garding veterans preference, the primary principle around which 
RIF rules were built? And, fourth, we must ask whether veterans 
have legitimate means of redress should preference status be de- 
nied or circumvented. 

This represents a full-plate, not only for this subcommittee but 
also for my subcommittee and the entire Congress. The American 
people understand the nature of the sacrifices made for them by 
veterans and support veterans preference, especially those disabled 
in the performance of their duties for our country. 

Mr. Mica, and, I'm sure, the others on the committee, you share 
with me one of the great joys in serving in the Congress is that of 
taking care of the veterans who served this Nation. And I agree 
with the chairman, it is in a bipartisan fashion that we look and 
examine this issue. 

There are concerns that I have right now with the veterans pref- 
erence and the hiring, promotion, and retention with regard to the 
present administration. I'll just note some very plain and very cold, 
stark facts, I'll even start with our own Senate and Congress. 

In the Senate, 59 percent with veterans, in the House we have 
40 percent who are veterans. In the present White House, in the 
Executive Office of the President, 4 percent of the men are veter- 
ans, with no women veterans in the Executive Office of the Presi- 
dent. Of the top cabinet slots averaging 840 to 885 slots, 19 percent 
of the men are veterans, and there is one woman vet at the VA. 

Of the Vietnam generation, I call it the President's own, those 
born between 1935 to 1955, 5 percent of the men are in fact veter- 
ans. I thought that was very interesting because under the Bush 
administration, 36 percent of the men at the White House were 
veterans and 30 percent of the top male appointees were in fact 
veterans. 

The political appointments, I think, are indications of what the 
President determines to be priorities. These are positions of great 
power and influence, and having 4 percent veterans, I think, shows 
where the President lies with his priorities. 

I lay the problems, though, beyond that. I lay the problems most- 
ly at the feet of a professional bureaucracy. It's perhaps a culture 
which seems dedicated to rooting out veterans through an avoid- 
ance of the proper hiring and downsizing procedures. 

The veterans preference must remain the first criterion in hiring, 
promotion, and retention. I believe that veteran status is blind as 
to race, gender, age, and religion. We should not allow agency man- 
agers the freedom to avoid the primacy of veterans preference. My 
first point is how we hire veterans. We have a history of helping 
veterans returning to the workforce and issues of qualifications are 
in fact complicated. 



8 

While daunting, there is no excuse for hiring-managers to be un- 
aware of these authorities or for agencies to develop ways around 
hiring or retaining veterans. Many would point to the recent num- 
bers being hired into the Federal service, according to 0PM are ris- 
ing, and that is good. We have concerns as to the type of employ- 
ment veterans are being hired for, and I hope the committee will 
look into this. 

0PM notes that the veterans are prominent in the blue collar po- 
sitions, the very same positions that are being downsized. While 
veterans are employed, it's enlightening, the five agencies the 
chairman had mentioned, the Navy, Army, Air Force, Veterans Af- 
fairs, and Treasury employs 56 percent of the Federal civilian 
workforce and 65 percent of the veterans. 

I do find it curious, though, that the Department of Veterans Af- 
fairs only has 26.4 percent of the employees who are in fact veter- 
ans. But this influx is countered by the large number leaving, due 
to buy-outs and the retirements. 0PM estimates that veterans ac- 
count for over 50 percent of all retirements from the Federal serv- 
ice in the last 5 years. 

There is some anecdotal evidence about the attitudes of some 
managers toward veterans. Apparently some managers target vet- 
erans positions in their downsizing. Some claim that the pursuit of 
diversity is more important than veterans preference. That is 
wrong. What I am saying is that veterans preference must remain 
first among the priorities of Federal managers. 

Second is about promotions. Veterans leaving represent the 
upper and middle managers, the heart and soul of the system. 
0PM estimates that veterans promotions have remained relatively 
steady at 22 percent since 1990. This rate may be acceptable to 
some, but it will not place newly hired veterans into policy and 
management positions once held by a retiring generation of veter- 
ans. 

My third point is about the RIF procedures. We must all be con- 
cerned about the rapidly increasing use of single position competi- 
tive level positions for downsizing purposes. Agencies from the 
GAO to the Army's Audit Agency to the U.S. Geological Survey are 
considering, or have effected, narrow definitions of positions that 
are clearly designed to eliminate preference for veterans in RIF 
considerations. 

This discussion of RIF procedures and hiring authorities leads 
me to my final point. There is no effective means by which a vet- 
eran may air the preference grievance, especially if the veteran is 
not hired. And that's a point that the chairman made, and I think 
that's extremely important. How are these managers to be held ac- 
countable? This redress issue is a primary concern of my sub- 
committee and I want to work closely with you, Mr. Chairman, as 
we move to a reasonable remedy of the redress grievance proce- 
dures for all veterans. 

I've met many of the representatives of veterans service organi- 
zations, and I've also read some of the articles, including those of 
Sgt. Shaft written by John Fales, from whom you're going to hear 
very soon. 

The problem is large and appears to me to be getting much big- 
ger. And Mr. Chairman, we have to recognize that there appears 



to be a real culture within the bureaucracy that does not nec- 
essarily understand the purpose of veterans preference. It's unfor- 
tunate, but it's one for which we have the responsibility to rectify. 

I appreciate the committee looking into this serious issue, and I 
look forward to working with you and for your enthusiasm in our 
pursuit for veterans preference on behalf of veterans in this coun- 
try. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

[The prepared statement of Hon. Stephen E. Buyer follows:] 



10 

Statement of 

Rep. Steve Buyer 

before the 

Civil Service Subcommittee 

on Veterans Preference 

April 30, 1996 



Thank you Chairman Mica for holding this hearing on this very important issue. The 
continuing need for veterans preference and the implementation of veterans preference 
in the federal work force are issues that cause me great concern. The effectiveness of 
the preference program depends not only on the understanding of, and use by veterans, 
but on the comprehensive enforcement of preference laws and regulations. It is in the 
area of enforcement that this committee can be most effective, and that is why I'm sure 
veterans are appreciative of the work being done on their behalf here today as 
demonstrated by the presence of representatives from Tlie American Legion, the 
Disabled American Veterans, the VFW and AM VETS. 

As we look at the veterans preference system, we must scrutinize how preference 
works in the areas of hiring, promotion and retention. First, we must examine how 
veterans are hired into the federal workforce and the positions they fill. Second, are 
veterans being promoted? Third, when agencies downsize, do they conform to the 
laws and regulations regarding veterans preference, which my understanding was the 
primary principle around which RIF rules were built. And fourtli, we must ask 
whether veterans have legitimate means of redress should their preference status be 
denied or circumvented in hiring promotion or retention. 

We must also consider whether veterans preference goes beyond civil service hiring 
into other federally-funded employment and training programs. We should develop the 
criteria to judge how fully the program has achieved its general aims, and how well 
veterans preference has been integrated. This presents a full-plate for not only this 
Subcommittee to consider, but for the entire Congress. The American people 
understand the nature of the sacrifices made for them by their veterans, and support 
veterans preference in federal employment— especially those disabled in the 
performance of their duties. 



11 



Mr. Mica, as you know, I am Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee with 
jurisdiction over veterans preference. One of the great joys of my work here in 
Congress is the work we do on the Veterans Affairs Committee. Our work is 
bipartisan and I come here in the same spirit. Veterans employment in general and 
preference in particular should not be a partisan issue, and I am not here to criticize the 
Administration. There are problems with veterans preference, and I lay them mostly at 
the feet of the professional bureaucracy which in some agencies seems dedicated to 
rooting out veterans through an avoidance of proper hiring and downsizing procedures. 

The advent of affirmative action has created competition with veterans preference, 
despite specific legislative language prohibiting such prerogatives. In short, veterans 
preference must remain the first criteria in hiring, promotion and retention. Veterans 
status is blind as to race, gender, age, religion and other differences that make this 
nation a melting pot. We should not allow agency managers the fi-eedom to avoid the 
primacy of veterans preference, if for no otlier reason than it offers yet another way for 
women and minorities to gain federal employment. 

The history of government's affirmative policies toward veterans employment dates 
back to at least post-Revolutionary War era when land grants were given in return for 
military service. Land gave you a job - you were a farmer. Land gave you status and 
the advantages in some states that came with owning property. 

Later, civil service employment preference for veterans dates back to the period 
immediately following the Civil War when the earliest law providing for such 
preference was enacted in 1865. More recently, federal involvement in the Public 
Employment Service began during World War I and the first programs specifically for 
veterans were established in 1917. These programs provided for services for 
guardsmen returning fi-om the Mexican border. 

When World War I ended. Congress expanded the Department of Labor to handle the 
concerns of returning servicemen. In this country, the employment service set up 
offices in various camps to assist men seeking jobs. Nearly 70 percent of the 1.5 
milhon soldiers registered for employment were placed. 

Currently, we handle veterans preference in the federal government primarily by 
adding points to the examinations taken by qualified veterans. For example, five hiring 
preference points are added to the passing scores of veterans who have served during 
the period December 7, 1941 to July 1, 1955; or for those who served for 180 
consecutive days any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 and before 15, 
1976. Additionally, veterans in campaigns or expeditions for which a campaign medal 

2 



12 



has been authorized receive preference points. That Hst includes veterans of Lebanon, 
Grenada, Panama and Southwest Asia (Persian Gulf)- 

Ten points are added to the passing examination scores of veterans who served at any 
time and who have a service-connected disability. Others such as holders of the 
Purple Heart, for example, qualify as disabled veterans. Additionally, unmarried 
spouses of certain deceased veterans, spouses of a veteran unable to work because of a 
service-connected disability and mothers of a veteran who died in service or who is 
permanently and totally disabled, are also eligible for ten-point preferences. 

So we have a history of helping veterans returning to the work force and working 
successfully to place them in jobs. But, as you can see, the issue of qualifications is a 
complicated one, made further complex by issues of retention preferences in 
downsizing, and special consideration of veterans with a 30 percent or more disability 
rating. While they may seem daunting, there is no excuse for hiring managers to be 
unaware of these authorities, or for agency administrators to develop ways around the 
hiring or retention of veterans in their employ. 

Many would point to the fact that the recent numbers of veterans being hired into the 
federal service are rising and according to Office of Personnel Management (0PM) 
figures they seem to be. That's good. We have concerns, however, as to the type of 
employment veterans are being hired for, and I hope this committee will look into that. 
For example, 73.6 percent of the employees of the National Cemetery System - a part 
of the VA - are veterans. These are by and large Blue-Collar jobs — tlie very jobs 
which are in danger of being eliminated by the downsizing. And, OPM notes that 
veterans are prominent in Blue-Collar positions occupying 29.5 percent of all federal 
jobs. 

Where veterans are employed is also enlightening. Just five agencies, the Navy, Army, 
Air Force, Veterans Affairs and Treasury employ 56 percent of the federal civilian 
woricforce and 65 percent of the veterans. I find it curious that the Department of 
Veterans Affairs only has 26.4 percent of its employees as veterans. 

But this relatively large influx of new veteran hires is countered by the large number of 
veterans leaving due to buyouts and the en masse retirements of many World War II 
and Korean War veterans. OPM estimates that veterans accounted for over 50 percent 
of all retirements fi-om federal service in the last five years. In Fiscal Year 1993, 
32,305 veterans retired, while in FY 1994, 32,365 veterans left the federal civil service. 



13 



There is some anecdotal evidence about the attitude of some managers towards 
veterans relative to who is being oflFered early-outs and buy-outs. Apparently, some 
managers target veterans positions in downsizing, hi the pursuit of diversity, other 
positions are not slated for elimination even when the individual holding the position 
wants to take advantage of a buy-out or early retirement. I am not arguing against 
diversity. What I am saying is that veterans preference must remain first among the 
priorities of federal managers. 

Those leaving also represented the upper and middle-mangers who are the heart and 
soul of the system, and is tlie basis of my second point of veteran promotion within the 
system. 0PM estimates that veterans' percentage of Full-Time Permanent (FTP) 
promotions has remained relatively steady at 22 percent since 1990. This steady rate 
may be acceptable to some, but it will not place newly hired veterans into the policy 
and management positions once held by the retiring generation of veterans. 

Federal downsizing leads all of us who advocate for veterans to common ground. 
According to 0PM, veterans in the executive branch agencies declined fi-om 37.7 
percent of the federal civilian workforce in 1984 to 29.8 in 1990, though it has 
remained relatively steady recently with a drop fi-om 28.9 percent from FY1993 to 28 
percent in FYl 994. 

We must all be concerned about the rapidly increasing use of single-position 
competitive level positions for down-sizing purposes. This allows managers the ability 
to eflfectively dictate who will retain employment. This is the area that has drawn 
perhaps the most scrutiny over the past 12-18 months as non-defense related 
govenmient jobs are eliminated. Various agencies from the GAO to the Army's Audit 
Agency to the U.S. Geological Survey are considering or have effected narrow 
definitions of positions that are clearly designed to eliminate preference for veterans in 
RIF considerations. 

This discussion of RIF procedures and hiring authorities leads me to my final point. 
There is simply no effective means by which a veteran may air a preference grievance, 
especially if the veteran is not hired. How then, are we to hold managers accountable 
for the provisions of law giving preference to qualified veterans? What are the 
mechanisms veterans can use when "creative" measures are used to avoid the retention 
preferences given veterans during RTFs? This redress issue is a primary concern of my 
Subcommittee and I want to work closely with you and the veterans service 
organizations to provide a reasonable remedy for veterans. 



14 



Because of the seriousness of this issue, I have met with many of the representatives of 
veteran service organizations, and I have read numerous articles — including those from 
Sgt. Shaft—about veterans having problems in various areas of veterans preference. 
The problem is large, and it seems to be getting bigger. 

Mr. Chairman, after much discussion and deliberation, we have to recognize that there 
may be a culture within the federal bureaucracy that does not necessarily understand 
the purpose of veterans preference. This is unfortunate, and may not be deliberate. 
But we must rectify the situation. For their part, the veterans groups have reiterated 
their willingness to help educate both the federal government, as well as the veteran, of 
the hiring laws. 

The issue of veterans preference is complex, and we have yet to touch upon related 
issues such as veterans reemployment rights, and the responsibilities of the Office of 
Federal Contractor Compliance just to name a couple. This Committee's look into the 
issue is a tremendous step forward and I appreciate your enthusiasm and interest in 
pursuing what is best for our veterans. As long as we continue to have conscientious 
lawmakers willing to address veterans preference, I remain confident tliat we can take 
the corrective actions necessary to ensure its future health as a viable program for 
veterans who have faithfully served. I look forward to working with you and your 
committee members, and wish to also compliment your staff for the work it has done 
on behalf of veterans. Thank you for the opportunity to address this body. 

### 



15 

Mr. Mica. I thank you for your testimony and would now like to 
recognize the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Fox. 
You're recognized for 5 minutes. 

STATEMENT OF HON. JON D. FOX, A REPRESENTATIVE IN 
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA 

Mr. Fox. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your 
leadership in holding this hearing. I'm grateful for your strong sup- 
port for honoring our commitment to our Nation's veterans in Fed- 
eral employment policies. 

I would also like to recognize the outstanding efforts of my con- 
stituents, Paul Barron, James Daub, Al Evangilista, Stephan 
Lesher, Robert Marsden, George Martin, John Maltato, and Joseph 
Tomasetti, in addressing the need for veterans preference for re- 
servists and National Guard members who served in connection 
with Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. 

At their request, I introduced H.R. 2510, which would provide 
veterans preference points for those reservists and Guard members 
who were called to active duty and deployed outside the Gulf thea- 
ter of operations. 

Mr. Chairman, as you know, many loyal and dedicated members 
of our reserve and National Guard units were ordered to active 
duty to support our successful operations during the Persian Gulf 
war. Those who were sent to the Gulf received veterans preference 
points. However, those patriotic reservists and Guard members 
who were deployed elsewhere received no such preference. Those 
affected include men and women from across the country in many 
of our districts, who left their homes, families, and jobs to answer 
the call to arms. 

In my own district in Montgomery County, PA, I am privileged 
to represent the members of the 913th Air Wing based at Willow 
Grove Air Reserve Station. As Mr. Daub will testify, this unit was 
activated for Desert Shield and Desert Storm in December 1990. 

Some of the unit's members were deployed to the desert, while 
others were ordered to Rhein Mein Air Force Base in Germany. 
Their contributions were essential to the ultimate success of the 
U.S. forces. 

These loyal citizens who sacrificed for our great country deserve 
veterans preference in Federal employment. As a member of the 
House Veterans Affairs Committee and a former U.S. Air Force Re- 
servist, I was proud to join my committee colleague Chris Smith in 
introducing H.R. 2510 to grant reservists and Guard members this 
rightful recognition, which has no impact on the Federal budget. 

I would like to thank the American Legion, as well as the many 
members who have already expressed their support for this impor- 
tant measure. 

Mr. Chairman, I urge the subcommittee to approve the bill which 
demonstrates our commitment to the Reserve forces and the Na- 
tional Guard. Thank you very much. 

Mr. Mica. I thank you for your testimony and also for your com- 
mitment to the matter of veterans preference and veterans legisla- 
tion. 

I know Mr. Buyer has a tight schedule, but I wanted to ask a 
couple of questions, if I may. I think you cited, and I want to make 



16 

sure these statistics are correct, did you say on the White House 
staff only 4 percent of the men are vets and there are no women 
vets? And in the Senate confirmed slots, 21 percent of the men are 
veterans and only one woman is a veteran? 

Mr. Buyer. What I have from my committee staff was Executive 
Office of the President, 4 percent of men are veterans, no women 
veterans in the Executive Office of the President. Of the top cabi- 
net slots, averaging 840 to 885 of the political appointments, 19 
percent are men and one woman. So if the Senate got 21, I can 
check that. 

Mr. Mica. Well, one of the things that has concerned me is that 
the White House doesn't live under some of the rules of the rest 
of the Federal Governm.ent. We've changed some of the regulations 
relating to the Congress and the compliance by the Congress. 

Do you believe that we should extend certain requirements to the 
White House and Executive Office of the President? 

Mr. Buyer. I'm not so certain we should send mandates to the 
Executive Office of the President. The President has made the 
statement that he wants the White House, the executive office 
branch, to be a mirror image of America. Well, if in fact that's true, 
then he's going to have to hire a lot more veterans. 

And Mr. Mica, what I'm more concerned about is that veterans 
have a lot to offer in a very important decisionmaking process. It 
concerns me sometimes when the President can make decisions in 
foreign policy and matters relating to the military when he has not 
surrounded himself with individuals who have a good decisionmak- 
ing process. 

Mr. Mica. So I think you're saying that we should mandate? 

Mr. Buyer. I'm not going to say that you can make those kinds 
of decisions. I would not require a mandate. I think if the President 
is going to make a statement that his Executive Office should mir- 
ror that of America, and it does not, I think he's caught himself 
right now in what could be a hypocritical statement. 

Mr. Mica. If we were to enact any specific legislative changes re- 
quiring adherence to certain preferences, for example, veterans 
preferences, what would be your recommendation? What action 
should we take? What would you recommend this committee take 
to not only comply with intent but also to try to get these numbers 
into some proper order? 

Mr. Buyer. I'd be more than happy to work with you, Mr. Mica. 
I'm very concerned, though, about a Congress placing hiring quotas 
or specific requirements on the administration for political appoint- 
ments. I think the President needs the latitude with regard to who 
he hires. I think what's extremely important, though, is if in fact 
the President is only hiring 4 percent of veterans within the Execu- 
tive Office, he is, in fact, saying that he does not hold in high prior- 
ity veterans with regard to powers of influence in this decisionmak- 
ing process. 

I think that is very, very clear. But I'm very uncomfortable about 
us making the mandate. Where I think is really important, though, 
is addressing the redress of grievance process. When you have 
someone who is highly qualified for a particular position and has 
been wronged, what is their redress? 



17 

And that's where I look forward to working with you, to address 
that, Mr. Mica. 

Mr. Mica. Thank you. Mr. Fox, you mentioned that you have 
many Members who support your bill. Do you have bipartisan sup- 
port for your measure, and, also, do members of the Veterans Com- 
mittee support your bill? 

Mr. Fox. We do have bipartisan sponsors. And as well, the Veter- 
ans Committee does support this legislation, as well as the veter- 
ans service organizations. We have a letter of endorsement from 
the American Legion in addition thereto. 

Mr. Mica. Well, that was my next question, whether you have 
veterans organizations in support. Are there any opposed to your 
bill? 

Mr. Fox. None, no. The American Legion did say that they sup- 
port the bill. It was passed the 76th national convention in Min- 
neapolis in September. Many of the reserve forces, I could just 
quote, if I may, are a significant part of our national security estab- 
lishment in the Reserves, and they feel this legislation is a positive 
step, signed by John Summer, the executive director of the Amer- 
ican Legion. 

Mr. Mica. Now, your bill would extend veterans preference to 
anyone who served, and I quote language from your legislation, "In 
connection with," you use that terminology, "Desert Storm or 
Desert Shield." Who would make the determination that someone 
served in connection with these operations? 

Mr. Fox. That's a good question. The orders from the service 
branches will show that it was connected with and that they were 
called up for that purpose. So the orders take care of that from the 
different branches of the service. 

Mr. Mica. And your testimony emphasized the benefits H.R. 
2510 would have for Reservists and members of the National 
Guard. Would it also extend veterans preferences to members of 
the regular armed forces who were deployed in connection with, as 
you term, these operations? 

Mr. Fox. Would also cover those on active duty, yes. 

Mr. Mica. I don't have any further questions. Mrs. Morella, did 
you have any questions? 

Mrs. Morella. I want to thank both of you for testifying and 
leading us off at this important hearing. 

I'm wondering if one of our problems may be lack of education. 
Lack of education in terms of letting our veterans know that there 
is this preference that they may be eligible for, letting the man- 
agers, the personnel departments of our agencies be cognizant of it 
so that they employ it, and kind of doing an outreach, sort of a re- 
cruitment. 

We don't think about recruiting people who may be eligible for 
some of those positions, I guess that's my first prong in my ques- 
tion. 

Mr. Fox. Congresswoman Morella, I think you hit the nail on the 
head. It's two-pronged. One, we don't always have employers who 
are aware of asking, and we don't always have those who have 
earned the veterans points speaking up. So I think it's a public 
education program which through your leadership efforts and that 
of the members of the committee and Chairman Mica might do well 



18 

in our following your lead on how we can collaboratively and collec- 
tively work better toward that public education program. 

We do a lot about thanking the employers for supporting the 
Guard and the reserves, but we don't always do a good job of in- 
forming those who could receive the benefits, both the companies 
who have veterans and the veterans themselves who have served 
so honorably to our country. 

Mr. Buyer. I think you have hit it right on the head. Before my 
own subcommittee, one of the Assistant Secretaries of the Depart- 
ment of Labor, Preston Taylor, who was a two-star general himself, 
it came out at that subcommittee hearing whereby the Department 
of Labor placed funding for veterans programs at the very bottom. 

And we talked about that for a while, and what concerned us is 
in fact the education. When the military is putting out $250,000, 
$275,000 a year, that education isn't not only just for them but it's 
also for the culture. And that's what you're talking about the man- 
agers. It's going to be very difficult for us to rectify, but a challenge 
we should take on. 

Mrs. MORELLA. I think having this hearing is the first step, or 
one of the steps, that could be taken. Maybe the communication 
with our managers and agency personnel heads, too, to just rein- 
force the fact that we had this hearing and this is what we dis- 
cerned. 

And, again, I think there may be a number of eligible who don't 
even realize they are or just don't bother, because they're afraid of, 
or have heard rumors about, the bureaucracy. 

Just one final point. As you give percentages of those who are 
leaving Federal employment by virtue of downsizing, could it not 
also have a connection with the fact that many of those veterans 
who are eligible for the preference are older, and therefore are 
ready or almost ready for retirement, who then say, "Hey, I think 
this might be my chance to leave." I mean, should that be factored 
into this statistical dimension? 

Mr. Buyer. It should be noted. 

Mrs. MoRELLA. Be noted, OK. Do you agree, Mr. Fox? 

Mr. Fox. Yes. I would agree. 

Mrs. MORELLA. It is something we should look at as we look at 
that, but certainly I'm rather shocked at the statistics you pointed 
out in terms of how few veterans there are, looking at Veterans Ad- 
ministration as one example and the cabinet as others. Thank you. 
Thank you both for being here. 

Mr. Fox. Thank you very much. 

Mr. Mica. I thank the gentlelady and our witnesses. Mr. Moran, 
do you have any questions? Our ranking member has joined us. 

Mr. MORAN. No. I'm sure that my two colleagues have all the an- 
swers. So I won't trouble you with a question. 

But let me suggest some things that I think need to be said, and 
it's just possible they weren't emphasized in the testimony. In the 
first place, in 1990, we had about 17 percent veterans as new hires 
in the Federal workforce, and today we have about 33 percent. It's 
been approximately doubling, as I understand. One of the things 
mitigating against increasing the proportion of veterans in the Fed- 
eral world"orce is that we don't have as large a work pool available. 



19 

After World War II, obviously, we had the largest proportion of 
veterans in the workforce, coming out of World War II. Then we 
had the Korean war, which was smaller than World War II. We 
had the Vietnam war, and a lot of veterans went into the Federal 
workforce from the Vietnam war. But you know, obviously, Gre- 
nada and Panama and the Persian Gulf war did not yield any- 
where near as many veterans who would be eligible. 

Most of the veterans we're talking about right now are between 
55 and 64. They're the ones taking buy-outs and they're the ones 
ready for retirement. So some of this is demographic. And I don't 
think that showing chronological progression of statistics nec- 
essarily tells the whole story. 

The other thing that needs to be emphasized is that we have 30 
percent more veterans in the Federal workforce than we do in the 
private sector. Clearly, veterans preference is working and it's a 
very important — I should say disabled veterans, there are 30 per- 
cent or more disabled veterans. I'm sorry, I should have — excuse 
me. That's my fault. There are 30 percent or more disabled veter- 
ans in the Federal workforce than the private workforce. 

So I guess when you look at veterans preference, that's one that 
would be a first priority among veterans. It's not as high as it was 
in 1984, but I do think that the reason for the decline is not so 
much a negative attitude on the part of this administration or real- 
ly the Reagan or Bush administrations, it's a function of the demo- 
graphics. 

When we look at the specifics that were used in the references 
on the committee report, for the Geological Survey, of the 176 non- 
voluntary separations, only 7 were veterans. Of the 124 permanent 
employees reduced in grade, 33 were veterans. Of the 115 reas- 
signed to other positions, 22 are veterans. Those are not unaccept- 
able statistics. Those are relatively proportional, in fact, less so. It 
would indicate that there seems to be a preference, a veterans pref- 
erence being sustained within personnel policies. 

And under the new USD A flexible hiring program, 16 percent of 
the new hires were veterans. This is in comparison to 11 percent 
they would have had, if not for flexibility. And I think the adminis- 
tration is using that flexibility. We're always going to have employ- 
ees that are not happy with their individual situation. I think it's 
important, though, that we look beyond anecdotal examples, as im- 
portant as they are to the individual, and look at some of the gov- 
emmentwide statistics. 

And I don't think the governmentwide statistics bear out an as- 
sertion that this administration has been any less committed to 
veterans preference than prior administrations. And I think if I 
wanted to get partisan about it, I could make a pretty good case 
that they have had a stronger commitment, given the available 
pool of veterans for the Federal workforce. 

I just hope we have a balanced hearing and what comes out of 
it are really good suggestions for improving veterans' access to the 
Federal workforce and their ability to increase the retention statis- 
tics within the Federal workforce of veterans and not try to make 
any partisan charges, because I don't think they can be very well 
substantiated. So that's my opening statement. 

Mr. Mica. Is that a question or an opening statement? 



20 

Mr. MORAN. No. As I said, I think my two colleagues probably 
have all the answers to any question I might have. But I would cer- 
tainly welcome any response that they might want to share with 
us. 

Mr. Mica. Mr. Buyer, do you want to respond? 

Mr. Buyer. I thirdc, Mr. Moran, had you been here earlier, what 
I discussed was the culture within the bureaucracy, and the culture 
is there and will persist, and that's a very strong challenge to us. 

The real issues are in the recruiting which goes with the edu- 
cation question. So we've got the recruiting, we've got the issues of 
hiring, the retention, promotion. All those are very strong issues. 

And you've got some witnesses who are going to come before you 
here today with some specific examples that I'm sure have per- 
sisted through the years. And I have some very strong concerns 
when there are those today within that culture somehow equate 
veterans preference with this pursuit of diversity. And they are two 
completely different issues. And that's one that concerns me on my 
committee, where veterans preference is, in fact, blind with regard 
to race, color, national origin, and religion. And it's a completely 
different issue. And that's what I wanted to make sure. 

Mr. MORAN. I wholly agree with you on that, Mr. Buyer, I think 
that is a very good point that you raise, and it ought not be one 
of our diversity goals. It's an entirely different issue. 

Mr. Buyer. Right. 

Mr. Moran. If I could just get a little dialog. Isn't it true that 
in 1990, 17 percent of new hires came in through veterans pref- 
erence, and in 1993 it was doubled, actually in 1994 it was 33 per- 
cent? So, you know, that doesn't seem to bear out any negative atti- 
tude. 

Mr. Buyer. It appears I do not have all the answers. No, I don't 
know the answer to that. We're going to look into this issue on my 
subcommittee also. And the one that bothers me is how does a vet- 
eran redress his grievance? 

And, there doesn't appear to be real teeth in the law when you 
have a Federal manager who has a bias and says, "I've got two peo- 
ple here of equal caliber, yet I'm supposed to give my preference 
to the veteran, but I really don't want to." And the manager finds 
the excuse, shoves them aside, hires this one. 

How does he redress his grievance when he says I'm supposed 
to have this preference and there really isn't teeth there? And 
that's one that really concerns me. 

Mr. MORAN. Thank you, Mr. Buyer. 

Mr. Mica. Mr. Fox. 

Mr. Fox. All I would say is that my legislation which I spoke to 
earlier. Ranking Member Moran, is that as a matter of fairness 
Desert Storm veterans should be getting the same preference 
points that others who didn't go to the theater, but yet were called 
up and they were working hard in Germany and ready to go and 
so they should get the 5 points that has no fiscal impact whatso- 
ever. It's just a matter of fairness. 

Mr. MORAN. Thank you. 

Mr. Mica. Well, I want to thank both our panelists for their co- 
operation, Mr. Buyer for your leadership on veterans issues, and 



21 

also Mr. Fox for your leadership and interest, and active legislative 
participation. We look forward to working with you. 

The purpose of the hearing today is to find out the status of vet- 
erans preference, where we have some problems, and how we can 
correct them. So we thank you. 

Mr. Fox. We appreciate your leadership. 

Mr. Mica. We'll excuse you at this time, and call our second 
panel. 

Mr. MORAN. Mr. Chairman, could I submit my statement for the 
record? 

Mr. Mica. Without objection, so ordered. 

[The prepared statement of Hon. James P. Moran follows:] 



22 



statement of Representative James P. 
On Veterans Preference 
April 30, 1996 



Mr. Chairman: 

I appreciate your having this hearing today. Veterans 
preference is a complicated and important aspect of federal 
personnel policies. It is appropriate for us to review this 
program as part of a comprehensive evaluation of the civil 
service and to review the system of preferences in light of the 
current federal downsizing. 

I understand that part of your focus, or at least the focus 
of the witnesses, will be to evaluate the Administration's 
handling of veterans preference. I understand the original 
working title of this hearing, at least in what I saw, was 
"Opportunity to Beat Up on Administration" and you anticipated a 
number of hostile panels. The Clinton Administration should 
welcome this focus because they have an excellent record on 
veterans preference. They have certainly done a much better job, 
and respected veterans more, than the Bush or Reagan 
Administrations. It is a shame that your staff did not invite 
the Administration to discuss its record and answer any 
allegations or charges directly. I imagine they would have 
welcomed the opportunity. 

I am disappointed with the selection of witnesses for 
today's hearing. You have chosen three veterans who will 
complain about how the Administration is handling veterans 
preference. Originally, there were to be four, but one had to 
drop out because his problem was resolved by 0PM. These are only 
three anecdotes. The federal government employs a large number 
of veterans. There are more than 570,000 veterans in the federal 
workforce. There are probably more than a million who have 
applied for federal jobs. But rather than look at the fact, the 
raw numbers, independent research, reports from the GAG or MSPB, 
we are using three anecdotes, three disgruntled veterans, to 
discredit the Administration. 

The truth is, as a percentage of the workforce, there are 
more veterans in the federal workforce than the private 
workforce. There is also a higher representation of disabled and 
30 percent disabled veterans in the federal workforce than the 
private workforce. While this representation is not as high as 
in 1984, the real decline in representation of veterans occured 



23 



in the Reagan and Bush Administrations. The percentage of 
veterans in the federal workforce has stabilized since Bill 
Clinton was elected President. In fact, the percentages of 
veterans as new hires is increasing. Since 1992, the percentage 
of veterans hired has gone from 23.6% of hires to 33.3%. 

It is inaccurate and disingenuous to create the appearance 
of an Administration- wide hostility to veterans where one simply 
does not exist. I particularly do not agree with your 
characterization that veterans are bearing a disproportionate 
share of federal downsizing. Rather than look at raw numbers and 
try to discern a trend that confirms its bias, this committee 
would be better served to look at which agencies have been 
downsized and which agencies have a larger than average share of 
veterans. The largest reductions, according to this 
subcommittee's hearings, have come from the Department of 
Defense. This is particularly true for the period up to 1994. 
You would expect a larger than average number of veterans leaving 
under this downsizing because the numbers of veterans serving in 
the Defense agencies is larger than average. 

In addition, it would be useful for the subcommittee to 
examine the age distribution of veterans in the federal workforce 
before making assertions that the federal downsizing has unfairly 
impacted veterans. More than 59% of all veterans in this country 
are between 55 and 64. The World War II veterans either have 
retired or are retiring. The Korean War Veterans are retiring. 
As these veterans move out of the workforce, the pool of 
potential veterans to replace them is diminishing. The Vietnam 
War was not as large a mobilization as World War II. Grenada and 
Panama were not as large as the Korean War. It is wrong for this 
subcommittee to present a statistically justifiable fact as 
evidence of the Administration's hostility to veterans. It is 
wrong for this subcommittee to claim that veterans are bearing 
the brunt of federal downsizing. 

I am also amazed at the subcommittee's characterization of 
the threats to veterans preference. From the subcommittee's 
background memo, it appears as if there are two. One is the use 
of greater flexibility in hiring, the other is targeted 
reductions in force. When the subcommittee speaks of these 
policies in general, it must refer to the two specific. The 
example of the targeted RIF was the U.S. Geological Survey. The 
example of the hiring flexibility was the USDA project. In both 
of these cases, veterans have come out better than they would 
have otherwise. Even though the Geological Survey RIF was 
targeted to individual positions, it is obvious that the agency 
did not target veterans. Of the 176 non- voluntary separations, 
only 7 were veterans. Of the 124 permanent employees reduced in 
grade, 33 were veterans. Of the 115 reassigned to other 
positions, 22 were veterans. The assertions also don't pan out 
in the USDA example. Under the USDA flexible hiring program, 16% 
of the new hires were veterans. This is in comparison to an 
estimatea i.r% had USDA not had the flexibility. 



24 



There is a reason why veterans preference has always been a 
bi-partisan issue. It is because both parties have been 
committed to working together to ensure the success of the 
program. This commitment extends from both parties to both sides 
of Pennsylvania Avenue. There may have been some minor problems, 
in a workforce of more than 2 million, you will have some 
disgruntled employees, but the commitment has always been strong. 
Let's not ruin this issue and turn this issue into a partisan 
game. We will not serve anybody by grandstanding and finger 
pointing. If there is work to be done in extending veterans 
preference to those called up during the Gulf War or to those 
applying for promotions, lets focus our efforts on doing that 
work. If there is a need for greater enforcement procedures, 
let's work on those. We should not waste time and bother our 
witnesses with a hearing aimed only to level charges back and 
forth. 



Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 



25 

Mr. MORAN. As well as the statistics from 0PM on the record of 
new hires. 
Mr. Mica. Without objection, so ordered. 
Mr. MORAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 
[The information referred to follows:] 



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78 

Mr. Mica. We would like to welcome our second panel, Mr. John 
Fales, columnist from the Washington Times, better known for his 
authorship of Sergeant Shaft, John Davis, a veteran and former 
Federal employee, and James Daub, a veteran. 

Do we have all of these witnesses here? Oh, we have two of 
them. Is Mr. Daub here, James Daub? 

Gentlemen, it's the custom of our panel, as we are a (Jovemment 
oversight and investigations subcommittee, to swear in our wit- 
nesses. We don't do that with Members of Congress; they've al- 
ready been sworn in when they start their terms. If you wouldn't 
mind standing and raising your right hand. 

And I think Mr. Daub has joined us, just in time, if you wouldn't 
mind standing and raising your right hand. 

[Witnesses sworn.] 

Mr. Mica. And we'll let the record reflect the witnesses answered 
in the affirmative. 

Again, I would like to welcome our three panelists. Some of you 
have prepared lengthy statements that will be made a part of the 
record, and you'll each be recognized for 5 minutes, if you would 
like to use some of those comments from what you're submitting 
or elaborate on any points of particular interest to you and what 
you may think may be of interest to the panel. 

Mr. Fales, we will recognize you first, and since you are visually 
impaired, we will try to identify ourselves as we get to the question 
part of this panel. 

So I would like to welcome you. We'll start out with John Fales, 
columnist for the Washington Times. You're recognized for 5 min- 
utes. 

STATEMENTS OF JOHN FALES, COLUMNIST, THE WASHING- 
TON TIMES; JOHN DAVIS, VETERAN AND FORMER FEDERAL 
EMPLOYEE; AND JAMES DAUB, VETERAN 

Mr. Fales. Thank you, sir. And a kudo to you and this distin- 
guished subcommittee. I do want to mention that veterans are di- 
verse. They are Democrats and Republicans, and they vote. 

I've submitted testimony, and I think there are about 54 pages. 

Mr. Mica. Yes, rather lengthy. That's why I said you were lim- 
ited to 5 minutes. 

Mr. Fales. Don't I get reasonable accommodations as a disabled 
vet? 

Mr. Mica. In fact, we'll even go for 6, if you promise not to read 
the whole thing. 

Mr. Fales. Thank you, sir. I'll submit it in braille, sir. And I 
also — in addition to the testimony and the attachments, I also 
would like to add another memo to Shaft that was handed to me 
on the way in to submit for the record. It's from many of the for- 
eign service individuals who are, as I would affectionally say, being 
shafted as we sit here at this testimony. 

Mr. Mica. Without objection, your 54 pages, attachments and ad- 
ditional supplement will be made a part of the record. 

Mr. Fales. Thank you, sir. I really appreciate it. 

And I did want to thank my good friend Congresswoman Morella 
for her kind words and as you noticed in the testimony, I did men- 
tion the Beirut stamp, even though — and along with — to try to 



79 

show the attitude of the Postmaster General toward certain veter- 
ans and — but that was the reason I included that and Mrs. Morella 
has been so very helpful in trying to get a stamp to honor those 
who died of terrorist bombs in Beirut. 

Mrs. Morella. Thank you, sir. 

Mr. Fales. You have the statistics, you also have many of the 
other items regarding veterans. But what I want to do is try and 
put a face on the veteran today. 

And through my columns over the years, many have written 
about their concerns. And you know, it seems the further we get 
away from a conflict, the more difficult it is to try and get earned 
benefits for veterans. 

And I put in my written testimony a little blurb about how age- 
less the rancor is toward veterans in the military, how it exists and 
it existed many, many years ago, as Kipling wrote when he said, 
"Tommy this and Tommy that, and chuck him out, the brute, but 
it's savior of the country, savior of the country when the guns begin 
to shoot." 

In my written statement, there is a young woman whose hus- 
band is dying of cancer. She has two little ones and she didn't 
know what to do. He's a Persian Gulf veteran. Well, since that let- 
ter, this individual passed away, she was losing her home, she had 
nothing. Fortunately, we were able to help her and she has depend- 
ency indemnity compensation and some educational benefits. But 
she is one person who would be eligible for veterans preference. 

There is another 12 -year combat vet in the Persian Gulf who is 
losing his home, his family. He's struggling along, and here's an- 
other individual who wanted to make a career; however, he's too 
sick at this period of time to even get up and go to work. 

There's 800,000 men and women who were downsized out of the 
military, an additional 300,000 individuals who gave their all each 
year for the past 5 years, who gave their all. And we tend to "dis- 
card them" — a term that a Vietnam father used when he talked 
about his son, and the hardship he had after being wounded in the 
Persian Gulf. 

These are faces. These are individuals. These are blood, guts. So 
when we talk about veterans preference, we talk about veterans, 
we're talking about human lives. Today 57 percent of those in the 
military are married and have families, 57 percent. Some are single 
parents. 

So when we — when they leave service, it doesn't only affect their 
lives, their individual lives. And when they get veterans preference, 
it doesn't affect that individual person, it affects their wives, their 
husbands, and their daughters, and their sons. 

While we celebrated the World War, we commemorated World 
War II; a good man. Postmaster General Runyon, was trjdng to cir- 
cumvent veteran preference, he tried many ways to circumvent it. 
And that was in addition to not honoring those who died in Beirut. 

In addition to that, the Kingmeister, as I affectionately call him 
in my column, Jim King, condoned it, and they were going to refer 
it to Justice. Fortunately, there was such an outcry that the White 
House rescinded that order. But one of the difficulties that we also 
have is the Kingmeister, or Jim King, is a person who approves of 
multiple personnel systems. 



80 

You take the new alternate personnel systems, which include 
with the elimination of the Hatch Act, the Whitten amendment, 
and we have serious problems, because it has become one big politi- 
cal game combined with bureaucratic functionaries who get their 
big bonus because they cooperate with many of the political ap- 
pointees making it not only more difficult for veterans, but those 
with targeted disabilities, which I would say is severe disabilities. 

And if you would ask Mr. King what the statistics are of those 
who are severely disabled in the workforce, in the Federal 
workforce today, it is atrocious. I will leave now, but for those who 
question, sir, paying back for the service for those who answered 
our country's call, I'm asking Mr. Davis just to recite this poem. 

And I'm doing this for you, Congresswoman Morella, because I 
know how well you love poetry. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Fales follows:] 



81 



STATEMENT OF 

JOHN FALES 

(A.K.A. SGT. SHAFT, WASHINGTON TIMES) 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

30 APRIL 1996 



A kudos to you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this important 
and distinguished subcommittee for holding this much needed 
hearing on veterams preference. 

In October, 1995, Lennox E. Gilmer presented most 
informative testimony before your subcommittee which voiced the 
concerns and recommendations of the American G.I. Forum; the 
American Legion; American Veterans of World War II, Korea, and 
Vietnam; Non- Commissioned Officers Association; Paralyzed 
Veterans of America; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Vietnam Veterans 
of America; and the Disabled American Veterans emd their 
respective Auxiliaries. 

I studied Mr. Gilmer's well-researched document on veterans 
preference and concur with its findings cind conclusions. In 
order not to be rediuidant I will not repeat most of what is 
contained in Mr. Gilmer's October 13 statement. However, in my 
own "shy shaftese, " I will share with you, through their own 
words, the hurt, betrayal and anger of our nation's veterans. 
Mr. Chairman, the Subcommittee has the statistics and facts on 
veterans, veterans preference and veterans eit^jloyment ; I will try 
to put a human face on these individuals who answered their 
country's call- -and Mr. Chairman, the call of the U.S. Congress. 

For years many veterans, active military and their families 
have written to my "Sgt. Shaft" column in the Washington Times . 
voicing a myriad concerns regarding the hardships they have faced 
and the hostility they feel from their government and their peers 
who never served. 

This disaffection and rancor against veterans is universal 
and ageless as portrayed in Rudyard Kipling's poem, "Toomy" . 

I went into a public- 'ouse to get a pint o'beer, 

the publican 'e up an* sez, "We serve no red-coats here." 

The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to 



die. 



i outs into the street again an to myself sez I: 

it's Toon^ this an' Tommy that, an' "Tomniy, go away* 



82 

But it's "Tliazik you, Mr. Atkins," when the band begins to 
play 

The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, 

it's "Thank you. Mister Atkins," when the band begins to 
play. 

1 went into a theatre as sober as could be 

They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'ad n't none for me; 

They sent me to the gallery or round the music- 'clIIs, 

But when it comes to fightin' Lord! they'll shove me in the 
stalls! 

For it's Tommy, this, an' Tomniy that, an' "Tommy wait 
out side", - 

But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on 
the tide. 

The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the 
tide, 

O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the troopers on the 
tide. 

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' 
all: 

We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational 

Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our 
face 

The Widow's Itoiform is not the soldier-man's disgrace. 

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the 
brute ! ■ 

But it's "Saviour of 'Is country" when the guns begin to 
shoot ; 

An' it's Tommy this, an' Tomniy that, an' amything you 
please ; 

An' Tommy ain't a blooming' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees! 

Mr. Chairman, during the past few years our nation and our 
allies have been commemorating significant events remembering 
World War II. At the same time our leaders have proposed 
dilution of benefits for these aging veterams. Their need now, 
however, is in^roved VA medical care, which they have well- 
earned. In 1944, Congressmeui Stames recognized the iti^ortance of 
treuisitioning these vetereuis back to civilian life. He said, 
"The biggest problem in the post-war is providing jobs for eible- 
bodied American citizens who have served in the Armed Forces -- 
jobs by which they cam support themselves and their families, 
jobs which will permit them to retain their self-respect and feel 
that the country for which they have offered their all has not 
failed them. " 

"When this war is over eind our boys come home, they should 
not be forced to tramp the streets looking for jobs nor to live 
on charity. There should be a job ready and waiting in private 
enterprise or with the Government, Federal, State eind local, for 
every Americeui fighting mein when he comes home." 



83 



If Representative Starnes would have said those words today, 
I am sure he would have not have used the term "able-bodied" and 
would certainly have included women. 

During the same period of the commemoration, which Archie 
Bunker would refer to as "the Big War," we have had -- and 
continue to have -- several other conflicts throughout the world; 
an agitating book on the Vietnam war by former Secretary of 
Defense, Robert Strange McNamara; the thumbing of his nose at 
veterans by Postmaster General Marvin Runyon as he tried to 
circumvent veterans preference during a Postal Service reduction 
in force (rif ) ; and the same Marvin Runyon arrogantly refusing to 
issue a commemorative stamp in honor of those who died at the 
hands of terrorist in Beirut during a peacemaking mission. Also 
during this time, the military has been downsized by 800,000 men 
and women and approximately an additional 300,000 men and women 
released from the military each year for the past five years. 

Who are some of these veterans and their families who have 
been impacted? 

In 1992, a concerned father wrote: 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I'm writing this partly to tell you of the anguish and 
heartbreak that my wife and I have undergone during and since the 
Gulf war. I want you to understand how difficult is for me to 
express these feelings. I am a retired Navy officer with two 
combat tours in Vietnam. I have always believed in and support 
our country and its leaders. Now, among all the emotions I feel, 
the strongest is a sense of betrayal -- betrayal by my country 
and its leaders. 

My son, Chuck, served as a Marine lance corporal in the 
Gulf. He was critically wounded during the second day of the 
ground war. Shrapnel from an Iraqi mortar round penetrated deep 
into his neck. The shrapnel struck his spine and completely 
paralyzed him, though he later regained feeling. Because of the 
danger or nerve damage, the shrapnel was left in his neck during 
medical evacuation. Chuck is home with us now. The Marine Corps 
awarded him 10 percent disability and discharged him -- discarded 
would seem a more appropriate description. 

Sgt. Shaft, since my son's discharge, he has been to the 
emergency room twice and to our family doctor for severe back 
pain. He has shortness of breath, constant sinus flow, his hair 
is falling out, and his gums are bleeding and separated from his 
teeth, causing them to loosen. But throughout all this, he has 
kept looking for "that good job." Right now he is doing odd jobs 
at a local car dealership, for minimum wage. During his 
interviews for employment, everyone told him how much they 



84 



appreciated what he had done, but they just didn't have anything 
for him -- with his injured neck emd all. 

During a recent conversation, my son told me he had wished 
he had died in the desert; there was no place for him back home. 
Everyone is proud of him, but no one wants to help. As his 
father, I hurt for him and with him. His mother is confused and 
worries constantly about Chuck. 

Before my son was wounded, but while he was in the war zone, 
he and his unit were given various inoculations. These young 
Marines trusted the chain of command to look out for them. What 
they received was untested, unsafe inoculations of smthrax and 
botulism serum and God knows what else. Those Marines also 
ingested massive amounts of sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and 
other residual elements emitted from the oil-well fires. Sheep, 
camels and humans were dead and dying on a large scale in my 
son's areas of operations. When my son went to sick call and 
complained of pain, he was told that he was all right and to get 
back to his unit as he was fit for full duty. 

Chuck is entitled to $60 a month for his 10 percent 
disability rating. However, since he got a check for $6,600 when 
he was discharged, he apparently can't get any payments for who 
knows how long. The Department of Veterans Affairs is now 
starting to express interest in his case and, hopefully, they 
will straighten out some of this mess. I have already contacted 
Sen. Jesse Helms and Rep. Charles Taylor, who have expressed 
interest in my son's plight. 

I personally consider this a military situation with 
military personnel responsible for my son's condition; they 
should be held accountable for their decisions and action, prior 
to and during the actual ground war. 

I would like particular en5)hasis placed on two decisions: 1. 
to require our personnel to be vaccinated with unproven vaccines; 
and 2. exposing our ground troops to toxic gases from the fires 
when animals were already dead or dying. We do not need another 
Agent Orange situation. There is an article in the Uniform Code 
of Military Justice eibout unnecessarily endangering personnel 
under one ' s commcmd . 

Sarge, your help in ensuring proper care, condensation and 
job training and availaUaility for my son and others in similar 
circumstances is needed. 

--Concerned for My Son 
Waynesville, N.C. 
Washington Xim&fi, July 18, 1992 



85 



A reservist and civil servant wrote: 

Dear Sgt . Shaft : 

I must express my warmest regards and deepest gratitude to 
you and the national service officers of the Disabled American 
Veterans who work out of the Department of Veterans Affairs 
regional office in Washington, D.C. 

Due to the multiple injuries I sustained during the Desert 
Storm war when the hydraulics on an aircraft door failed, causing 
the 3 00 -pound door to collapse on me, I had my Air Force Reserve 
career and Civil Service job abruptly terminated in rapid 
succession, within two years I found myself homeless, without 
transportation and trying to survive on $75 per month and food 
stamps. My life declined from a successful, popular individual 
with all the amenities of life to a person who carried his 
belongings in a canvas bag and was fortunate if he could sleep in 
a shelter for the night . 

I fought hard, with every ounce of my energy and with every 
instinct for survival, acting upon every piece of advice and 
recommendation that was given, but all efforts were failing 
because I was now unemployeible . A lot of people were expressing 
sympathy, and it really seemed that they wanted to help but all 
the lights of hope were being extinguished. 

Then I came to a DAV national service officer who had 
empathy, who knew quick, precise actions must be taken and who 
had the common sense to involve other people who could get things 
done. Thanks, Sgt. Shaft! Due to your efforts, the DAV, and the 
countless other people you were able to get involved in my 
behalf, the hemorrhaging has stopped. I am in receipt of my 
substantial compensation and my life is returning to normalcy. 

With the assistance of VA vocational rehabilitation I am 
very hopeful that I may be cible to gain the skills and knowledge 
that will enable me to be a productive contributor to my country 
again . 

God bless those of you who continue to do strategic battle 
for those who served and are rendered discibled. Thanks to you 
and the DAV, this disabled American veteran is becoming an 
enabled Americcin veteran. 

- -Sammy J. , 
Prince George's County, (MD) 
Washington limsa, November 21, 1992 



A veteran's wife wrote: 

Dear Sgt . Shaft 

I am writing on behalf of my husband, Jimmie, who was in the 
Army for four years. During his enlistment, he served in Saudi 
Arabia from September 1990 to March 1991 (six months, 27 days) . 
His ETS date was May 7, 1993. 

While in the Army, Jimmie became ill. He had syn^toms of 
decreased appetite, weakness, back and leg cranes, cind easy 
bruising. He did make several trips to the sick call but was 
instructed to go home and rest. These syitptoms continued after 
his discharge. Once home, Jimmie sought medical attention at the 
Columbus, Ga., Medical Center and was newly diagnosed with acute 
myelomonocytic leukemia. He was then transferred to the Medical 
College of Georgia at Augusta for further evaluation and 
treatment . 

Jimmie has since received his first treatment of 
chemotherapy and has had bad reactions to his medicine. Since I 
have been at my husband's bedside, we have lost our home due to 
having no income. We have two small children, 3 years and 6 
months old, who have been staying with family. We need help! 

— Renee B. , 
Smith, Ala 
Washington limea, October 11, 1993 

A letter from a military wife: 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I'm a humanitarian, but sometimes an individual just has to 
stamd up amd say, "Enough is enough." 

Our troops originally were sent to Somalia to aid in 
providing food to a starving nation. And that nation still is in 
need of help. But at what point must we say, "Enough is enough"? 
Why must we be the principal nation to suffer heavy losses? 
Because we are the only remaining superpower? How long will that 
last? Our military is spread thin emd downsizing at the same 
time. 

Among the consequences of this course of policy: What will 
we do when Dependents Indemnity Compensation benefits can no 
longer be processed for surviving families of soldiers because 
the tax load is at the limit? Or when young men and women will 
no longer enlist because they are afraid that, should they become 
injured while serving in the armed forces, the government will 
not take responsibility? The questions go on eind on. 



87 



I know Somalia needs help. Let's get mass reinforcements in 
there and take care of business! If not -- and this is my 
preference -- let's get these troops home. Let's not repeat the 
mistake, as in the Persian Gulf, of leaving a tyrant in power, 
and let's ensure that veterans of such conflicts are taken care 
of afterward. 

Let's not repeat the nightmare of the Persian Gulf. Get the 
troops home or do the job right. 

--a Persian Gulf widow. 
New York state 
Washington Times . November 8, 1993 

Another veteran writes: 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I have lived in Illinois for 20 years and left about five 
years ago to serve my country. I was an Airborne Ranger Infantry 
officer in the 82nd Airborne in both Panama and Iraq. When I was 
growing up I was taught that I could do anything I wanted in 
life, so I decided that what I really needed to do was find 
something truly worth doing. I found it in the Constitution, and 
I decided to defend it "against all enemies." Of course the 
budget cuts abruptly ended my career. 

From there it got worse, but combat has given me an 
imperturbability that has allowed me to fight on. In October 
1992 I got sick, and my boss would not let me in to work until I 
went home and got better. I developed red spots, swelling and 
fatigue that no doctor could explain. Ranger school was nothing 
compared with the effort of working 80-plus hours a week in the 
face of my illness. I finally gave in to my mother's demand that 
I go to the VA for treatment . I went every week on my one day 
off to find answers, to no avail. 

During this time my wife, Kelli, had two miscarriages. 
Finally, on Jan. 20, 1993, my son, Alexander Fox, was bom, but 
the doctors gave him less than a 20 percent chance to survive. 
He is still alive but the list of problems is extensive and 
confounding to the doctors. My symptoms have been slowly driving 
me into the dirt . Kelli has begun to develop the same 
difficulties, and the VA has told me they have recommended I be 
sent to the Houston specialty center. 

That means that even though my son, my wife and myself are 
all sick with the same illness, they will only help me when I get 
to the end of the waiting list . 

I have filed for disability, but it will not be approved 
until some sort of service connection is made. My son has been 
approved for SSI, and the Veterans Assistance Commission will 



88 



help us get through hopefully until the end of the year. In the 
meantime I stand to lose my home, my job, my wife, my son, my 
life and my honor. It is the worst punishment for me but I am 
begging for help. 

TJA 
Harrington, 111. 
Washington Times . December 20, 1993 

A veterans plight: 

Dear Sgt . Shaft : 

For 20 years I have tried to apply for positions with the 
U.S. government. For 20 years I have been called a baby killer, 
a drug addict and a murderer because of my service during the 
Vietnam War. The following was the last straw. 

I went to the VA medical center on Irving Street in 
Washington to apply for a position as an administrative officer 
with the hospital . I have the background that the VA posted in 
the personnel circular. I went with my resume and with my 
discibility ruling to the personnel office. I have a 30 percent 
service -connected disability. I filled out an application and 
handed it to the clerk on duty. The clerk went to an office and 
stated to the person inside that I was out in the corridor. The 
person who was in charge of filling the position made a nasty 
comment about "not wanting to talk to me." 

I have heard nothing from the VA since I went to the 
personnel office in December 1993 . They have not called me for 
an interview, despite the fact that I have worked as a deputy 
department administrator at Walter Reed Amty Medical Center, and 
despite the fact that I have experience as an operations manager 
at a nursing home. In addition, I have a degree in hospital 
administration and management and have nearly con^leted a 
master's degree in business mcuiagement . 

I would like you to ask the VA why I was not even considered 
for the job. I also would like to know if it was because I am a 
Vietnam veteran that I was not even considered? 

R.B.T. 
Dale City, Va. 
Washington Times . May, 9, 1994 

The wounds of Vietnam veterams and their families were 
reopened by the publication of Robert S. McNamara's book. The 
hurt eind emger perpetrated on Vietnam vets and their families by 
McNamara's msa culca can be best illustrated by the following 
letter to Sgt. Shaft: 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I was delighted to hear that you had taken a copy of Robert 
McNamara's book, burnt it and placed the ashes at the wall of the 
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington on Memorial Day. I 
thought you and your readers might be interested in my comments 
on Mr. McNamara's book and President Clinton's arrogant 
acceptance of it as a form of absolution for his action during 
Vietnam. I have attempted to share (cuid have shared) my 
comments with other publications. 

After more than 20 years of struggling to put to rest our 
memories, the last thing mciny Vietnam vetereuis needed to hear 
from former Defense Secretary McNamara -- the individual most 
responsible for our experiences -- was that our sacrifices were 
in vain. 

The bullet that entered my chest would have penetrated my 
heart but, by the grace of God, it hit a rib and ricocheted 
through my left lung. A second round lodged in the muscle of my 
right chest. Jagged pieces of shrapnel tore into both my legs, 
abdomen and left arm, and cut my right eye in half. To this day, 
metal fragments remain throughout my body. 

After weeks of surgery and recovery, I regained the sight in 
my eye but lost several feet of my intestines plus my spleen, 
gallbladder, and a portion of my stomach. 

What I did not lose as a result of my wounds on that day in 
July 1969 was my faith in God cind my country, for I was one of 
the thousands of young men emd women who answered their country's 
call to duty to serve in Vietnam. 

Whether the war was "just" is an issue that we veterems must 
reconcile in our hearts cind minds. However, I was not prepared 
to renew my journey of reconciliation through a television 
interview with Mr. McNamara. 

His tears were not genuine, for if he truly felt remorse for 
his mistakes, he would not have promoted his book on the eve of 
the anniversary of the Communist victory in Vietnam. 

Mr. McNamara will profit handsomely from the book and, 
although he euinoxinced his belief that our involvement in Vietnam 
was terribly wrong, he has yet to apologize to the disabled 
veterans that he helped to create or to the families of the 
50,000 young Americans who died after he failed to act on his 
conclusion. 

Never before had American soldiers won every major battle, 
as we did in Vietnam, but, because of men like the former defense 
secretary and his colleagues, we were not allowed to win the war. 



90 



To coii?)Ound the pain. President Clinton was morally wrong in 
his decision to capitalize on the book by announcing that he felt 
vindicated. The president truly believes that either his 
decision not to serve in the military was justified or his 
political advisers have convinced him that the absolution from 
Mr. McNamara will be convenient response to that issue in the 
upcoming presidential campaign. 

Mr. McNamara' s book will not hasten the process of healing 
our country's divided opinions concerning Vietnam: When the 
president of the United States claims that he was right in his 
decision not to serve because he opposed the war philosophically 
and feared its potential impact on his life, new and very deep 
wounds are created in the hearts of those who derive solace in 
the belief that what we did was right because we euiswered our 
country's call to duty. 

I am certain that God will forgive Robert McNamara, but, if 
I can assume the honor to speak for those who did not return 
home, it will be a long time before I cem forgive him for his 
mistcOces . 

Richard Alan Richards 
Springfield, 111. 
Washington limes, October 9, 1995 

As McNamara was writing and having his "you were stupid to 
serve in Vietnam" book published. Postmaster General Runyon was 
sending the same message to Vietnam veterans and other vets who 
chose the Postal Service as their career. In his testimony 
before the Senate Government Affairs Committee, Mr. Runyon 
arrogantly said that under his leadership, the USPS was "... on 
the leading edge of reinventing government, already doing many of 
the things that the Administration, the Congress and this 
Committee want to do for the Federal government as a whole . " 

In his August 11, 1993 column. Bill McAllister of the 
Washington Post reported that Vice President Gore praised 
Postmaster General Runyon for shrinking Postal Service employment 
numbers. The Postal Service mentality is documented in a 
memorandum issued by Mary Blcano, Vice President and General 
Covinsel to the Postal Service, which in part stated that "women 
and minorities cotrprise a large portion of the non-veteran group 
and RIF procedures can affect those employees in a way that 
seriously impairs the affirmative action accon^lishments of an 
organization. " 

As you euid Members of your Subcommittee may recall, Mr. 
Chairman, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) ruled that 
the so-called Postal Service "reorganization" was indeed a RIF. 
This put the USPS into a tailspin as it continued to insist that 
the MSPB reconsider its determination. The USPS was able to get 
the 0PM to intervene on its behalf. In fact, 0PM then formulated 

10 



91 



and circulated draft rules incorporating the Postal Service 
reorganization methods -- which the MSPB had found unlawful. 

As another affront to veterans and their families, 
Postmaster General Runyon and the Citizens Stamp Advisory 
Committee failed to issue a commemorative stamp recognizing the 
supreme sacrifice made by 273 Americans killed in Beirut. As you 
will note from the following correspondence to Sgt . Shaft, Mr. 
Runyon and his functionaries treated the families and friends 
requesting the stamp with scorn. 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

An article in the March issue of the VFW Magazine chronicled 
the history of stands that have commemorated American veterans. 
There is no doxibt that the stirring stamps honoring veterans from 
the Civil War to Desert Storm help reaffirm the values and 
traditions of our great country. 

A newspaper article in December told how the USPS planned to 
issue a total of 102 commemorative stamps in 1994 . In 1993 the 
Elvis stamp became USPS's all-time biggest seller, and it would 
seems to be no surprise that this year's list will include 
commemorative stands honoring a host of entertainers from Bing 
Crosby to the Keystone Kops. Such stan^js make money. 

But, as the VFW article told us, the USPS repeatedly has 
turned down requests to issue a stamp honoring the memory and 
commemorating the sacrifice of the 273 American servicemen killed 
in Beirut in 1983-84. USPS officials reportedly told advocates 
of such a stamp that "not enough people were killed to warrant a 
commemorat ive stan^ . " 

George Orwell 
Rolling Over in the Grave 

Dear Sgt . Shaft : 

On Dec. 20, 1993, you recounted in your column the efforts 
of a concerned former Marine and others to get the U.S. Postal 
Service to issue a stamp commemorating the sacrifice of those who 
died in the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, 
Lebanon. It seems the Citizens Stamp {Advisory} Committee did not 
believe the event worthy of recognition. 

In early Jemuary, the Non- Commissioned Officers Association 
sent a letter asking the postmaster general to reconsider. We 
reminded him that the loss of life in that one day was the worst 
ever suffered by the Marine Corps. In response, Azeezaly S. 
Jaffer, manager of stamp services, thanked us for our interest 
and sent us the February/March issue of a catalog of collectible 
stamps. Presumably, he thinks we might find a suitable 
substitute. 

11 



92 



We found the catalog interesting. Included were 
cotnmemoratives for Legends of the West, including Nellie Cashman 
and Charles Goodnight, whoever the are; for broadcaster Edward R. 
Murrow; and a yellow Chinese dragon that will also adorn 
envelopes. So too will the legends of rock and roll, steam 
carriages, circus wagons, canoes of the 1800s. seaplanes, red 
squirrels and kittens. 

Unfortunately, not one stamp in the book honors military 
service or sacrifice. 

Sgt. Shaft, I urge your readers to let Postmaster General 
Marvin Riuiyon know this is an unacceptcible situation. 

Dick Johnson 

Executive Director 

Non-Commissioned Officers of America 

Alexandria, Va. 

Washington Times . May 23, 1994 

A distinguished Member of this subcommittee. Rep. Constance 
A. Morella engaged in the following dialogue with Postmaster 
General Runyon during a House Committee on Post Office and Civil 
Service hearing on April 14, 1993: 

Mrs. Morella: Since I have this opportunity, I would like, 
again, to ask to postmaster general to reconsider and give 
further thought to a stan^ honoring the 241 of our American 
service men who lost their lives in a multinational peacekeeping 
and humanitarian mission in Beirut, Lebanon, on October 23, 1983. 

Actually there were a total of 273 Americcin service 
personnel lost during that 1982-84 period, along with many allied 
soldiers. I wondered if there could be a reconsideration of the 
stamp to honor them. 

Mr. Runyon: Mrs. Morella, we have reconsidered that 
numerous times. . . . 

Mrs. Morella: I know you have. 

Mr. Runyon: . . . with the Citizens Stamp Advisory 
Commission . . . and their opinion is that we really do not 
commemorate disasters. We do recognize people in service who 
have lost their lives; we will have an issue of stamps issued on 
June 6, which I believe is the fourth issue of World War II 
stamps commemorating the people who served, not just the ones who 
died, but all who served in that war. And that is the basic 
premise that we are using in commemorative stamps. That's where 
we are. 



12 



93 



Mrs. Morella: Of course, there is a concept of the phoenix 
rising from the ashes; that when you have a disaster, from that 
come victory and peace, ultimately. Maybe you will reconsider. 

Mr. Chairman, as I previously mentioned, in the past five 
years the military has released 800,000 military men and women of 
our armed forces due to downsizing. Many of these individuals 
wanted to have the military as a career. An additional 1.5 
million men and women transitioned back to civilian life during 
this same period. Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, many of these men 
and women are not eligible for veterans preference, making their 
transition and pursuit of a federal job much more difficult. 

As one astute writer to the Shaft column pointed out that 
those downsized from the military received less compensation than 
their defense civilian counterparts. 

Dear Sgt . Shaft: 

Let's look at what Congress is doing to reduce the number of 
civilians employed by the federal government and how that 
contrasts with its treatment of military men and women. 

Sen. David Pryor, Arkansas Democrat, and Rep. William Clay, 
Missouri Democrat, have pushed through a package authorizing the 
Department to Defense of offer $25,000 to $37,000 to entice 
30,000 civilian employee to begin collecting their pensions. 

Sen. John Warner, Virginia Republican and Rep. Dan Glickman, 
Kansas Democrat, are sponsoring a proposal to give the Central 
Intelligence Agency authority to pay employees as much as $25,000 
to quit or retire this year. The president is expected to sign 
the bill. 

The House is expected to approve a plan by Reps. Vic Fazio, 
California Democrat, and James P. Moran, Jr., Virginia Democrat, 
authorizing buyouts at the Government Printing Office, General 
Accounting Office and the Library of Congress. 

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of military personnel are being 
forced to go home before they had planned with no added incentive 
or, in some cases, no retirement benefits at all. 

By my calculations, DOD plans to spend a minimum of $750 
million to cut civilian manpower "without resorting to costly and 
disruptive layoffs." 

But costly and disruptive layoffs are acceptable for the 
military. 

Military people -- many of whom put their lives on the line 
every day -- are being forced to shoulder an inordinate share of 



94 



the sacrifice required to cut the budget deficit. Congress' 
failure to keep the faith with the men and women in uniform will 
have significant negative impact on morale and, ultimately, 
readiness . 

--Disheartened Citizen, 
Springfield 
Washington Times . August 28, 1993 

Mr. Chairman, today we have 27,000 troops serving in Bosnia. 
Of those there are 67% white males, 27% Black- Americans, 9% women 
and 4% other minorities. In addition, thousands of men and women 
in our military are playing significant roles supporting not only 
this mission but other troops engaged in hostile areas throughout 
the world. And, we must recognize the importance of their 
support roles when they leave service. 

The following letter will elciborate: 

Dear Sgt . Shaft : 

At the start, permit me to say that I am twice a veteran and 
not a two-timing veteran. There is an obvious and meaningful 
difference in that statement. I believe that it is every 
veteran's obligation and responsibility, especially the few of us 
at the Veterans Administration, to assist any vet in time of need 
regardless of his or her particular problems. I am employed by 
veterans and receive a salary through the VA for my efforts, 
interest and dedication on behalf of veterans and their problems. 

I believe in veteran' preference as a hiring practice, if 
the individual is qualified for the position, and I don't view 
this as "preferential" treatment. I know first-hand what it 
means to have been out of the job market for a couple of years 
and, upon discharge and returning to the "world, " to learn that 
those who stayed behind occupy all the decent jobs with benefits 
and career opportunities. Hence, my letter. 

I received a phone call at home on May 24 from a young, 12- 
year veteran of the Air Force who was honorably discharged in 
October 1994. He is married with two children. He had a 
temporary, part-time job with the Postal Service, delivering mail 
on a rural route and had applied for a full-time postal clerk 
position in his hometown. On May 18, he was selected based on 
his test scores and veteran's preference. 

On May 22, however, he received a letter from a "Human 
Resources Specialist" who informed him that he was no longer 
under consideration for the job because his DD 214 did not show 
that he had been issued a campaign ribbon (for being overseas in 
some country like "Granola" or wherever) , was not a disabled 
veteran, and therefore, as " . . . you failed to furnished [sic] 
proper documentation to support your five points and veteran's 



95 



preference status, your score has been adjusted to remove points 
and preference . . . you are no long under consideration for the 
Carrier position in Brunswick." He called me for assistance. 

I contacted our central office personnel for a 5 USC 
citation to prove the "Human Resources Specialist" was in error. 
My question was met with disbelief, and I was referred to the 
Office of Personnel Management . 

Sure enough, sarge, a veteran is not recognized as such (for 
federal hiring purposes) if he or she is unable to provide proof 
of the issuance of a can^jaign ribbon (foreign country hostilities 
only, please) or is, in fact, disabled as a direct result of 
active duty! 

In this young man's case, he was sent to Dover AFB to assist 
in the bodybag return from Desert Storm and was not issued a 
campaign ribbon. He went where he was told and did what he was 
supposed to do and fortunately was not hurt or wounded . That ' s 
how military people are supposed to perform their duty to their 
country; do what they're told and stay out of harm's way. But I 
am preaching to the choir. 

So, in essence, contrary to the news rhetoric, veteran's 
preference as a hiring practice is dead. 

Sure glad I'll never have the opportunity to make those 
trips again. I regret that these young veterems of the '90s 
can't find assistance when returning to civilian life, get 
adequate medical care for their injuries and troubles, have to 
play catch-up with those who thought it was beneath them to wear 
clothing inconsistent with fads and eating sometimes not -so- 
pleasant yesterday's leftovers. I should have smelled a rat when 
some folks in my agency wanted to refer to them as "our 
customers" and not our vetgr^Hfl 

L.D.R. 
Fredericksburg, Va. 
Washington ximes, July i7, 1995 

Mr. Chairman, in the bowels of the bureaucracy are 
management officials who burrowed into the system while vets were 
burrowing into their foxholes. These sanctimonious individuals 
take pride in circumventing veterans preference and have their 
own incestuous hiring schemes of "You hire my guy, I'll hire 
yours," dealing with close and extended family, political cronies 
and buddies. 

Newly created alternate personnel systems recently approved 
by the Office of Personnel Management have been met with the 
deafening silence of the so-called federal unions. Within these 
"Kingmeister" personnel systems, loyal federal service, job 

15 



96 



security and veterans preference are laughingly ignored, and 
those individuals with targeted disabilities are kissed off. 

Veterans preference can only be a reality if the 
administration and Congress pass legislation that penalizes those 
in the hiring hierarchy who are playing the game of circumventing 
veterans preference. This legislation must be enacted 
immediately as federal agency functionaries are playing foot- 
loose and fancy-free with RIF procedures, trying to succeed in 
circumventing veterans preference where the Postal Service 
failed. Retaliating against those vets and their witnesses when 
they challenge these illegal, abusive personnel actions is 
highlighted in the following letter. 

Dear Sgt . Shaft : 

Not too long ago you p\iblished a letter from John Davis 
concerning his experience with the Army. Mr. Davis described his 
ordeal when his veteran's preference rights were ignored in a 
reduction in force (rif) . I was personally aware of Mr. Davis' 
case since I testified in his favor before the Merit Systems 
Protection Board. Testimony for which I, and my family, have 
paid dearly. 

Even colleagues unfortunate enough to work with me have been 
retaliated against in an effort to discourage me from ever 
standing up for veteran's preference rights again. 

I know, as a woman, that veteran's preference is the 
linchpin on which civil service is built. If it were to go away, 
the Shockwave to us nonveterans would be catastrophic. Since the 
performance appraisal system is so racked with inequities, there 
would be chaos as agencies moved to keep those they liked and rif 
those they didn't; crashing into one wave of political 
convenience after another. This would be especially disastrous 
for the new minority hires as so many of these are veterans of 
Desert Storm. 

Sarge, I can honestly tell you that the last two years have 
been hell. I've watched my husband's health deteriorate as my 
organization tortured him in order to punish me. I've lost the 
program I created. My agency has even gone so far as to deny my 
husband life insurance. I have been rendered irrelevant in an 
agency I loved because I told the truth . . . and worse, because 
I was right . 

On the other hand, the veteran who raised me taught me that 
no right worth having was ever won without a fight. And the 
veteran I married and love would rather fight this battle than 
give up the rights that his service to his country promised him. 



97 



If President Clinton wants veteran's preference changed, 
then let him have the guts to openly propose the law and see it 
debated by the Congress. Underhanded precedential decisions like 
Davis V. Army are disgraceful and dishonest. And it leaves the 
little guy, like me, fighting a battle that should never have 
taken place. 

Susan Odom 
Northern Virginia 

Washington Times . September 11, 1995 

Mr. Chairmcui, today I have tried to put a human face on the 
American veteran and their families and why they need the 
strengthening of veterans preference laws. 57% of all military 
personnel are married and/or have dependents. Many are single 
parents. And, when these military personnel leave service they 
still have the responsibility to provide for their spouses and 
their sons and daughters. Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, we as a 
nation have an obligation to care for those who served. 

To those who question veterans preference, and the need to 
take care of those who answered their nation's call, I respond 
through the words of George L. Skypeck, fellow combat Vietnam 
veteran: 

"Soldier" 

I was that which others did not want to be. 

I went where others feared to go. 

And did what others failed to do. 

I asked nothing from those who gave nothing. 

And reluctantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness . . . 

Should I fail. 

I have seen the face of terror; 

Felt the stinging cold of fear. 

And enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment's love. 

I have cried, pained and hoped . . . 

But most of all, 

I have lived times others would say were best forgotten. 

At least someday I will be able to say that I was proud 

Of what I was ... a soldier. 

Mr. Chairman, for the information of the Subcommittee I have 
attached a bio and some copies of past columns of "Sgt. Shaft". 
Should you and the Members of the Subcommittee on Civil Service 
have any questions, I will be glad to answer them or to get the 
correct answer for you. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to share with 
you the concerns of other veterans. 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF SGT. SHAFT 



Sgt. Shan was hatched in April of 1982 at the home of the veterans' newspaper, Stars 
& Stripes , in Washington, D.C. This moniker combines the name of its creator, John 
Fales Marine MOS in Vietnam "Scout Sgt.," with the military expression when 
wronged, "Shaft." 

Sgt. Shaft's wry sense of humor, empathy for the underdog, and strong love of country 
and fellow veterans closely mirror the nature of its creator. 

The weekly advice column resided in the Stars & Stripes from 1982 to 1985, and laid 
dormant until its rebirth in the Washington Times in 1991. The column, Fales is proud 
to say, gives an outlet for the concerns of active military, veterans, and their families in 
a national newspaper. 

In addition to writing the column, John Fales is a full-time employee with the 
Federal Government and is President of the Blinded American Veterans Foundation. 

Fales was bom in New York City and served in the U.S. Marine Corps until his 
retirement on disability. His decorations include Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Medal, 
Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Medal, New York State Conspicuous Service 
Medal. Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, South Vietnamese Cross of 
Gallantry. 

Mr. Fales received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint John's University, 
New York and Master of Science degree in Education from Hofstra University, New 
York. Among the numerous awards Mr. Fales has received are: The President's 
Medal for Distinguished Service from the Freedom's Foundation; Outstanding 
Handicapped Federal Employee; Blinded Veterans Association's "Irving Diener 
Award"; United States President's Community Service Commendation; Chairman's 
Commendation from the Presidents Committee on Employment of the Handicapped; 
honored by the Vietnam Veterans Civics Counsels as one of Washington D.C.'s 
Outstanding Vietnam Veterans. 

He is a Life-time member of both the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), and 
the American Legion and a Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Marine 
Corps League, AMVETS, Military Order of the Purple Hears, and the National Press 
Club. 

He has been a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland for 19 years and lives with 
his wife, Heea. They are the Mom and Dad of six children. Sgt. Shaft has no twin. 



99 



Despite 
talk, vets 
don't get 
priority 



Dear SgL Shaft: 

I read your Jan. 29 column with 
surprise. In responding to a fed- 
eral employee who questions 
whether veterans preference has 
longevity in the Clinton adminis- 
tration, the reply overlooked the 
tact that President Clinton has 
kept his promise to protect veter- 
ans preference in federal employ- 
ment. This is, as you know, re- 
flected by the increased per- 
centage of permanent jobs going 
to America's veterans over the past 
three years. 

In fiscal 1994, the federal gov- 
ernment hired 37,929 full-time 
permanent employees, of whom 33 
percent were veterans. That pro- , 
portion of veterans to total I'ull- 
me, permanent hires is 73 per- 
ent higher than the average of 
seal 1989, 1991 and 1992. 
It may be helpful to note that 
most new hires, not just veterans, 
enter federal service at the lower 
levels of the grade structure. As a 
matter of fact, 54 percent of all 
new hires enter the work force at 
the General Schedule 7 level or be- 
low. 

In fiscal 1994, the highest con- 
centration of total new hires — 49 
percent — was in the General 
Schedule levels 4 through 7. Fur- 
Jhermore, fiscal 1994 statistics 
chow that veterans hired in the 
)nidlevel General Schedule range 
(levels 8 through 11) exceeded the | 
•private sector and wen proper- I 
itionately represented to the total ' 
percentage of veteran hires. 
!; Mr Clinton has said: "Our na- 
tion owes a great deal to the men 
^d women who have worn our 
country's uniform. The prosperity 
and freedom we enjoy are the 
priceless gifts of their service and 
commitment." 

;■ 1 have the privilege to commu- 
Jiicate this message and try with 
■ihe help of so many, including 
i'ourself. to make these words a 
reality It is my hope that you will 
pass along this encouraging note 
Jo your readers. 

— James B. King 

Director 

Office of Personnel Management 




MONDAY. APRIL 8, 1996 



X>ear Mr King: 

• As you can surmise from perus- 
ing the following lener in my col- 
Jimn, many federal bureaucrats 
are not taking President Clinton's 
words to heart. And, as the adage 
goes, actions speak louder than 
>vords. 

, Ihavealsohadanoppommityto 
iperuse some of the alternate per- 
sonnel systems you have approved 
!with the deafening silence of the 
«>-called federal unions. Within 
these "Kingmeister" personnel 
Systems, loyal federal service, job 
security and veterans preference 
are laughingly ignored, and those 
'individuals with targeted disabil- 
Jties are kissed off. 

J)ear Sgt. Shaft: 

I read with cynicism the answer 
from Preston M. ISylor Jr, assis- 
tant labor secretary for veterans 
employment and training, pub- 
lished in The Washington Times on 
Dec.4. Iworkedforaquasi-federal 
agency that was abolished on Dec. 
ai. For the past 18 months 1 have 
tjeen trying to find employment 
with the federal govenunent. 
I I am a 70 percent disabled vet- 
eran. I possess an M.B A., a B.S. 
^d three associate degrees. I have 
more than 10 years' supervisory 
knd management experience in 

my career field (a field all agen- 
cies utilize). I am currently a 
GS- 13, and I have been rated at the 
GS-14 level. I tell you this to put to 
rest the opinion some may hold 
that veterans are "given" jobs 
whether they qualify or not. 

I have submitted SF171s to the 
Environmental Protection 
Agency; the Internal Revenue Ser- 
vice; the departments of Ttans- 
portation. Energy, Defense, Jus- 
tice, Labor and State; the U.S. 
courts; the Office of the Comptrol- 
ler of the Currency; the U.S. Holo- 
caust Memorial Museum; and var- 
ious other agencies. These SF171S 
were submined for jobs ranging 
from the GS-12 to the GS-14 level. 

1 have run the gambit of re- 
sponses from "not qualified" to the 
"job has been canceled." What I 
have not encountered is the first 
interview or offer of a job. I have 
been talked to with respect by only 
a few of the human resources per- 
sonnel with whom I have dealt. 
Several have returned my ques- 
tions as to the status of the an- 
nouncements with outright rude- 



In one instance, I was told by a 
very helpful individual that I was 
the No. 1 person on the competi- 
tive list and that I had thrown a 
"monkey wrench" into the works. 
It seems that the hiring official 
wanted someone else in the posi- 
tion and could not find a way to get 
around me. Therefore, the position 
was not filled, and the announce- 
ment was allowed to expire. 

Do not think that I have encoun- 
tered only uncooperative people. 
On the contrary. Several have 
been, and continue to be, very 
helpful. What really upsets me is 
that I have paid my dues, and I am 
not asking to be "given" anything. 
The federal government paid out 
thousands of dollars to train me. It 
paid for four of my five degrees, 
and now it will not take advantage 
of what it paid for 

Do I need help? Yes. Have I done 
all I know how to do? Yes. Do I 
believe that President Clinton's ad- 
ministration is committed to help- 
ing the veterans? No! This opinion 
has been formulated based on 
what I have encountered and what 
I have been told, to my face, by 
several people within government 
who are in positions to know the 
prevailing attitudes. 

All I can say now is, if you can, 
Sgt. Shaft, help! 

J.S.R. 

U.S. Air Force (retired) 

Stafford, Va. 



Dear J.S.R.; 

As you can see from my first 
letter, I have brought your unsuc- 
cessful quest to the anention of the 
director of the Office of Personnel 
Management. In the bowels of the 
bureaucracy are management of- 
ficials who burrowed into the sys- 
tem while vets were burrowing 
into their foxholes. These sancti- 
monious individuals take pride in 
circumventing veterans prefer- 
ence and have their own incestu- 
ous hiring schemes of "You hire 
my guy, I'll hire yours," dealing 
with close and extended family, po- 
litical cronies, and buddies. 

Veterans preference can only be 
a reality if the administration and 
Congress pass legislation that 
sanctions those in the hiring hier- 
archy who are playing the game of 
circumventing veterans prefer- 
ence. 

• Send your letters to Sgt. Shaft, do 
John Fales, PO Box 65900, Wash- 
ington. DC. 20035-5900, fax to 
3011622-3330^ or send e-mail to 
SgtshaftCu tmn.com. 



100 




101 



PAGE AlO / MONDAY, JANUARY 29, 19% * 



g^e Iggg^mgton gimc<^ 



Foreign Service ignores 
veterans preference rule 



Dear Sgt Shaft: 

I hope no one is betting any 
money on the longevity of veter- 
ans preference under the current 
administration. You can forget the 
official line being handed out by 
such bureaucratic luminaries as 
Preston M. Tiylor Jr. He may be 
well-intentioned and he may even 
believe what he says, but the 
stronger message is the signal 
that the Clinton in-group has sent 
out for the past 30 years. That's 
pretty clear, isn't it? The military 
is bad, and veterans preference 
disadvantages women. 

Of course it doesn't disadvan- 
tage minorities who serve in dis- 
proportionate levels in the mili- 
tary Here in the State Depart- 
ment, where I am employed (with 
very few minorities in power posi- 
tions), the American Foreign Ser- 
vice Association (AFSA) reads the 
signals very clearly and has 
bluntly stated in its proposals for 
downsizing that, since 80 percent 
of the Foreign Service never 
served in the military, veterans 
preference will not be supporied 
by AFSA. It has already been 
downplayed by State Department 
management. 

Sure makes me feel real good, 
Sarge, to know how much the For- 
eign Service thinks, of the military 
service. 

Perplexed Vet at State 

Dear Perplexed, 

The administration points with 
pride at the number of new vet- 
eran hires in the federal govern- 
ment. However, most of the new 
hires are at the lower levels of the 
grade structure. And this is after 
many years of training and ac- 
quired skills obtained from their 
military service and after they 
have "shown their mettle" and 
have been "all that they could be." 

In fiscal 1994, the number of 
veterans hired for positions in the 
grades GS-1 to GS-15 broke down 
to this: 10,437 men, 2,068 women, 
2,410 bUcks, 900 Hispanics, 429 
Asians, 221 American Indians, 
8,531 whites. 




Most were nired for the lower 
grades: GS-4, 1,586 new veteran 
hires; GS-5, 2,469; GS-6, 1,043; 
GS-7, 998. 

As the scale heads toward the 
higher end of the pay scale, far 
fewer veterans get hired. For ex- 
ample, GS-8, 135 new veteran 
hires; GS-9, 1,001; GS-10, 106; 
GS-13, 328 new hires. 

At the top of the chart, at grade 
level GS-15, 144 new hires: 137 
men, seven women, 10 blacks, 
seven Hispanics, eight Asians and 
119 whites. 

Dear Sgt Shaft: 

In your Sept. 11 column you 
quoted Susan Odom ns saying, 
"Even colleagues unfortunate 
enough to work with me have been 
retaliated against in an effort to 
discourage me from ever standing 
up for veterans preference rights 
again." As one of those colleagues, 
I can testify to the truth of that 
statement. 

We all have to work under con- 
ditions that are less than ideal. I 
have maintained my silence 
through different forms of repri- 
sal. I've suffered for Susan's stand 
in the John Davis Veterans Rights 
case (projects lost, sudden job de- 
tails to jobs no one else wants, de- 
nied credit for work I've been as- 
signed, etc.) for some time. Last 
week's actions, however, scared me 
so badly that I felt I had to speak 



Susan and I have worked to- 
gether for more than 10 years in 
the Army Corps of Engineers. Like 
her, I am the daughter of a veteran, 
the sister of a veteran, the wife of 
a veteran and the mother of a 
newly enlisted son. My husband 
and I encouraged our son to join 
the service, even facing service in 
Bosnia, because we know how 
valuable that training and disci- 
pline can be to a young man. 

As a black woman, I was espe- 
cially concerned for my son's fu- 
ture in these turbulent times and I 
reassured him that the service 
provided the brightest future for 
him. 

Yet as I was seeing my son off to 
service, the Army Corps of Engi- 
neers was busy finding ways to use 
me to further penalize Susan for 
her stand on the John Davis veter- 
ans rights case. They arbitrarily 
and cruelly docked my pay, rather 
than use my leave, then further 
denied ever doing so. Now, I'm left 
to wonder: Will my son return 
home from his tour of duty only to 
have to fight another battle with 
the Clinton administration for his 
veterans rights? 

Outraged and Broke, 
Forestville, Md. 

Dear Outraged: 

The sarge urges the appropriate 
congressional veterans and civil 
service committees to immedi- 
ately hold oversight hearings on 
the shenanigans at the Corps of 
Engineers. 

In the January 1996 edition of 
the American Legion magazine, 
Ken Scharnberg reports that 
court records in a claim involving 
the denial of bumping rights filed 
by John L. Davis, a GS-15 civilian 
employee with the Corps of En- 
gineers, revealed that the corps' 
review board personnel intended 
"to teach Davis a lesson." Those 
same court records contained 
statements that "he ascended too 
fast, so he could descend fast" 
• Send your letters to Sgt. Shaft, clo 
John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Wash- 
ington, DC 20035-5900; fax to 
301/622-3330, or CompuServe 
75533.2304@compuserv.com 



102 



PAGE A4 / MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 1996 



^e Iggg^mgfamgrtmcg 



MSPB member says it's for vets' rights 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

In your Nov. 6 column, a reader 
expressed concern that "Mr. 
[Harry] Redd's anti-strong veter- 
ans preference attitude is prev- 
alent at the MSPB." Please inform 
your readers that the US Merit 
Systems Protection Board takes 
great care to ensure that cases in- 
volving veteran status in federal 
hiring systems is given its full le- 
gal weight and authority as giiar- 
anteed under the 1944 Veterans 
Preference Act. 

Moreover, creative efforts to 
sidestep veterans preference sim- 
ply will not be tolerated by this 
member, nor will any MSPB office, 
administrative judge or depart- 
ment hold a different official view 
on this matter until such time the 
Congress decides to change the 
Veterans Preference Act. I reiter- 
ate Mr. Redd's disclaimer that his 
written or spoken comments re- 
flect only his opinion and have no 
force or influence whatsoever on 
the board's handling of cases in- 
volving veterans preference. 

Antonio C. Amador 
Member, 

Merit Systems Protection Board 

Dear Mr. Amador: 

May I refer you and my readers 
to Mr. Redd's letter in this column, 
which seems to contradict your 
statement that "creative efforts to 
sidestep veterans preference sim- 
ply will not be tolerated by this 
member, nor will any MSPB office, 
administrative judge or depart- 
ment hold a different official view 
on this matter until such time the 
Congress decides to change the 
Veterans Preference Act." Mr. 
Amador, at a time when President 
Clinton is once again putting our 
men and women in harm's way, you 
and your fellow board members 
should be recommending the 
strengthening of veterans prefer- 
ence by proposing strong sanc- 
tions against those managers who 
attempt to circumvent it. 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

In your Nov. 6 column you com- 
mented on my article titled "Let's 
Reinvent Veterans Preference 
Now" that appeared in the sum- 
mer issue of the Public Manager. 
Unfortunately, you mischarac- 
terized both my article and my 
views. 

No, Sarge, I'm not "anti-strong 
veterans preference" as you say. 
Quite the opposite: I'm a strong 



i Shaft 



proponent for proper recognition 
of the men and women who serve 
our country. In fact, as my article 
stated, I am myself a veteran. For 
these reasons, I believe it's impor- 
tant to point out that the current 
approach isn't serving veterans 
well. 

I'm not alone in my view. The 
veterans service organizations 
have joined in expressing unhap- 
piness with veterans preference as 
it currently works. Many federal 
managers don't like it either Con- 
sequently, m.anagers increasingly 
are using legitimate alternative 
procedures to fill jobs. 

If enough managers use the al- 
ternative procedures (where vet- 
erans preference isnt a factor), 
veterans' federal hiring opportuni- 
ties will be reduced. 

My article says the current ap- 
proach "doesn't appear to satisfy 
any stake holder well." Veterans 
organizations agree and under- 
stand that finding ways to imprm'e 
the process is in the best interest 
of those they serve. In fact, veter- 
ans service organizations have 
been working with the Office of 
Personnel Management to iden- 
tify possible changes in the hiring 
process that will not only preserve 
veterans preference but improve 
its application. 

Be fair to your readers, Sarge. 
Let them know that my article of- 
fers two altemati\'es, one of which 
is to "scrap the current approach 
altogether (abolish veterans pref- 
erence as we know it) and estab- 
lish in its place a noncompetitive 
hiring authority" for preference 
eligibles. By not reporting that I 
was suggesting alternatives, and 
by reporting my phrase ("abol- 
ishing veterans preference as we 
know it") incompletely and out of 
context, you have done your read- 
ers and me a disservice. 

lb conclude, I dont believe that 
"change" is automatically bad. 
And like representatives of the 
Disabled American Veterans and 
other veterans service organiza- 



tions, I think the time has come to 
find a way to change how pref- 
erence is granted to eligible indi- 
viduals. I never questioned wheth- 
er it should be granted. 

While you may not agree with . 
my views, I hope you will extend 
me the courtesy of printing this 
response. 

Harry C. Redd m 

Dear Harry: 

I strongly suspect that the vet- 
erans service organizations such 
as the DAV, VFW and the American 
Legion are much closer to my 
views on veterans preference than 
yours. Federal departments and 
agencies already have noncompet- 
itive "VR.A" selection authority if 
they wish to use it. What is needed 
is to treat circumventing veterans 
preference as an act of discrimina- 
tion, and strong sanctions should 
be levied against managers and 
their agencies who are guilty of 
this intolerable behavior. 

Veterans who challenge those 
who have denied them veterans 
preference are put through a maze 
of legalistic hijinks by the same 
agencies that are in existence to 
protect their veterans preference 
employment rights. Veterans 
should not have to pursue reUef to 
a myriad of stonewalling depart- 
ments and boards only to end up in 
court with only mounting legal 
debts to show for their efforts. 

Mr. Redd, I also suggest that 
you, Mr. Amador and my readers 
peruse "With Preferences Like 
These" in the January 1996 issue 
of the American Legion magazine 
by Ken Schamberg. Mr Scham- 
berg describes the trials and 
tribulations of veterans as they at- 
tempt to travel the regulatory road 
of veterans preference only to be 
hampered by bureaucratic, legal- 
istic detours. 

Reiterating what I have said in 
my past columns, Mr. Schamberg 
writes: "The blunt truth is that vet- 
erans preference laws are reg- 
ularly ignored or circumvented by 
federal hiring managers (some of 
whom will go so far as to reject 
entire lists of candidates simply 
because a veteran's name appears 
on that list). Worse, there is little a 
veteran can do to redress the 
wrong." 

• Send your letters to Sgt. Shqft, do 
John Fales, PO Box 65900, Wash- 
ington, DC 2003S-S900: fax to 
3011622-3330, or CompuServe 
75S33.2304@compuserv.com 



103 



Administration official insists 
veterans' preference is secure 



Will stay despite 
'reinvention' of 
the government 



Dear Sgt Shaft: 

I read with great interest, and 
some, disappointment, the por- 
tions of your Nov. 6 column on vet- 
erans' preference in the federal 
government. As a presidential ap- 
pointee and veterans' advocate, I 
strongly support veterans' prefer- 
ence. Since I took office in 1993, 
there has been no change to the 
contrary in this admiiustration's 
signals to me regarding my 
agency's mission to assist veterans 
who feel they have not been given 
preference in their pursuit of fed- 
eral jobs. 

Of the approximately 500,000 
veterans employed full-time by 
the federal government, there 
have been and always will be indi- 
viduals who have questions about 
how veterans' preference has been 
applied to them, or who have dis- 
putes with the system. I appreciate 
your willingness to step forward 
and ensure that the voices of each 
of these veterans is heard. 

However, it is terribly unfair to 
suggest that each of these cases 
represents a hidden Clinton ad- 
ministration agenda to dump vet- 
erans' preference. In fact, what 
the president himself has said, as 
well as the statements and actions 
of his appointees, show that to be 
absolutely untrue. 

President Clinton stated in writ- 
ing on June 22, 1994: "I remain 
committed to preserving the vet- 
erans' preference act With the 
service that veterans have pro- 
vided to this nation, they deserve 
nothing less." 

Qearly, with both political par- 
ties agreeing that the federal gov- 
ernment must downsize and rein- 
vent itself, civil service reform is 
inevitable. I believe that equating 
"reinvention" with "elimination" 
of veterans' preference does veter- 
ans a disservice, and urge you to 
promote constructive dialogue 
about the issue. 

Preston M. Ibylor Jr. 
Assistant Secretary, 



My good friend Preston: 
I have no doubt of vour i>ersonal 




erans' preference. However, there 
is no doubt that a bureaucratic 
game called "Circumvent Veter- 
ans' Preference" has been and is 
being played throughout the fed- 
eral, state, and local governments. 

I have forwarded to you a copy 
of comments by Harry C. Redd 
III, senior research analyst in the 
U.S. Merit Systems Protection 
Board's office of policy and evalu 
ation, which appeared in the sum- 
mer 199S issue of The Public Man- 
ager (referred to in that Nov 6 
column). I understand that his re- 
marks were reviewed by the Of- 
fice of Personnel Management's 
office of diversity prior to publica- 
tion. 

In addition, I have referred tc 
your attention the trials and 
tribulations of VR.G., a Vietnam 
veteran, whose attempts to obtain 
a job with the federal govenmieni 
also have been written about in 
this column. 

The Sarge would happily print 
your next letter relating how you 
as a presidential appointee and 
veterans advocate, have person- 
ally helped VR.G. and other veter- 
ans in need obtain a position in the 
federal government commensu- 
rate with their abilities. 

Dear Sgt Shaft: 

Your columns encourage me to 
write. This does not come easy to 
me, because I prefer to solve per- 
sonal challenges myself. This 
time, however, after all my efforts 
have failed, I would welcome some 
outside support 

I am a Vietnam veteran. My fu- 
ture looked promising in early 
years. I earned a bachelor's degree . 
and a master's in structural and 
civil engineering. Later on I stud- 
ied for and obtained a professional 
engineering license in the states of 
Maryland, Virginia and Pennsyl- 
vania. 

Then I was hit by a series of 
depressions. It was a constant on- 
and-off battle. Not cognizant of the 
seriousness of the condition, I 
struealed tn mninrain rhx hioh iv>p. 



was used to but could not uphold 
the same. 

In March 1988, while I was try- 
ing to work for a Ph.D. in my field, 
I experienced a devastating ner- 
vous breakdown. 

A long, much too long, period of 
unemployment and recuperation 
in my parents' home followed. The 
longer my unemployment lasted, 
the less likely it became to be 
hired. This Is frightening. 

I never applied for financial 
support. I do not wish to receive 
any as long as I can manage on my 
own. Now I am in stable health 
with hardly any medication to 
take. I need to go on with my life 
by obtaining a job and be able to 
support a family 

In having conquered many chal- 
lenges so far, my appreciation to 
hold and fill a job cannot be ex- 
ceeded by too many other people. 

I love my country and served 
when I was called to active duty I 
always led a clean and honest life. 
During the last years I accumu- 
lated a big file of job applications 
to govenunent and the private in- 
dustry None of them materialized. 

I love my profession and kept 
pretty much up to date by taking 
refresher courses at the Univer- 
sity of Maryland and also contin- 
ued subscriptions to professional 
magazines. I helped my aging par- 
ents to keep up with house and car 
repairs and developed mechani- 
cal, electrical wiring and carpen- 
try skills. Many times I took tem- 
porary jobs and did volunteer 
work. 

Although I am qualified in 
structural and civil engineering, I 
would welcome the opportunity to 
work in a different field. 

Tb overcome the odds, I need 
some help, Sarge. May I reach out 
to you for your support to get a job, 
which I, entirely on my own, would 
not be able to obtain otherwise at 
the present time? 

VR.G. 
Edmonston, Md. 

Dear VR.G.: 

I have forwarded your plea for a 
position in the federal government 
to presidential appointee and vet- 
erans advocate Preston M. Ibylor 
Jr Hope this helps. 

• Send your letters to Sgt. Shaft, do 
John Fales. PO Box 65900. Wash- 
ington, DC 20035-S900; fax to 
in I /« 7 7- 1.1.10 or CnmouServe 



I 
f 



104 



gt^e la^ag^ington ^txne^ 



, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20. 1995 I PAGE A9 



LSD guinea pig still waiting 
for some relief from Congress 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

You may recall that I am tire vet 
who was given massive doses of 
LSD at Edgewood Arsenal in 
Maryland during the early 19S0s. 
I have sought relief from the 
Army, Air Force. Department of 
Defense and the Veterans Admin- 
istration, all without success, and 
have been barred from the courts 
by the Feres Doctrine. 

You have supported my efforts 
to obtain relief from Congress. In 
the last session, H R. 3350 was in- 
troduced in the House, cleared 
committee and passed the full 
House. The bill then went to the 
Senate and cleared committee 
with amendments as the 103rd 
Congress came to an end. 

Tbm Davis, my representative 
in the House, has introduced my 
bill in the current Congress, H.R. 
1009. The bill is in committee, 
awaiting further action. I am opti- 
mistic since it is the same bill that 
passed the last Congress 

We still need a big push in the 
Senate, which I expect to come ei- 
ther next month or early next year 

It is a great satisfaction to me to 
observe the reaction of the admin- 
istration and the Congress to the 
recent news of radiation and other 
experimenting in the 1950s and 
'60s. I hope other unwitting guinea 
pigs of the U.S. government do not 
have to wait as long as I have for 
reUef. 

I thank you for all that you have 
done for me in the past and ask for 
your continued support. And 
thank you for anything you can do 
for me. 

Lloyd Gamble 
Fairfax 

Dear Uoyd; 

As you know, I have been in per- 
sonal-contact with Republican 
Reps. Tbm Davis of Virginia, Ger- 
ald Solomon of New York and 
Lamar Smith of Tbxas. chairman 
of the House Judiciary subcom- 
mittee that must mark up and re- 
pot^ out your relief bill. We soon 
will be commemorating another 
Thanksgiving Day. and George 
Washington and our constitutional 
forefathers must be rolUng over in 
their graves as they watch the tur- 
keys, at the Army treat you like a 




guinea pig. lie to you and the Con- 
gress, and then fail to give you con- 
stitutional due process. 

The sarge once again urges the 
House of Representatives to expe- 
ditiously pass the Lloyd Gamble 
private relief bill. H.R. 1009, and 
the Senate to follow suit. 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

A letter in your recent column 
from the Army man who had such 
a rough time with the Army "jus- 
tice" system tore my heart once 

My second of six sons, David, 
was a successful West Point grad- 
uate in the Class of 1977, a major, 
a nuclear physicist and the father 
of two. He had an accident involv- 
ing severe injuries to his wife. All 
the authorities agreed that it was 
an accident until her family 
claimed to those authorities that 
he had tned to kill her 

David was tried in civilian court 
for aggravated assault. He was 
found not guilty. The Army had al- 
ready decided that he was guilty 
of that charge and several others 
that were thought not strong 
enough for civilian charges. He 
was brought to general court- 
martial, found guilty on all 
charges and sent to pnson for 23 
years. The Convening Authority 
awarded his wife about $1,000 
more per month in alimony than 
did the civilian divorce settlement 
that was reached at the same time. 

The Army has approved the nu- 
merous illegal uses of its own 
rules. And a "not guilty" person 
has been trashed and buried with 
no hope of redress — ever. 

David's wife never testified that 
he had ever tried to hurt her TWo 
years after the fall, she filed for 
insurance to cover expenses of 
■'the accident when she fell from 
her husband's arms as he was car- 



rying her." She remarried two 
years after the conviction and con- 
tinued illegally to take alimony for 
two years until the paycheck 
stopped at his dismissal from the 
service. She refused to allow my 
husband or me (the grandparents) 
or any of the Schneider uncles, 
aunts or cousins access to the chil- 
dren 

We won our grandparent nghts 
in courts from New Jersey to New 
York to Kansas and now to Flonda. 
In Florida, she has been found 
"willfully guilty of contempt of 
court" when she refused to obey 
the judge's orders. 

The Army has terribly damaged 
me and my family No one wants to 
admit that the mUitary justice sys- 
tem is less than perfect. No one is 
willing to stand up for what is 
right. No one will listen. No one is 
willing to jeopardize a career to do 
the nght thing. What have we 
come to? 

Patricia Hervey Schneider 
Great Falls, Va. 

Dear Mrs. Schneider: 

Unfortunately the lives of many 
innocent men, women and their 
families are ruined by Pentagon 
policy poltergeists. Those unseen 
policy wonks have created an un- 
fair legal system that eliminates 
due process and at the same time 
fosters double-jeopardy decisions 
adverse to those serving our coun- 
try in uniform 

Your son seems to be one of the 
unfortunate military types whose 
life has been ruined by a process 
without objective recourse It is 
high time that the president, with 
the concurrence of Congress, cre- 
ate a commission to review these 
Pentagon judicial policies and im- 
mediately appoint a civilian re- 
view board to review your son's 
situation and similar cases. 

The sarge's heart goes out to you 
and your husband in the hope that 
you soon will be able to shower 
your grandchildren with love 
• Sendyour letters to Sgt. Shaft, do 
John Fates. PO Box 65900. Wash- 
ington. DC 2003S-5900: fax to 
3011622-3330. or CompuServe 
75533J304SiCompiiserv.com 



105 




107 



S^c JHIog^mgtqn toteg * monday, September 25, ms 1 page as'-^ 

0PM chief responds on lawyer fees, 
suggests appeal in federal court 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I apologize for the delay in re- 
sponding to the information you 
faxed me in June regarding the 
case involving Big Al. The doc- 
ument you sent was the petition 
for review of the Merit Systems 
Protection Board (MSPB) initial 
decision in this attorney fees mat- 
ter filed by Big Al's attorney, 
N.A.C. At that time the MSPB had 
not issued a final decision con- 
cerning the attorney's petition for 
review or the response to that peti- 
tion filed by the Office of Person- 
nel Management (0PM). On July 
31, 1995. the full board issued an 
order In the case, a copy of which 
I have sent you, that denied the 
attorney's petition for review be- 
cause it does not meet the MSPB's 
criteria for review. 

That order, which Big Al and his 
representative should also have 
received by now, states that the 
MSPB's initial decision in this ap- 
peal is now final. If Big Al and his 
attorney choose to appeal this de- 
cision further, judicial review of 
the MSPB's decision is available in 
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 
Federal Circuit, as explained in 
the MSPB's July 31 order 

Since the time for judicial re- 
view has not expired, the matter is 
still under consideration to be in 
litigation. Thus, I am sure you will 
understand that I cannot comment 
about the specific facts in the ap- 
peal, the arguments made by the 
parties, or the MSPB's decision. I 
can say that none of the issues in 
this appear to concern Big Al's sta- 
tus as a veteran. 

Tb give you a brief synopsis of 
this matter, 0PM initially denied 
Big Al's application for disability 
retirement, which he has appealed 
to the MSPB. Following an initial 
MSPB decision that reversed 
OPM's decision, 0PM chose not to 
appeal to the full board and fully 
complied with the terms of the or- 
der by the administrative judge. In 
bther words, 0PM approved Big 
Al's application for benefits and 
put him in a hardship (interim) pay 
status, which included his annuity 
'as well' as a lump-sum payment 
retroactive to his last day in pay 
status. 

Big 'Al's attorney, N.A.C, later 
filed a petition for attorney fees 
that was untimely. 0PM re- 
sponded by filing a motion to dis- 
miss. The administrative judge 
provided both parties the opportu- 
nity to file briefs concerning the 




timeliness issue, then dismissed 
the petition for attorney fees as un- 
timely filed. N.A.C. then timely 
filed the petition for review with 
the full board. This afforded 
N.A.C. further opportunity to sub- 
mit arguments relating to the 
MSPB's regulations regarding fil- 
ing deadlines. 

Again, I regret the delay in re- 
sponding and any distress this 
may have caused Big Al. As I indi- 
cated earlier, he now has the op- 
portunity to pursue this matter in 
the federal circuit if he files a re- 
quest with the court within 30 days 
after receipt by him or his repre- 
sentative of the MSPB's July 31 
order And thanks once again for 
your ongoing interest in our vets. 
James B. King 
Director 
Office of Personnel Management 
Dear Jim: 

The sarge understands that 
there are mitigating circum- 
stances in which one might re- 
spond late to an inquiry, such as the 
tardiness in your response, or even 
to legal time frames. As you know, 
Jim, in 5 U.S.C, section 7701(g)(1), 
". . . the Boara, or an administra- 
tive law judge or other employee 
of the Board designated to hear a 
case, may require payment by the 
agency involved on reasonable at- 
torney fees incurred by an em- 
ployee or applicant for employ- 
ment if the employee or applicant 
is the prevailing party and the 
Board, administrative law judge, 
or other employee (as the case 
may be) determines that payment 
by the agency is warranted in the 
interest of justice . . ." 

In this case, the 0PM and MSPB 
review board bureaucratic barris- 
ters, in the interest of justice, 
should riot have relied only on 
"Gotcha, gotcha" case law, but on 
what is right, common-sense law. 
Dear Sgt Shaft: 

Please advise how I can get help 
for a blind veteran. He served in 
World War II, and I would Uke him 
referred to a blind rehabilitation 
center as he has no other physical 



limitations. He lives close to the 
VA hospital in Allen Park, Mich., . 
but I don't know if this is the place 
to take him. Please advise. 

E.M.M. 
Melvindale, Mich. 
Dear EMM.: 

The sarge has referred your 
friend to the director cf blind re- 
habilitation at the Department of 
Veterans Affairs' central office. 
He has assured me that the VA's 
Visual Impairment Service Tfeam 
coordinator based at the Allen 
Park VA will soon be contacting 
your friend. 

Shaft kudo 

The sarge sadly bid farewell as 
Tips were recently played for his 
friend and mentor, George "Buck" 
GiUispie - a blinded Worid War n 
veteran and pioneer in blind reha- 
bilitation. At the annual reunion of 
the 7S6th Tfenk Battalion Sept. 21, 
a massive heart attack stopped 
this warrior of rights for disabled 
veterans. During World War II, 
Buck served in one of the most 
outstanding combat units in the 
European theater of Operations, 
which participated in seven cam- 
paigns in North Africa, Italy, 
France, Germany and Austria. 
This tank battalion earned 924 in- 
dividual decorations, including 
two Medals of Honor and three 
Distinguished Service Crosses, as 
well as two unit citations. 

For the past 10 years, members 
of Congress who have furthered 
efforts on behalf of sensory dis- 
abled American veterans have re- 
ceived recognition from the 
Blinded American Veterans Foun- 
dation in honor of this titan of 
blind rehabilitation. Another indi- 
cation of the esteem in which Buck 
was held among blinded veterans 
is the bronze plaque that now 
stands at the Department of Veter- 
ans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation 
Center in West Haven, Conn. — 
where Buck once served as chief. 

Because of you. Buck, the lives 
of many blinded veterans and their 
families are much brighter and 
fruitful, including mine. Our 
friend Buck will be laid to rest this 
morning in New Haven. All his 
many friends send their condo- 
lences to his wife, Carol. 
• Semi your letters to Sgt. Shaft, do 
John Fates, PO Box 65900, Wash- 
ington, DC. 2003S-S900; fax to 
301/622-3330, or CompuServe 
75S33.2304@compuserve.com 



108 



PAGE A4 / MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 1995 



g^c Igggtjini^ton gTrnicg 



Couple suffers retaliation at work 
after backing veterans' preference 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

Not too long ago you published 
a letter from John Davis concern- 
ing his expenence with the Army. 
Mr. Davis described his ordeal 
when his veteran's preference 
rights were ignored in a reduction 
in force (rif). I was personally 
aware of Mr. Davis' case since I 
testified in his favor before the 
Merit Systems Protection Board. 
Ttestimony for which I, and my 
family, have paid dearly. 

Even colleagues unfortunate 
enough to work with me have been 
retaliated against in an effort to 
discourage me from ever standing 
up for veteran's preference rights 
again. 

I know, as a woman, that veter- 
an's preference is the linchpin on 
which civil service is built. If it 
were to go away, the Shockwaves to 
us nonveterans would be cata- 
strophic. Since the performance 
appraisal system is so racked with 
inequities, there would be chaos as 
agencies moved to keep those they 
liked and rif those they didnt; 




crashing into one wave of political 
convenience after another. This 
would be especially disastrous for 
the new minority hires as so many 
of these are veterans of Desert 
Storm. 

Sarge, I can honestly tell you 
that the last two years have been 
hell. I've watched my husband's 
health deteriorate as my organi- 
zation tortured him in order to 
punish me. I've lost the program I 
created. My agency has even gone 
so far as to deny my husband life 
insurance. I have been rendered 
irrelevant in an agency I loved be- 
cause I told the truth . . . and 
worse, because I was right. 



On the other hand, the veteran 
who raised me taught me that no 
right worth having was ever won 
without a fight. And the veteran I 
married and love would rather 
fight this battle than give up the 
rights that his service to his coun- 
try promised him. 

If President Clmton wants vet- 
eran's preference changed, then | 
let him have the guts to openly pro- 
pose the law and see it debated by 
the Congress. Underhanded pre- 
cedential decisions like Davis vs. 
Army are disgraceful and dishon- 
est. And it leaves the Uttle guy, like 
me, fighting a battle that should 
never have taken place. 

Susan Odom i 
Northern Virginia. 
Dear S.O.: 

The sarge has shared your con- I 
cems with Jim King, the director 
of the Office of Personnel Man- 
agement. 

• SendyourletterstoSgt.Shaft.cJo i 
John FaJes, PO Box 65900, Wash- \ 
ington. DC 20035-5900; fax to 
301/622-3330, or CompuServe I 
75533. I 



109 



PAGE A6 / MONDAY, AUGUST 28, 1995 * 



For blind VA staiEfer, EEO complaint 
reaps further discriminatory deeds 



Dear SgL Shaft: 

Let me bring you up to date on 
my continuing saga with the De- 
partment of Veterans Affairs' 
equal employment opportunity 
program. After being bypassed 
for a promotion, I filed an FEO 
complaint based on my targeted 
and protected status as a legally 
blind federal employee. Like most 
EEO and affirmative-action pro- 
grams, the VA's policies look great 
on papei; 

Practicing what is preached, 
however, appears to be a different 
maner Since I filed my EEO com- 
plaint in September 1993, my ca- 
reer has taken a noticeable turn 
for the worse. I no longer am al- 
lowed to continue as editor of the 
facility's newsletter, coordinate a 
pilot program on community rela- 
tions, routinely attend staff meet- 
ings and briefings, direct the ma- 
jority of the medical center's 
marketing and outreach programs 
— the list goes on and on. I no 
longer retain the same autonomy, 
responsibilities and professional 
status held before my EEO in- 
volvement I am suffering from 
what you might call EEO whiplash 
or constructive reassignment 

The VA boldly endorses its EEO 
program as a prompt and fair res- 
olution process that prohibits re- 
prisal. As for now, the agency has 
yet to articulate any legitimate . 
nondiscriminatory reasons for the 
adverse actions I have experi- 
enced since filing several EEO 
complaints. Instead of resolving 
these issues at a fraction of the 
cost, the agency now has allowed 
this process to become lengthy in- 
vestigations costing thousands of 
taxpayer dollars. 

While- this entire process has 
been going on, I have seen my ca- 
reer seriously regress. My col- 
leagues are now asking me embar- 
rassing questions and want to 
know why I am no longer consid- 
ered the agency's public affairs of- 
ficer or why my name no longer 
appears on the VA public affairs 
council roster. Fellow staff mem- 
bers ask me why the EEO minutes 
publicly disclosed a report that my 
supervisor had taken personnel 
actions against me. All incoming 
correspondence involving me 
must now be reviewed by the fa- 
cility's front office. Even mail per- 
sonally addressed to me is opened 
before being routed to me. 

When I requested a large- 
screen computer monitor, the em- 
barrassment continued. My super- 
visor responded by calline the 
request a nicety rather than a ne- 




cessity and asked for current doc- 
umentation showing the need for 
such accommodation, despite the 
fact that I entered the federal gov- 
ernment through a Schedule A ap- 
pointment that certified my per- 
manent and severe disability of 
less than 2*200 vision. 

And the embarrassment has not 
been limited solely to me. My EEO 
representative, a disabled Viet- 
nam veteran who uses a service 
dog to enhance his wheelchair mo- 
bility, was ticketed twice by VA po- 
lice after meeting with me. The 
police said that only blind persons 
could have dogs on VA property. 

Shortly after requesting accom- 
modatioru related to my public af- 
fairs duties, I was told by my 
supervisor that I was being reas- 
signed to a different position. 
When I realized this assignment 
would represent a reduction in my 
autonomy, professional responsi- 
bilities and ciu-eer growth oppor- 
tunities, I again filed through the 
EEO process. In turn, my supervi- 
sor presented me with a written 
counseling of criminal miscon- 
duct for ihjk^le in sending out a 
news release announcing a VA 
award, despite my- following the 
same news release procedure that 
I had practiced without question 
for the past eight years and as out- 
lined in my position description. 

It turned out that I was being 
disciplined for the same action 
that had twice won me the VA's 
highest honors in public affairs. 
Again I exercised my right to chal- 
lenge this adverse action through 
the EEO process. My supervisor 
then rescinded a lifetime achieve- 
ment award for which I had been 
nominated by the VAMC chaplain. 
This supervisor openly admitted 
that she had never read the nomi- 
nation criteria or reviewed the 
lengthy application outlining my 
career and community work. 

These and other actions by my 
supervisor continued until De- 
cember 1994, when she went on 
vacation and never returned. 
Throughout this entire episode, 
my health and career have suf- 
fered tremendous setbacks. My 



with the VA's EEO pro- 
gram contrasts an agency that 
boasts of being an EEO leader and 
affirmative-action employer From 
my perspective and that of other 
persons with disabilities, this EEO 
program appears to do more to 
protect itself than those it was de- 
signed to help. 

Although I may not have 20/20 
eyesight, it is the agency that ap- 
pears to lack vision in this case. 
Doghouse Dan 
Reno, Nev 

Dear Doghouse Dan: 

Looks like you're still rolling 
snake eyes at the Department of 
Veterans Affairs. In a message to 
all ■ Department of Veterans Af- 
fairs employees commenting on 
the anniversary of the signing of 
the Americans With Disabilities 
Act, Secretary Jesse Brown 
wrote; This anniversary . . . 
prompts restatement of my com- 
mitment to affirmative action in 
VA's hiring and advancement of 
employees with disabilities. I have 
directed VA senior managers to 
adopt specific performance stan- 
dards for achieving their facility 
goals for representation of people 
with disabilities. They are now di- 
rectly accountable for those 
goals." . 

But since the enactment of the | 
ADA, employment of persons with 
severe disabilities — not only at 
the Department of Veterans Af- 
fairs, but throughout the federal 
government — has decreased dra- 
matically. Let's hope that publiciz- 
ing your plight will lead top admin- 
istration functionaries to review 
not only your situation, but all gov- 
ernment recruitment, advance- 
ment and'retainment policies as 
they pertain to people with tar- 
geted disabilities. 

Shaft kudo 

The Sarge, along with other 
guests, is looking forward to join- 
ing Rep. Bob Stump, Arizona Re- 
publican, and the Non-Commis- 
sioned Officers Association in a 
tribute to Rep. Floyd D. Spence, 
South Carolina Republican. Mr. 
Spence will receive the group's 
prestigious L. Mendel Rivers 
Award on Sept 20 at the U.S. 
Botanic Gardens in Washington. 
Hearty congratulations. Chair- 
man Spence. 

• Write to Sgt. Shaft, do John 
Poles, at PO Box 65900, Washing- 
ton, D.C. 2003S-5900; fax him at 
301/622-3330: or send e-mail to 
75533,2304 on CompuServe. 



110 



PAGE A6 / MONDAY, JULY 31, 1995 ** 



g^ IPog^ington gtmieg 



Prevailing 
veteran 
denied 
legal fees 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I am a retired disabled Navy 
veteran. I contacted you about two 
years ago when I was wrongfully 
discharged from a position with 
the federal government. At that 
time, you put me in contact with a 
veteran lawyer. Even though I had 
no money to pay hira. he took my 
case on speculation that if he won 
the case, the regulations would 
provide for fees. 

We filed an application with the 
Office of Personnel Management 
for a disability retirement. It was 
denied. We went through two 
stages of appeal and finally went 
to a hearing before the Merit Sys- 
tems Protection Board. There, he 
won the case and got me a small 
but much-needed disability retire- 
ment 

When we filed a motion for legal 
fees. It was denied because it was 
four days late There were many 
reasons for the delay, which are too 
long to go mto here. Suffice it to 
say that time-limit rules were only 
applied to the individual and not to 
the govertunent, which was able to 
disregard such limits with impu- 
nity. 

The MSPB is sending a signal to 
all lawyers who might be willing to 
taJte a case such as mine that they 
will do you out of your hard-earned 
legal fees. What lawyers will take 
a case on speculation under so hos- 
tile an environment? 

Without the granting of legal 
fees. I am responsible for pay- 
ment. The conduct of the case took 
hundreds of hours of work. The 
bill is larger than the pension I was 
awarded The only way that I can 
pay this bill is to sell my home, and 
unless my appeal of the denial is 
successful, I may just have to do 
that. 

BigAl 
Fairfax, Va. 




Another item that caught the 
Sarges attention in the Blue Devil 
IS that World War II veterans can 
now buy miUtary medals, ribbons, 
heraldry items and garrison caps 
at post or base exchanges. Pre- 
viously, only retired military could 
shop for these items. The change 
in policy is a result of numerous 
requests to buy these items during 
the many 50th aimiversary com- 
i of WWII, 



Dear Big Al: 

What amazes the sarge is how 
the apparatchiks in our govern- 
ment, after failing to shaft you di- 
rectly, are again trying to shaft you 
by failing to pay your attorney's 
deserved and reasonable legal 
fees. I faxed a copy of your legal 
beagle's petition for review to Of- 
fice of Personnel Management Di- 
rector Jim King, thinking that, 
after assessmg this injustice done 
to your attorney, he would act in 
your behalf. As of this date I am 
still awaiting an answer from the 
Kingmeister, who, last year, with 
fanfare, steadfastly exclaimed 
how great an advocate for \ 
he was. 



Dear Sgt Shaft: 

I was bom in New York City and 
Uved there until 1993, when I 
moved to Virgmia. Dunng the war 
I served with the 88th Infantry in 
Italy The last issue of our associ- 
ation newspaper, the Blue Devil, 
had some notes regarding medals 
that you might want to pass on to 
your readers. I imagine there are 
a few more New Yorkers in the 
area. 

B.R. 
Springfield, Va. 
Dear B.R.; 

As a proud recipient of this New 
York State m edal, the sarge is 
happy to reprint the following item 
from the Blue Devil: 

"Decorated veterans, who were 
residents of the State of New York 
at the time they received at least 
one of some 40 United States med- 
als, may be eligible to receive a 
Conspicuous Service Cross from 
the state. Best bet is to enclose a 
copy (never the original) of your 
discharge (front and back) with a 
letter asking if it is enough to es- 
tablish eligibility for the New York 
State Conspicuous Service Cross 
with devices and certificate. Send 
It to Charles M. Amoroso, CW03, 
NY Army National Guard. State of 
New York, Div MUitary and Naval 
Affairs, 330 Old Niskayuna Road, 
Utham, NY 12110.' 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I would like to share with you 
and your readers my copyrighted 
sonnet on the American flag. It 
was judged the prize-winning 
poem at the International Acad- 
emy of Poet's annual meeting in 
August 1989: 

Bum the American flag? Sot 
mine, you won't! 

There are just so many instills 
that the human heart can endure. 
But burning or spitting on "Old 
Glory" is something you don't 

Cany out. Do not doubt that the 
millions of veterans will cure 

These gratuitous slurs to a sym- 
bol, both sacred and loved. 

By smashing the insolent per- 
sons who bum, and then cry, 
"free speech." 

Justice Brennan proclaimed to 
the world that burning the flag 

Was nothing more than a child- 
ish, and not quite harmless gag. 

He signaled that freedom oj 
speech was American lore: a 
"song" 

Which permitted that "flag- 
burning, hate-niks" his despicable 
day. 

Many patriots think that Judge 
Brennan's message was tembly 
wrong. 

They believe that true justice re- 
quires that dissidents pay 

For burning, or trashing, this 
emblem beloved of ail 

Americans who honor the flag, 
and who won't let it fall. 

Auburn J. Lamb 
Silver Spring 
Dear Auburn: 

A kudo to you and to all the mem- 
bers of the House of Represent- 
atives who voted to pass the flag- 
protection amendment It is now 
incumbent on those in the Senate 
to also listen to the American peo- 
ple and pass this amendment to 
protect this unifying symbol of 
our great country. 

• Send your letters to Sgt. Shafi, cio 
John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Wash- 
ington, DC. 20035-5900, fax to 
301:622-3330, or CompuServe 
75S33.2304. 



Ill 



g^lggg^otfltongtmeg tMONOAY, 



JULY 17, 1995/ PAGE \9r. 



Veteran's preference 
not for all who served 



Dear Sgt Shaft: 

At the start, permit me to say 
that I am twice a veteran and not 
a two-timing veteran. There is an 
obvious and meaningful differ- 
ence in that statement I believe 
that it is every veteran's obligation 
and responsibility, especially the 
few of us at the Veterans Adminis- 
tration, to assist any vet in time of 
need regardless of his or her par- 
ticular problem. I am employed by 
veterans and receive a salary 
through the VA for my efforts, in- 
terest and dedication on behalf of 
veterans and their problems. 

I believe in veteran's preference 
as a hiring practice, if the individ- 
ual is qualified for the position, 
and I don't view this as "preferen- 
tial" treatment. I know first-hand 
what it means to have been out of 
the job market for a couple of 
years and, upon discharge and re- 
turning to the "world," to learn that 
those who stayed behind occupy 
all the decent jobs with benefits 
and career opportimities. Hence, 
my letter 

I received a phone call at home 
on May 24 from a young, 12-year 
veteran of the Air Force who was 
honorably discharged in October 
1994. He is married with two chil- 
dren. He had a temporary, part- 
time job with the Postal Service, 
delivering mail on a rural route 
and had applied for a full-time 
postal clerk position in his home- 
town. On May 18, he was selected 
based on his test scores and veter- 
an's preference. 

On May 22, however, he received 
a letter from a " Human Resources 
Specialist" who informed him that 
he was no longer under consider- 
ation for the job because his DD 
214 did not show that he had been 
issued a campaign ribbon (for be- 
ing overseas in some country like 
"Granola" or wherever), was not a 
disabled veteran, and therefore, as 
". . . you failed to furnished [sic] 
proper documentation to support 
your five points and veteran's pref- 
erence status, your score has been 
adjusted to remove points and 
preference . . . you are no longer 
under consideration for the Car- 



rier position in Brunswick." He 
called me for assistance. 

I contacted our central office 
personnel for a 5USC citation to 
prove the "Human Resources Spe- 
cialist" was in error. My question 
was met with disbelief, and I was 
referred to the Office of Personnel 
Management. 

Sure enougn, sarge, a veteran is 
not recognized as such (for federal 
hiring purposes) if he or she is un- 
able to provide proof of the issu- 
ance of a campaign ribbon (for- 
eign country hostilities only, 
please) or is, in fact, disabled as a 
direct result of active duty! 

In this young man's case, he was 
sent to Dover AFB to assist in the 
bodybag return from Desert 
Storm and was not issued a cam- 
paign ribbon. He went where he 
was told and did what he was sup- 
posed to do and fortunately was 
not hurt or wounded. That's how 
military people are supposed to 
perform their duty to their coun- 
try; do what they're told and stay 
out of harm's way. But I am 
preaching to the choir. 

So, in essence, contrary to the 
news rhetoric, veteran's prefer- 
ence as a hiring practice is dead . 

Sure glad I'll never have the op- 
portunity to make those trips 
again. I regret that these young 
veterans of the '90s cant find as- 
sistance when returning to civil- 
ian life, get adequate medical care 
for their injuries and troubles, 
have to play catch-up with those 
who thought it was beneath them 
to wear clothing inconsistent with 
fads and eating sometimes not-so- 
pleasant yesterday's leftovers. I 
should have smelled a rat when 
some folks in my agency wanted to 
refer to them as "our customers" 
emd not our veterans. 

L.D.R. 
Fredericksburg, Va. 

Dear L.D.R., 

You are on target. Vets like those 
in your letter get Maggie's drawers 
from the government when seek- 
ing veteran's preference. Here are 
the facts from the Office of Per- 
sonnel Management: "Five points 




are added to the passing examina- 
tion score of a veteran who served 
during the period Dec. 7, 1941, to 
July 1, 1955; or for more than 180 
consecutive days, any part of 
which occurred after Jan. 31, 1955, 
and before Oct. IS, 1976; or in a 
campaign or expedition for which 
a campaign medal has been au- 
thorized, including Lebanon, Gre- 
nada, Panama and Southwest Asia 
(Desert Shield/Storm). Medal 
holders who enlisted after Sept. 7, 
1980, or entered on active duty on 
or after Oct. 14, 1982, must have 
served continuously for 24 months 
or the full period called or ordered 
to active duty. The service require- 
ment does not apply to veterans 
with compensable service-con- 
nected disabilities, or to veterans 
separated for disability in the line 
of duty, or for hardship." 

At a time when 30,000 soldiers 
each month must depend on food 
stamps to feed their families and 
countless number of veterans live 
on the streets, it is incumbent that 
our nation ensures the transition 
from active military service to ci- 
vilian life is a fruitful one. 

All veterans released from hon- 
orable mihtary service should be 
eligible for veteran's preference. 
And those federal department 
heads, managers and supervisors 
found to be circumventing veter- 
an's preference should be held ac- 
countable and disciplined, and vet- 
erans wronged should be made 
whole through adequate relief. 

The Clinton administration is in 
the process of preparing a Federal 
Human Resource Management 
Reinvention Act of 1995. It is im- 
perative that not only the veterans- 
service-organiMtion employment 
gurus get involved, but all veter- 
ans must get involved to ensure 
that a strong veteran's preference 
section is an integral part of this 
legislation. 

• Send your letters to Sgt. Shcfi, do 
John Fales, PO Box 65900, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 20035-5900; fiix to 
3011622-3330, or CompuServe 
755332304. 



112 



(T^c j^o^ijington STunce * monday. july j. 1995 page a7 



VA yet to act on 2 vindicated officials 



Dear SgL Shaft: 

Thanks for highlighting in your 
April 10 column the dilemma 
faced by Franklyn K. Coombs and 
Dr. Bruce B. Blasch at the VA 
Medical Center m Decatur, Ga. 

Many will recall in early 1993 
the news about the sexual- 
harassment allegations made 
against Mr. Coombs, director of 
the Rehabilitation Research and 
Development Center, and Dr 
Blasch, associate director. There 
w«re also allegations about fraud 
relating to Mr. Coombs and the At- 
lanta Research and Education 
Foundation (AREF). 

Because of these allegations, 
Mr. Coombs' appointment with the 
VA was not renewed, and Dr. 
Blasch was permanently removed 
from supervisory duces and from 
his position as associate director 
Deborah Hyde, the former em- 
ployee who made the allegations 
that were published m the Atlanta 
Journal Constitution on May 4. 
1993, sued, seekmg $8 million 
from these VA officials. Her suits 
were subsequently thrown out of 
federal court, as was her appeal. 
She was then sued by Mr. 
Coombs and Dr Blasch for libel, 
slander and defamation. The court 
ruled in their favor. In other words, 
It was proven in courts of law that 
Mr. Coombs and Dr. Blasch are in- 
nocent 

Thf. latest article about the out- 
come of ihe lawsuit was on page 6 
of the local section of the Feb. 21, 
1995, edition of the Constitution, 
next to the obituaries. When Ms. 
Hyde made the allegations, her 
picture was in the paper, and the 
story took up almost a whole page. 
Also, the mspector general's inves- 
tigations of the allegations per- 
taining to Mr Coombs and the 
AREF were also favorable, and no 
wrongdoing was discovered. 

My point is that when Mr. 
Coombs and Dr. Blasch were ac- 
cused of sexual harassment, the 
media were all over it. Now that 
the complaintant, Ms. Hyde, has 
mined the careers of these out- 
standing professionals, a small ar- 
ticle is hidden m the local news. 

I wrote a letter to Jesse Brown, 
secretary of the Department of 
Veterans Affairs, on Feb. 23, 1995. 
asking for his personal attention to 
this matter. Needless to say, the 
response I received from his staff 
(dated April 3, 1995) was not help- 
ful I again wrote Secretary Brown 
on May 1, and have not received a 
response as of this date. 

I am unaware of any positive ac- 
tion by the VA to correct the 
wrongs done to Mr Coombs and 
Dr Blasch. I am also curious as to 
what will t>e done to the employees 
still here who supported the alle- 
gations against the two men. 

Ron Cebulski, US. Army 

sergeant major (retired) 

TVicker, Ga. 




Dear Sergeant Major: 

The sarge received a copy of 
this letter sent to Mr. Brown by 
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Maryland 
Democrat: 
"Dear Secretary Brown: 

"1 wanted to bring to your atten- 
tion the enclosed column entitled 
"Sgl. Shaft," from the April 10 
Washington Times. I hope you will 
ensure that everyone involved in 
this matter is treated fairly." 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

My sister is a widow of a World 
War II veteran who died in 1967 
Before his death he received VA 
benefits (35 percent, I believe). My 
sister received VA benefits until 
the youngest of their four children 
reached age 18. 

I v.as under the impression that 
she would receive VA benefits 
again when she reached age 60. 
She says that the VA told her she 
was not eligible for any benefits. 
She is now 68. 

She receives a very small Social 
Security benefit and works part 
time. Please let me know if she is 
eligible for any VA benefits. 

AND. 
Bowie 
Dear A.N.D.: 

I shared your letter with those 



m the know at the VA. The VA 
death benefit is based on qual- 
ifying service and need Age is not 
a factor The current statutory in- 
come limit for an unremarried 
surviving spouse is $448 per 
month. This monthly amount is re- 
duced by income from other 
sources including Social Security 
and wages. 

It appears from your letter that 
your sister is not eligible based on 
income m excess of the statutory 
limit. She may address any spe- 
cific questions to a VA counselor 
at 800/827-1000. 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I served in the Philippines with 
the U.S. Marines during World War 
II and beUeve I am entitled to some 
additional medals; Philippme Lib- 
eration Medal, Philippine Defense 
Medal, Philippme RepubUc Pres- 
idential Unit Citation. World War 
II Victory Medal and the Asia- 
Pacific Campaign Medal. How do 
I go about getting these decora- 



Dear Dick: 

You and other veterans who are 
trying to receive the above-listed 
medals should request application 
forms from the Embassy of the 
Philippines, Veterans Affairs Sec- 
tion, 1600 Massachusetts Ave. NW, 
Washington, DC. 20036; phone. 
202/467-9409; fax. 202/467-9437. 
• Sendyour letters to Sgt. Shaft, cJo 
John Fales, P.O. Box 65900. Wash- 
ington. D.C. 20035-5900. fax to 
3011622-3330. or CompuServe 
75533.2304. 



113 




MONDAY.APRIL 24,\m 



*It warm February of 1992 that 
. I, then attaff sergeant/wasbegi 
Anlng my l6th year in the U.S."A— 
f.I'wajiaSaignedrtj'.thfellthVru-i 
Mnbred Cavalry Regfinerif in Fulda, 
fGermanR and had begun' my tour 
1 ,there^th my family in 1990.. ., t^ 
-'-'■ : month that I was 



Upon my return from the GuljflH 
find out that, becaQafdf a mlstfil^i 

lt?^d«fottfya«T)ntfirm^r4« 

r fand I . were . faeinp'-pnl'e • uno 
r^tainty. If the; DOT wa3«a"care 



irgemissue at former] 



y^^f Defense 



r In my military! 
not one Article IS.Scores on a„ „, .. 
my skill qualification tests are all 1 
90 percent and above. My non-y 
commissioned ' offifc'ef-'fepbrti 
^,would reflect constantlfltfjtimUft 



gRIt wa*n that mi 
wummoiftdlto^e squadron, ser- 
Tgrant major's office, whelT! f.was 
mformed thiti had been seiected 

to be disehargid from the military. , ^^, ^.,^>aiu-,ru.- 

men7lSL,^"^"n^J^ JiJ'^Kt^ i'=°"'*-'''*«*ff«^^«^^ 
•S,hL^^'"/S'^- ™' *^ iment, -letters of co-mm*nda«oni 
^uring ijpenod of time when thsj .and other Army achievements 'S 
|^^edrement,SSB, VSI^voIun-'' *.- Of course I appSl^X-QMp-. 
I^S^2^"°^ programs had be-" ^Bufrwhen my commander ^ 
&W^£ahetfort to downsize the_; jfortaed me that he .— ■- 

• thisQMPUstiti 

foranyofthesd^.., . . 

j<gThe«:Qilalitative 'ManafemeSt 

Prograa is designed to identify 

traits or patterns of deficiencies 

andweaknesses that a soldier has 

in ffOfeCislbff|)rtl«ess to'determinl ' 

whetheSfStSoldien^should'-be r 
iledthebpportdnity 



■" c^•^^•T:^„■■ s 

Shaft Shot jijj-tjr^sr 
The sarge alms a targe 
at former Secretary of t 
[v Robert Strange McNamar 
e- book '.'In Retrospect: The ' 
te and Lessons of Viet Nam." . 
,♦ years - this Harvard-ec 
II eUtisffmallyjteUi the wo 
S, President. Johnsoni had a 
rx ^.1. ,- ,j»'an<inowMr.McNamarais 
«2:*wiff Vliillp^^^ his 30 piecesrot sUver I 
■ ing .about^hoW}ile,';bet^a' 
pre3ident, the country 
finest f ' 

as. pftua dohifaswlio 
["poUdy .of; Jimited Tn'Aj 
•■'-Iding the pollflcaUyrei 

' ahd sodally.icohneetf 



jnr was Selected oifl JpOrt nl6 because,Jn*iswDrdsi.h>i 

It made me ineligible* ^ did- hot kno«^'m?Jrfeltethat ta^ 

!3i programs.^ ., ,^ ! dreams of relirein6i1(,i5^ege-for: 

'°"""" "'•— ^-^ , my, children and the basic ^er- 

; lean dreaih were ovbrV R,«i .^T 

■ ,<. Iff .September 1992. I.;Iiad«fl„ 

cholce_;_but to separate from th6 

(Army^, immediately contactedaj 

New^ Jersey ..congressmancwBU 

opened thy 'cSse to the MifitiflW 

}ra*feiit*a| • f °?f d of Corrections in Februaryl 

for-th*.'Ki.«;r~r,K ■';;.''.^"""^"''l ^^^- ' "'" «''<i t^^n* wouw ""^ 

n/rft^,t^ f H f ^ QMP;\™re «<Jtime before mv.case wai I 



Efr?-™^?^ deficiency dufc w the6fe>'In/unrl99^^ittTai1Sfei¥ed' 

'Through hlrbfricetM^d tha^m?: 



I charge of driving while under the rraeCfeiaiT, 
^.influence bf alcohol that occurred 
f In,1988 (four years earlier) and a 
: physical fitness deficiency due to 



-?S^55e33 test.that I had failed 

i,l?90iOri6 bhVsical fitnesstest fa„- 

;. ure Ifflfi years shows no pattert 6f* 



^ 



' ^'' k'^A-"? !" .^'o'.e'l .tfie,same^ 
month It hadbeen opened:AtrtHae 

jfjjs^fc^toebottom oWiawaltingJ 



.a physical fitness weakness as far 
jas I anf concerned A DOT has no 
■ relaaoaw pattern to the physical 
JitneSstest*,,- v. - •■'■ - ■ 
SRl^^ba oie first to ag^ee that i 

JdonSZ,!?^' 'X'>''.*."°"'' ""■ ' &e-«'^nsjjvouldijioticon"srde"c 
'»^?J^if^* ^,1-- "y <^"«o"3 ^ent 16 happy yearasfta-Jb" 
'C&?^M?'^'" * H^' "^^ '""""^ * my'^lirtry. I waTtl 
.haviMOTs on their records, and .proud that I did - '■-'*" 

howftanyfromthetimethatlsep-: ■.K.D.WJr - ■.-♦'l>k 
*?S«mJ?^"'"'"°?*<^ tt con?ji?IndIanapoU3rrnd5? 
- SV^wel'^reers and retire^Jfll 
MMf^n<Stn is that I \«rS3 allowed i 
-■?S55L*y'8^ 'Charge to continuer 
i""^XSy^'^-- ^''o^^ » re-, 
, enlBt fbi" sCt years, attend the r^dn»- 
jConUttissioned Officers Academyrf 
}re«elT*d orders and took my fam- 

• ''.?j^?™}"^^ent> campaign, 

m tlid Persian Gulf i»*-.V,- ,,.' . 



, . iSitbf „ 

ISd hoWthfArniy can 
ilfyou and other jervice men!? 
irstWhc^ Mrjed^onof^bl^and 
Ith distihction ^ callOidbly^hili 
.'simultaniousls^^treatfai,' ({th*2 
^embers. of ^the iservici^JJiiiort 

,,. 1th a riVerencefdespite miscot>< ^, 

^■wl^^M'S,'^?.?*'?'^'; ^J^'S '-he 'd™ft while, ami'Sh^ 
I W-^w;^'^' ^5J '^.PJ ^ 'o™™g military^standard 
^i?.=n =^ f^l*"^ u'-^ . emit and draft i:iOO,000 
> ,1?c'?"5^""^ '^ ^"^ *''*^ *'*^«» country's socially mi edii 
• f^iH?;!^."i?*'?fr?''f *SS2 ^"^'y •'ii'^dvantagk fbi- ser 
^ablllry.>;«J^^-vJ^^{.^^5^ *n« ..: Vietnam. -J.iO^-;. 

^I app-iitt^JtFe.Mrge tha^t I? rtH Jb ^how. disdain Jor; M 
^ri^„*?i»'^'" ""k^IS^ .Samara's past and recent t 
^SiSi^^i!^gS.^8/j^^ia ■ ^^ "'"''«' Vietnam vet w 
-"■'■. He* chase "In Retrospect," the 
- the wimpish, %unctuous . n 
Then.^on this Memorial Di 
'■ sarge will leave thcashes'ne 
Marine buddy, J.C- Arnold's 
16E, Linell7, at the Vletnar 
erans .MemoriaLrji^«»j 

'.,. • The sarge is looidhg forv 
;ibeing a.guesf.-bfMeUOT«f t 
i^ietnanf vefera)l;lbtt; Rldg 

f;Peimsylvaniac.Bt)lhe56tl? / 
)i;Partner» im Leadership .y« 
; Dinner on April 27 br Pi ttst 
' -jThe sarge._l8 honored 
^breaking bread with felloro 
ans through the VietnanrVe 
iLeadetship f PrograiftaiW^ 
Pennsylvania, whlOh'ft'Mflr 
-to serve feUowTOterSfls/Sei 
mimiryjand tireii 
2*ethe truff ht 

■ •Sendjoto'tett 

.'-John Fales, P.O.Boxr&iOO, 

f\hgtbn,>D.CrK0035-S900'ii] 

3 75^.2304^ -.^,SA^ ^ 



114 



PAGE A8 / MONDAY, APRIL 10. 1995 * 



g^jc Iggg^jingtott gmtcg 



Slandered vets seek reputation 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

In January 1992, front-page 
headlines in The Washington Post 
and Atlanta newspapers, in addi- 
tion to TV news reports, and even 
comments from the floor of the 
U.S. Senate, cited a Veterans Af- 
fairs Office of Inspector General 
report that women at a V.A. medi- 
cal center in Atlanta were asked to 
join an "Itty Bitty Titty Club" by 
their supervisors, Dr Bruce 
Blasch and Frank Coombs. Under 
pressure from Sen. Barbara 
Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, 
the VA promised that no one in- 
volved in the allegations would 
continue as a supervisor. 

The VAMC Atlanta fired Mr. 
Coombs for creating a hostile envi- 
ronment and allowing Dr Blasch 
to make the alleged remarks. The 
VA also permanently removed Dr. 
Blasch from supervision based on 
the allegations of Deborah Hyde 
as reported by the VA Office of 
Inspector General. After the OIG 
report was made pubhc, Ms. Hyde 
sued the VA for $8 million for sex- 
ual harassment. Her case was dis- 
missed. 

The OIG "investigation" did not 
interview any current VA employ- 
ees about the alleged "Itty Bitty 
Titty Club." Another of Ms. Hyde's 
allegations was that "in Coombs' 
presence, Blasch grabbed another 
woman's butt, and said to Coombs, 
'We don't have to worry about sex 
harassment here." " 

Neither the OIG nor the VA hos- 
pital director bothered to ask this 
other woman if the alleged event . 
had ever occurred as claimed by 
Ms. Hyde. 

In a Feb. 17, 1995, civil case, a 
jury found Ms. Hyde lied and Dr. 
Blasch had been slandered by her 
public statements. Since the de- 
cision in Dr Blasch's favor, the VA 
has stonewalled any decision to 
reinstate his supervisory status 
and has refused to discuss Mr. 
Coomb's status. 

The VA has refused to take any 
action to help re-establish the shat- 




tered careers resulting from the 
faulty investigation, the actions 
taken by the hospital director, and 
the publicity the VA report caused 
Mr Coombs and Dr Blasch from 
these false allegations. Further, 
VA Secretary Jesse Brown has ig- 
nored letters from these two Viet- 
nam veterans requesting a review 
of the case and its adverse effects 
on research to aid disabled veter- 
ans. 

We now echo what former sec- 
retary of labor, Ray Donovan, once 
said after he was found not guilty, 
"Now, how do I get my reputation 
back?" 

Dr Bruce Blasch 
Mr Frank Coombs 
Atlanta, Ga. 
Dear Bruce and Frank: 

It is incumbent upon Secretary 
Brown to fully review this travesty 
of justice. Just as sexual harass- 
ment has no place at work, neither 
do false accusations regarding 
sexual harassment. The appropri- 
ate congressional committees 
should hold hearings to review this 
harrowing investigation so that 
your professional reputations are 
publicly restored. 

Dear Sgt Shaft: 

I was in the Air Force from No- 
vember 1959 until August 1963. 
After basic training in San An- 
tonio, Ibxas, I went to Keesler Air 
Force Base for tech training. I had 
a roommate who was a good 
friend, and during the latter part 
of 1960, he set me up on a blind 
date. After we bo.th left Keesler. we 
went our separate ways and have 



never seen each other again. - ■ 

In 1963, I married the girl he 
fixed me up with, and we are still 
married with three great kids. 
Over the years, I have tried many 
times to find Sam L. Davis and 
have never had any luck. I would 
love to be able to tell him he was 
the key to many years of happiness 
for Betty and myself. Is there any 
chance that there is any new meth- 
ods I might use to find him? 

Richmond, Va. 
Dear Dave: Those in the know at 
the Noncommissioned Officers 
Association tell the sarge that the 
Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits re- 
leasing the addresses of former 
service members without their ex- 
press written consent. However, 
the agency below will forward 
your properly assembled mail to 
the former member's last known 
address. 

Please note: A Social Security 
number or serial number must be 
provided for the former service 
member Correspondence that 
does not contain this information 
will be returned to the sender 

It is suggested that you: Write a 
letter to the individual. Place it in 
a stamped, sealed envelope ad- 
dressed to the individual. Include 
your return address. Provide se- 
rial number or Social Security 
number for the individual you are 
attempting to contact. Place the 
first postage-stamped, sealed en- 
velope in a second envelope ad- 
dressed to the following: 

National Archives Records, Ad- 
ministration U.S. Air Force, 9700 
Page Blvd., St. Louis, MO 
63132-5200. 

Any readers of this column who 
may know the whereabouts of 
matchmaker Sam L. Davis please, 
contact the sarge. 
• Sendyour letters to Sgt. Shaft, do 
John Fales. P.O. Box 6S900, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 20035-5900, fax to 
301/622-3330, or CompuServe 
7SS33.23Q4. 



115 



PAGE A12 / MONDAY, MARCH 27, 1995 



^jejgftg^ittgtongfatteg 




Columnist's diatribe 
an affront to veterans 



The sarge fires a salvo at Col- 
man McCarthy, a columnist for 
The Washington Post, for his Feb. 
1 7 effusion, "Glory-Seekers and the 
Bomb." The columnist, like his 
' namesake, Charlie, is a puppet, but 
his strings are manipulated by the 
anti-military, anti-veteran radical 
left. It is Mr McCarthy who is the 
whiner, not the American Legion 
and other veterans service organi- 
zations that, challenged the Smith- 
sonian revisionists on the Enoia 
Gay exhibit. 

Mr McCarthy's derision of Me- 
morial Day and Veterans Day is an 
affront to e'./ery American who has 
ever been "government issued." As 
outrageous as his slamming of 
military service was, Mr. McCar- 
thy's call for our countrymen to 
honor those who failed to serve. 
Those anti-war, anti-American 
renegades gave aide and comfort 
to the enemy and endangered the 
lives of GIs who answered the na- 
tion's call. 

The poster boy of the Umousine- 
Uberal eUte, Mr. McCarthy had the 
gall to' ask Americans to honor 
"the valor and sacrifitfci of consci- 
entioua objectors to wac" Tb say 
that they are "enshrined in Amer- 
ican history" is ludicrous. Mr. 
McCarthy's fellow travelers' cow- 
ardice, under the guise of consci- 
entious objection, are enshrined at 
Pearl Harbor, Auschwitz, Cambo- 
dia, the Holocaust Museum and 
the Vietnam Veterans MemoriaL 

By the way, Mr. McCarthy, what 
do you say to your three sons When 
they ask you, "What did you do in 
the war, Daddy?" 

Dear Sgt Shaft: 

The following is my. letter to 
these key members of Congress: 
Republican Reps. Bob Livingston 
of Louisiana, Floyd Spence of 
South Carolina, John Kasich of 
Ohio, Bob Smmp of Arizona, Bill 
Archer of Tbxas and Gerald Solo- 
mon of New York. 

In anticipation of another con- 
gressional attack on entitlements, 
I want you to know my views of 
annual cost-of-Uving adjustments 
(COLAs) for military retirees. CO- 
LAs for these retirees are not 
handouts or welfare; they are 
moral obligations of the govern- 



ment that date to 1963. At that 
time, military retirees were prom- 
ised annual COLAs to compensate 
for low retirement pay When I re- 
tired from military service in 
April 1963 in the grade of senior 
master sergeant with more than 
21 years of service in the Army 
and Air Force, my monthly retire- 
ment pay was only $218. The only 
way I can cope with inflation is by 
annual COLAs. 

Here is only one example of ris- 
ing inflation: When I became a- 
resident of the U.S. Soldier's & Air- 
men's Home in September 1990, 
my monthly user fee was $234. It 
is now $272.75. Residents now pay 
a monthly user fee of 25 percent of 
their federal income. But starting 
with fiscal '98, which begins Oct. 
1, 1997, user fees wUl increase to 
40 percent of all income for resi- 
dents residing in the dorms and to 
6S percent of all income for resi- 
dents residing permanently in the 
USSAH Health Center. 
. Also, user fees increase with 
each "receipt of COLAs in Social 
Security pay and miUtary retired 
pay When the higher fees become 
effective, my monthly tab will be 
more than $676.00, assuming that 
I receive COLAs of at least 2.8 per- 
cent in Social Security pay and 
military retired pay in years 1996 
and 1997. -:..i 

My monthly fee will then be 
$126.06 more thin my gross 
monthly Social Security pay No. 
consideration is given to the fact 
that USSAH residents have many, 
e5q>enses other than user fees. I 
have financial obligations to fam- 
Uy mtonbers as well as federal and 
state Income taxes. I am now at 
age 76, unemployed, with service- 
connected disabilities that have'., 
been recognized by the Veterans 
Administration^ ; 

Because medical appointmentt 
at military hospitals are becoming 
harder to obtain, even for medical 
emergencies, it is necessary that I 
be enrolled in Medicare Parts A 
and B and have Medicaid supple- •: 
mental insurance. ■ My- present '. 
monthly gross income is $1,599.40. 

I fully understand the Impor- '. 
tance of deficit reduction. Mill- ■ 
tary retirees are willing to make .' 
financial sacrifices to reduce the ''■ 




deficit as long as the sacrifices are 
fair. The Omnibus Budget Recon- 
ciliation Act of 1993, which grants 
COLAs to federal civilian retirees 
on April 1 in years 1994 through 
1998 and a COLA on Jan. 1, 1999, 
while delaying COLAs for military 
retirees from Jan. 1 to Oct. 1 untU 
1999, is not fair or equitable. Tb 
borrow a few words once used by 
President Qinton, this is "wrong, 
wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong." 

Inflation does not discriminate. 
Inflation affects military retirees 
as much as it affects federal civil- 
ian retirees. Annual COLAs for 
military retirees are directly re- 
lated to recruitment and retention 
in the armed forces. Active-duty 
personnel are well aware of the 
steady decline in retiree benefits. 
If pay and benefits for active^luty 
personnel and retirees keep de- 
clining, there surely will be aa 
exodus from active duty when the 
economy improves. 

My question to members of 
Congress: How do you expect me 
to cope with inflation if I do not 
receive annual COLAs? 

Senior Master Sgt. R.RE (Ret.) 
US. Air Force 
Dear RJ>E, 

The sarge empathizes with the 
plight of military retirees. Many 
of our government's contracts 
with its most deserving citizens 
are on the brink of being broken 
due to the hundreds of biUions of 
dollars ripped off by the savings- 
and-loan and the junk-bond scam- 
mers — many of whom are still 
livtag high off the hog. 

For your information. Rep. 
James R Moran, Virginia Demo- 
crat, introduced HR 38 to elimi- 
nate the disparity between the pe- 
riods of delay for civilian and 
military retiree cost-of-living ad- 
justments in the Omnibus Budget 
Reconciliation Act of 1993. Mr. 
Moran was joined by 18 co- 
sponsors when he introduced the 
bill - 

. • Send your letters to Sgt. Shitft, do 
John Poles, P.O. Box 6S9O0, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 2003S-S900, Jax to 
•301/622-3330, or CompuServe 
,75533 J304. 



116 





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lifil 









C/3 






I 11 



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I 






n 



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iiiiiin 




117 



CHAMPUS cut hits' 
disabled retired vets 



r MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 1995 I PAGE AS 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

In 1981 I retired from the Ma- 
rine Corps with 21 years active 
service and became entitled to the 
CiviUan Health and Medical Pro- 
gram of the Uniformed Services 
(CHAMPUS) until age 65. My enti- 
tlement to CHAMPUS was based 
on my retired status. 

I was fonunate to find civilian 
employment but soon suffered a 
heart attack. I was able to work 
full time until 1987, when I was 
medically retired by my civilian 
employer. I was eligible for disabil- 
ity insurance that I purchased, but 
not health insurance. {While em- 
ployed, it was my choice to use 
CHAMPUS or to participate m 
employer-provided coverage.) Be- 
cause my civUian employer and I 
had contributed to Social Security 
for the previous 23 quaners, when 
. I was adjudged to be Social Secu- 
rity disabled I became eligible for 
Social Security Disability Income. 
After 24 months of SSDI (1989) I 
became eligible for Medicare Part 
A and was given the option to pur- 
chase Part B (1995 premium is 
$46.10 per month). 

At age 51, by chance, I learned 
my CHAMPUS entitlement had 
been terminated. The Depanment 
of Defense had ended its responsi- 
bility to provide my "guaranteed" 
health care and "cost shifted" it to 
the Department of Health and Hu- 
man Services under the Medicare 
program, which provides different 
and reduced coverage. 

In 1991, Congress restored 
CHAMPUS benefits as secondary 
coverage to "under age 65 Medi 
care-eligible" retired military 
beneficiaries despite opposition 
from the Defense Department. 
While Congress intended to re- 
store an equitable health coverage 
with Medicare paying the major 
expenses, the law fell short be- 
cause Medicare and CHAMPUS 
are complex programs with many 
undetermined differences that 
leave gaps in dual-coverage sit- 
uations. 

Since the Defense Department 
continues to provide its disabled 
civilian retirees with contmuing 
equal coverage under the Federal 
Employees Health Benefit Pro- 
gram primary to Medicare, I am 
perplexed that in order to save • 
money it treats the disabled mill- ; 
tary retirees and their families 
differently 




Tn December 1994, after , 

attempts to regain my earned 
CHAMPUS entitlement, I filed a 
formal complaint with the com-| 
mandant of the Marine Corps, ^ 
Gen. Carl Mundy Although it is a 
difficult task to file a complaint ' 
with one's service, there seemed to [ 
be'no kinder way to raise this un- ■ 
teiiable situation to a level requir- 1 
ing a thorough examination and 
adjudication by the Marine Corps. I 
The loss of CHAMPUS has re- ' 
suited in financial disaster for 
many other disabled military re- 
tirees. This has caused frustration 
and emotional despair, accelerat- 
ing poor health conditions and se- 
rious family crisis situations. 

"The Marine Corps takes care, 
of its own" is a time-honored tradi- 1 
tion. I hope Gen. Mundy responds! 
positively to my suggestion that he 
initiate a request for legislation re- 
storing eligibility to CHAMPUS as 
primary coverage to Medicare, ac- 
cepting the moral and legal obliga- 
tion for health coverage without i 
discrimination because of disabil- 
ity Alf active-duty personnel and 
reservists and their family mem- 
bers must understand they are at I 
risk of severe disabihty. or end | 
state renai disease and the con- I 
j sequences of a reduced military ] 
health care benefit '^;ih¥n1hey 
whn ,'h "°" ' encourage others 
who share my concern about this 
; "leqmty to express their thoughts 
and support to Gen. Mundy . 

VM.S., UCol. (ret.), USMC 
Springfield 
Dear yM.S.: 

Your, eloquent presentation of 
M ^^'^"^^ yo" and other dis- 
n h, '"'^^'y retirees face high- 
lights the bureaucratic bungling 
of earned health and other benefit 
fn^fh^n^- ^' '^ ''operative that the 
104th Congress parade Marme | 
Corps Commandant Gen. Mundy 
with other defense and govern- 
ment officials, before the appro- 
priate committees which have leg- 
isUtive authority to correct these 
mequiues. Semper fi. 



Shaft kudo I 

At a recent ceremony at the De- 
partment of Labor auditorium, 50 
veterans, men and women, re- 
ceived professional certificates 
for completing an intense, six- 
week course to fully prepare them 
to make a difference in our trou- 
bled inner cities. The Depart- 
ments of Labor and Justice jointly 
provided grant funds to the Na- 
tional Center for Housing Manage- 
ment, which developed and con- 
ducted this Leadership Employ- 
ment of Armed Forces Persormel 
(LEAP) instruction. 

These SO LEAP participants ac- 
cepted the awesome challenge of 
preparing to manage and maintain 
public-assisted housing projects, 
most of which will be located in 
Department of Justice "weed and 
seed" cities. The participants' 
military bearing, dedication to 
mission and commitment to serve 
will be fully challenged as they 
manage these public-housing 
projects and serve as role models 
for inner-city youth. 

The sarge salutes Secretary of 
Labor Robert Reich and Preston 
Taylor, assistant secretary for vet- 
erans employment training, for 
spearheading this initiative. It is, 
however, incumbent upon the resi- 
dents of these neighborhoods to 
fully cooperate with the LEAP pro- 
fessionals to make this program a 
success. This seems to be more 
than another "touchy-feely" fed- 
eral social frolic. 



Shaft kudo II 

The sarge lauds the Arena Stage 
for making its 1994-1995 brochure I 
and all programs available in al- 
ternate format to people who are 
blind or have low vision. Arena 
Stage is the birthplace of audio de- 
scription — a carefully timed nar- 
ration of on-stage action broadcast 
via an inconspicuous FM receiver, 
using the finest audio describers 
from the Metropolitan Washing- 
ton Ear Other accommodations in- 
clude program books in audio- 
cassette format; touch tours of 
backstage areas, sets and cos- 
tumes; and wheelchair accessi- 
bility 

• Sendyour /fitters to Sgf. Shaft, do 
John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 20035-5900, fax to 
301/622-3330, or CompuServe 
75533.2304. 



118 




119 



PAGE A8 / MONDAY. NOVEMBER 21. 1994 < 



g^ Wog^jtegto n gimcg 



Veterans' preference rules shift with wind 



Dear Sgt Shaf i: 
This IS to bring you up to date < 

ence saga with the Army Corps of 
Engineers, a situation you first re- 
ported in August. 

The good news is that the US. 
Court of Appeals will review the 
Merit Systems Protection Board's 






(MSPB) 

cision in Davis 

You may recall that 

member MSPB panel rejected my 

peuaon for review and let stand an 
judge's ruling that 
10 "bumping" nghts dunng 
despite considerable evi- 
to the contrary. This ruling 




r challenge a SO-yearold L 



Consequently, should the ad- 
uuiatratioo prevail before the 
:deral tribunal, agencies will 



r positions.) 



:n up trying to get ahead be- 
aded. I hope I make it through, 
[evity. 
Dazed and Confused Veteran 



gious colleges." 

The plight of veterans rejected 
by the foreign service due to their 
"untouchable" caste status is a 
matter of concern to those of us 
who have experienced the prob- 



Dear Shirley: 

Thank you for sharing your 
experience with the elitist State 
Department The sarge's fax ma- 
chme is also spittinjg out rum- 
blings and horror stories from vet- 
erans at the Federal Deposit 
Insurance Corp. It seems the 
FDIC. with the cooperation of the 
National Treasury Employees 



shock when the fuU MSPB turned 
down my appeal without a cursory 
look. The skeptic 

official. ' 




first reduction-in-force c 

Evenn 
den Ignored undisputed ti 
that the Corps of Engineers icad- 

is out to teach 



• Vowed I WDuldnt bump any- 
body [m the rifl. 

• Boasted it would spend me 
dry [using taxpayer resources], 

• Cbimed I had aligned myself 
too closely with a former [Reagan 
administration] political ap- 
pointee and now "had to pay the 

Finally, my attorney, a recog- 
nized expen in the field of civil 
service law. raised two "legal er- 



ans' qualifications using subjec- 
tive criteria. As such, this new 
standard will become the reduc- 
tioQ-in-force equivalent of movmg 
the goalpost while the kick is m the 



point, sarge. your s 
age draft-dodger will 

of rif protection 



or it "speaketh wii 
tongue." Read on: 

Dear Sgt Shaft: 




Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

As a former appUcani to the U.S. 
Foreign Service, your column of 
Oct. 10 was lUummating. In 1992 I 
met vnth a panel of foreign service 
examiners after passmg the writ- 



explained 
1 naa oeen m tne Air Force, 
exammer said, "Oh, you must 
! bombed a lot of children in 
e days " I explained that would 
1 beyond the scope of my 

Other Vietnam veterans have 
had similar experiences. A former 
Marine told me he was rejected 
after he had inquired into the se- 
lection process. He was told by the 
foreign service examiner: "Our 



_ _ i Democrat, for his out- 
standing House Veterans Affairs 
leadership during the t03rd Con- 
committee's ranking member, 
Rep. Bob Stump, Arizona Republi- 
1 their excellent committee 
staff. Mr. Montgomery halted the 
decimation of the Department of 
Veterans Affairs' health care sys- 

Mr. Montgomery also led the 
fight for a myriad of earned veter- 
ans' benefits, including medical 
care and compensation for aiimg 
Persian Gulf vets. The sarge 



Mr 



: Mr 



public servant grounds and < 



Montgomery's vital leadership 
shoes with the support of Mr 
Montgomery as ranking minority 
member m the new Congress- 
• Send your letters to Sgt. Shafi. ao 
John Fates. P.O. Box 65900, Wash- 
ingicn. D.C. 20035-5900, or fax to 
3011622-3330. 



120 



Glintons 
ignore 
needs of 
veterans 



Dear Sgt Shaft: "^ . 
' With the revelation that Hillary 
I Rodham Clinton tried p enlist in 
I the Marine Corps in 1975, one 
j must wonder what the administra- 
I tion's view and treatment of veter- 
; ans would be if she had been sue- : 
icessfuL 

Coming on the heels of Presi- . 
: dent Clinton's recent Oxford wish 
', that he had "the military experi- 
j ence" to add to his resume and of 
I his "love for the military;;' one can ■ 

only wonder who the smartest 
I woman in the world is trying to 
I impress — certainly, this vet is not 
. impressed by the latest antics of 
\ either of the two commanders in 
I chief. I'm even having a difficult' 
I time "feeling the pain" that both 

obviously are suffering. 

I do believe the Marine Corps 
I should reconsider Mrs. Clinton's' 
, request even at this late date. The 
I Marine Corps, indeed the military 
.services, would benefit. The 
I smartest, woman in the world 
I would at the very least ease the 
\ implementation of expanded com- 
! bat roles for the gentler sex. 
I You can see the 1996 campaign 
I slogan now. "It's the economy, stu- 
Ipid" would be supplanted with 
I "Care for Veterans too, stupid." 

^ L.R. 

! Arlington, Va. 

iDearLR.:' 

j Many Americans and ray read- 
I ers feel that the first couple shows 
k disregard toward military service. 
'This contempt was reinforced by 
! having the Pentagon give the Hai- 
; tian president and defrocked friar, 
I Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a 21-gun 
] salute while Mr. Clinton praised 

him on our White House lawn. The 
1 first couple's abuse of our military 

men and women is disgraceful. 
j The co-presidents' support of 
' Mt Aristide allowed him access to 
I Haitian funds that he used to live 
I lavishly and pay former Maryland 
, Democratic Rep. Mike Barnes and 
' other voraaous lobbyists. These 
I millions of dollars should have 
I been used to feed, clothe and shel- 
I ter the Haitian poor 




,MONDAr. OCTOBER 24. 1994 1 PAGE A9 



The attitude pf this administra- 
tion toward our military and veter- 
ans, fortified by the National Edu- 
cation Association, leaves nothing 
to the imagination as to why our'., 
schools and the doves-turned: 
hawks flying around Washington 



participate in the commemoration . 
of Veterans Day, Maybe .George 
Stephanopoulos should get the 
president a new sign stating, 
"Care for our veterans, and it's our 
economy, stupid." '"[ ; ^^ ■ j 

Dear Sgt Shaft: 

I would appreciate any informa- 
tion you can give me pertaining to 
burial in Arlington National Ceme- 
tery. I am a retired Navy man, and 
I live in the area. In the event that 
I die before my wife, I want her to 
know the proper procedures to fol- 
low in obtaining a gravesite, time 
for burial, honor guard, etc. 

However, if she predeceases me, 
what procedures should I follow in 
having her laid to rest in Arling- 
ton? We hope to be buried in the 
same plot. 

I am told that -t is possible for 
my wife to be buried in Arlingtpn 
as long as I qualify. Any informa- 
tion will be greatly appreciated. 
T . . •.Vi.4,'*-^.-.'.*. C.S.R.^ 

.,» i^mple Hills, Md.. 

Dear CS.R.:''i?R«fca '■'' ' 

Those in the know at the Depart- 
ment of Veterans Affairs tell the 
sarge there are 130 veterans 
cemeteries designated as national 
cemeteries m the United Sutes. 
Some 114 are operated by the De- 
' partment of LVeterans Affairs, 14 
by the Department of the Interior 
and two by the Department of the 
Army At Arlington, eligibiliry re- 
quirements are different than at 
other national cemeteries. 
. Arlington requires the de- 
ceased to be included in one or 
more of th? following categories: 
those who died on active duty; 
those having 20 years active duty 
or active reserve service that qual- 
ifies them for retired pay; those 
honorably discharged for a diS' 
ability rated at 30 percent or more 
before 1949; and holders of the na- 
tion's highest miliury decora- 
tions, including the Purple Heart. 



The spouse or unmarried child 
of any of the above or of any per- 
son already buried in Arlington is 
also eligible. Spouses who die be- 
fore the veteran may be interred in 
a national cemetery prior to the 
veteran, • '.:"■-- 

At VA national cemeteries all 
veterans who were discharged un- 
der other than dishonorable condi- 
tions are eligible for burial, as are 
spouses and dependent children. 

To ensure that all will go 
smoothly when interment is re- 
quested, whether for the veteran 
or the spouse, it is a good idea to 
assemble papers relating to mili- 
tary service ahead of time. These 
would include discharge papers, 
VA claim number, records of deco- 
rations, service number and any | 
other supporting documents. , 
Cemetery personnel will verify 
eligibility at the time of request 
for interment. This is usually done I 
through a private funeral director 

There is no charge for a grave- 
site in any national cemetery, or 
for a government headstone or 
marker Only one gravesite per 
family will be assigned. 

The VA maintains Quaatico Na- 
tional Cemetery in Triangle, Va., 
close to Washington. The cemetery . 
opened in 1983 and has ample 
space to serve area veterans and 
their families well into the next 
century. 

For information about Arling- 
ton, call 703/695-3250; for Quan- 
tico, 703/690-2217. For information 
about national cemeteries m gen- 
eral, call the National Cemetery 
System. Public and Consumer Af- 
fairs Service, 202/273-5221. 

Hope this helps. 
■ Send your letters to Sgt. Sho/J, 
c/o John Poles, P.O. Box 65900, 
Washington. D.C. 20035-5900. or 
fta to 30V622-333O. 



121 



Worker 'excellence' 
doesn't pay at VA 

Blind man's EEO caU foils his future 



Dear Sgt Shaft. 

Allow me to introduce you to 
"Doghouse Dan." 

Since joining the federal gov- 
ernment in 1987, Dan has estab- 
lished himself as one of the VA's 
top-rated public affairs profes- 
sionals. During the past five years 
his work has resulted in six VA 
Public Affairs Excellence Awards 
and two Silver Spikes from the 
Public Relations Society of Amer- 
ica. Not bad for a guy diagnosed as 
legally blind since age 10. 

He wasn't always known as 
"Doghouse Dan." It is a recently 
dubbed moniker Dan could live 
without Despite his VA success, 
upward-mobility opportunities' 
have been difficult to come by Last 
year when his supervisor was pro- 
moted to another facility, Dan saw. 
his opportunity and applied to be 
chief of the pilot program he co- 
developed and managed at the 
Reno, Nev, VA Medical Center His 
outstanding work performance 
ratings, awards, and successful 
work record pointed toward Dan's 
being a logical choice. 

It didn't happen, however, and in 
an effon to ascertain why his qual- 
ifications and affirmative action 
status were not considered. Dan 
exercised his rights and filed an 
EEO complaint. He never antici- 
pated what would happen next. 

Since Dan filed his initial EEO 
complaint and reprisal, his auton- 
omy, scope of responsibility and 
stature as a public affairs profes- 
sional have been diminished to 
that of an office clerk. Regardless 
of past performances, his status is 
no longer equal to that of VA col- 
leagues, and Dan now finds him- 
self leashed in "management's 
doghouse." 

In all likelihood, it may be 
months or even years until he is 
unleashed from this doghouse. As 
someone with a severe disability, 
Dan has dealt with adversity and 
barriers before, yet he never envi- 
sioned an EEO system designed to 
protect Itself more so than his 
rights. Though he jokes about be- 
uig someone who is "out of sight," 
Dan now wonders why EEO and 




affirmative action are "nowhere in 
sight." 

Dan J.S. 
Reno, Nev 
Dear Dan. 

Sounds to the sarge like VA man- 
agement is rolling you snake-eyes 
and trying to hound you from your 
position. I am outraged that the 
big dogs in the Department of Vet- 
erans Affairs Medjcal Center at . 
Reno are having you play Russian i 
roulette with your career, and I ■ 
urge Department of Veterans Af- 
fairs Secretary Jesse Brown to 
personally investigate. 

I have also communicated your 
dicey siniation to Rep. Barbara 
Vucanovich, Nevada Republican, 
and I am certain her good office 
will enter the game. 

I am astonished that some feds 
at the Department of Veterans Af- 
fairs are still ignoring the 1973 Re- 
habilitation Act. Keep pawing and 
good luck. 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

You done good in the response to 
DVA Secretary Brown (June 6 col- 
umn). Keep up the friendly fire 
Another joke and myth is OPM's 
Veterans Recruitment Programs 
This is just Up service, and every- 
one below the big wheels knows it. 
Like Harry S. said, if they can't 
stand the heat. ... 

J.M. (Vietnam veteran) 

DearJ.M.: Bethesda 

Isnt democracy wonderful? My 

good friend Jesse "in his heart 

knows I'm right." 

Shaft kudo 

The sarge salutes Dr Steven Jo- 
seph, the new assistant secretary 
of defense for health affairs, for 



his proactive Gulf War Illness Pro- 
gram. It provides standardi2ed 
comprehensive clinical eval- 
uations to Persian Gulf veterans 
on active duty or m the reserves 

The purpose of these eval- 
uations is threefold. First, to 
assure all those with a health prob- 
lem that everything possible wiU 
be done to look for potential causes 
and exposures that may explain 
their symptoms. Second, to ensure 
special attention is directed to as- 
sisting this group. Third, by publi- 
cizing this through command 
channels, media, and other ways, 
the Department of Defense is at- 
tempting to encourage all persons 
in this group to report for a medi- 
cal evaluation if they have medical 
concerns. 

This effort has been coordinated 
with the Department of Veterans 
Affairs. Further information on 
this program is available by call- 
ing 800796-9699. 

The sarge also lauds Edwin 
Dom. undersecretary of defense 
for personnel and readiness, for 
his poUcy of not separating ser- 
vice members with these symp- 
toms untU there is further clarifi- 
cation of disability entitlements.- 
The Department of Defense is to 
be commended for trying to deal 
with a difficult and frustrating 
problem in an open, forthright, 
and intense manner, and having 
the common sense to designate 
Ronald Blanck, commanding gen- 
eral, Walter Reed Army Medical 
Center, to lead the charge. 

Shaft shot 

The sarge aims a large caliber 
shot at Postmaster General Mar- 
vin Runyon's continued assault on 
veterans and their sacrifices. First 
he and his apparatchiks insult the 
families of those heroes who were 
killed in a terrorist attack in Leba- 
non by not honoring their dedica- 
tion with a stamp, stating noncha- 
lantly, "We don't commemorate 
tragedies." 

Now Carvin' Marvin has tried to 
circumvent and destroy veterans' 
preference under the guise that 
this earned legislative right is det- 
rimental to women and minorities.- 
The sarge is astonished by the 
deafening silence of the politically 
correct crowd when attacks are 
made on Arabs, Christians and 
veterans. 

• Sendyour letters to Sgt. Shaft, do 
John Fales, PO Box 65900, Wash- 
ington, D.C. 20035-5900. or fax to 
301/622-3330. 



122 




&3Utt^tio^m\ 



123 



^c Iggg^ington guncg 



PAGE A8 / MONDAY, JULY 18. 1994 , 



More official reassurance 
on Veterans' Preference Act 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

In response to your columns on 
veterans' preference, in federal 
hiring: Along with Ronald- W. 
Drach, national employment di- 
rector of the Disabled American 
Veterans. I too would like to re- 
quest any documentation you have 
available indicating that the ad- 
ministration is making efforts to 
alter veterans' preference. 

This administration has not 
made any proposal that would in 
any way diminish, restrict or elim- 
inate the preference to which vet- 
erans are entitled, lb be sure, 
there have been many proposals 
made by Vice President Al Gore's 
National Performance Review 
that would make many changes in 
the way the government operates, 
but veterans' preference is not an 
item that is even on the uble. My 
staff and I have been through the 
report of the National Perform- 
ance Review page by page, and I 
noted no reference to changing the 
Veterans Preference Act, contrary 
to what you have reported. 

The report of the National Part- 
nership Council on page 27 states 
clearly, "Statutes regarding veter- 
ans' preference and anti-discrim- 
tnation must also be observed." 
This sutement is made in the Leg- 
islative Proposals section that 
says, "The NPC recommends a 
federal hiring system consisting of 
a legislative framework of govem- 
ment-wide prmciples and flexible 
authorities that form the basis for 
decentralized agency-based hir- 
ing programs." This is the only ref- 
erence to veterans in this report. 

Also, page 10 of the National 
Performance Review draft report, 
"Reinventing Human Resource 
Management," states quite point- 
edly adherence to the Veterans 
Preference Act. The statement 
there strengthens OlTice of Per- 
sonnel Management purview of 
ruhng agency requests to pass 
over veterans with a 30 percent or 
more disabiUty. Again, this is the 
only reference to veterans in this 
report. 

In November 1993, 0PM sub- 
mitted Its Annual Report to Con- 
gress on Veterans' Employment in 




the Federal Government. The 
port indicates that 0PM i 
to place emphasis and provide di- 
rection to agencies on recruit- 
ment, employment and advance- 
ment opportunities for veterans. 
Particular attention is beuig fo- 
cused on disabled veterans, Viel- 
nam-era veterans, and post- 
Viemam-era veterans. The report 
states that the federal government 
continues to be the leader in veter- 
ans' employment. 

Compared with other sectors of 
the economy, it employs two times 
the percentage of veterans; three 
limes the percentage of Vietnam- 
era veterans, five times the per- 
centage of disabled veterans; and 
seven times the percentage of 30 
percent or more disabled veter- 
ans. The report also notes that the 
number of veterans is declining in 
the overall population. For fiscal 
1992, 1S.5 percent of total federal 
hires were veterans. 

Months ago I met with repre- 
sentatives of veterans' service or- 
ganizations. Mr Drach accurately 
reported my sutements in that 
meeting. I assured them that when 
and if the admimstration consid- 
ered any changes, I would alert 
them immediately Tb date, I have 
not had to conuct them. 

As a veteran myself and a past 
commander of a Disabled .'Amer- 
ican Veterans chapter, I whole- 
heartedly support the Veterans' 
Preference Act. At my confirma- 
tion hearings I was asked if there 
are preferential treatment cate- 
gories that warrant review or at- 
tention by 0PM, and I responded 
in the negative. 

Veterans' preference has a long, 
proud history that dates back to 
the Civil War. Preference is fixed 
in law, and there are no proposals 



to change this. 0PM cannot unilat- 
erally change the preference pro- 
visions, and agencies are certainly 
not at Uberty to ignore them Let 
me assure you that we remain sol- 
idly committed to upholding the 
principle of veterans' preference 
and its applications in agencies. 

I appreciate the opportumty to 
set the record straight. 

James B. King, director 
Office of Personnel Management 

Dear Mr King: 

I was happy to break bread with 
you and provide the documen- 
tation you requested, which in- 
cluded select pages from the 
Ment Systems Protection Board 
report "Entering Professional Po- 
sitions in the Federal Govern- 
ment" (March 1994) and materials 
concerning Office of Personnel 
Management's intervention in the 
case of Harvey White vs. U.S. 
Postal Service, Docket Number 
Ph03S190312-I-l. 

I was encouraged by your can- 
dor when you stated that you did 
not realize your decision to inter- 
vene in the White case would cause 
adverse consequences to veterans' 
preference. 

I was also heartened by the pub- 
lic statements made by you; Pres- 
ton Taylor, Veterans Affairs assis- 
tant secretary for veterans em- 
ployment; VA Secretary Jesse 
Brown; and Labor Secretary Rob- 
ert Reich, echoing President Clin- 
ton's pledge on June 27, Veterans 
Employment Day: "As we cele- 
brate the 50th anniversary of this 
important law [Veterans Prefer- 
ence Act], I assure you that this 
administration's support for the 
act has not dimmished. I remain 
committed to preserving the Vet- 
erans Preference Act. With the 
service that veterans have pro- 
vided to this nation, they deserve 
notlung less." 

We must now, however, join 
hands and strengtlien this vital 
veterans' mandate. 
• Send your letters lo Sgt. Shaft, do 
John Fales. PO Box 65900. Wash- 
ington, DC. 20O3S-S90O, or fax to 
3011622-3330. 



124 




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126 



PAGE A6 / MONDAY. MAY 23. 1994 , 



^e BJttotjini^ton STutico 



USPS stamp snub is disservice 
to 273 soldiers killed in Beirut 



Dear Sgt. Shaft; 

An arucle in the March issue of 
VFW Magazine chronicled the his- 
tory of stamps that have com- 
memorated American veterans. 
There is no doubt that the stirring 
stamps honoring veterans from 
the Civil War to Desert Storm help 
reaffirm the values and traditions 
of our great country. 

A newspaper article in De- 
cember told how the USPS 
planned to issue a total of 102 com- 
memorative stamps in 1994. In 
1993 the Elvis stamp became 
USPS's all-time biggest seller, and 
it would seem to be no surprise 
that this year's list will include 
commemorative stamps honoring 
a host of entertainers from Bing 
Crosby to the Keystone Kops. Such 
stamps make money 

But, as the VFW article told us, 
the USPS repeatedly has turned 
down requests to issue a stamp 
honoring the memory and com- 
memorating the sacrifice of the 
273 Amencan servicemen killed 
m Beirut in 1983-84 USPS officials 
reportedly told advocates of such 
a stamp that "not enough people 
were killed to warrant a com- 
memorative stamp." 

George Orwell 
RoUmg Over ui the Grave 
Dear George: 

Read on: 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

On Dec. 20, 1993, you recounted 
in your column the efforts of a con- 
cerned former Marine and others 
to get the US Postal Service to 
issue a stamp commemorating the 
sacrifice of those who died in the 
1983 bombing of the Marine bar- 
racks in Beirut, Lebanon. It seems 
the Citizens Stamp Committee did 
not believe the event worihy of rec- 
ognition. 

In early January, the Non- 
commissioned Officers Associ- 
ation sent a letter asking the post- 




master general to reconsider We 
reminded him that the loss of life 
in that one day was the worst ever 
suffered by the Marine Corps. In 
response, Azeezaly S. Jaffer. man- 
agerof stamp services, thanked i 



and 



the 



February/March issue of a catalog 
of collectible stamps. Presumably, 
he thinks we might find a suitable 
substitute 

We found the catalog interest- 
ing. Included were commemora- 
tives for Legends of the West, in- 
cluding Nellie Cashman and 
Charles Goodnight, whoever they 
are; for broadcaster Edward R. 
MuiTow; and a yellow Chinese 
dragon that will also adorn enve- 
lopes. So too will the legends of 
rock and roll, steam carriages, cir- 
cus wagons, canoes of the 1800s, 
seaplanes, red squirrels and tut- 



or sacnfice. 

Sgt. Shaft, I urge your readers 
to let Postmaster General Marvin 
Runyon know this is an unac- 
ceptable situation 

Dick Johnson 

Executive Director 

Non-Commissioned Officers 

of America 

Alexandria, Va. 

Dear Dick 

As we approach Memorial Day 
you and my readers may find in- 
teresting the following remarks 
between Rep Constance A. Mor- 



ella, Maryland Republican, and 
Postmaster General Marvin Run- 
yon, from a House Committee on 
Post Office and Civil Service hear- 
ing on April 14: 

Mrs. Morella: Since I have this 
opportunity, I would like, again, to 
ask the postmaster general to re- 
consider and give further thought 
to a stamp honoring the 24 1 of our 
Amencan servicemen who lost 
their lives in a multinational 
peacekeepmg and humanitanan 
mission m Beirut. Lebanon, on 
Oct 23, 1983. 

Actually there were a total of 
273 American service personnel 
lost during that 1982-84 penod, 
along with many allied soldiers. I 
wondered if there could be a re- 
consideration of the stamp to 
honor them 

Mr Runyon: Mrs. Morella, we 
have reconsidered that numerous 
times. . . . 

Mrs Morella: I know you have. 

Mr Runyon: . . . with the Citi- 
zens Stamp Advisory Commission 
. . and their opinion is that we 
really do not commemorate disas- 
ters. We do recognize people in 
service who have lost their lives; 
we wUl have an issue of stamps 
issued on June 6. which I believe 
IS the fourth issue of World War II 
stamps commemorating the peo- 
ple who served, not just the ones 
who died, but all who served in 
that war And that is the basic 
premise that we are using m com- 
memorative stamps That's where 
we are. 

Mrs. Morella: Of course, there 
IS a concept of the phoenix rising 
from the ashes; that when you 
have a disaster, from that come 
victory and peace, ultimately 
Maybe you will reconsider 
• Sendyourlelters toSgt Shaft. CO 
John Fates. P.O. Box 65900, Wash- 
ington. D.C. 2003SS900. or fax lo 
3011622-3330. 



127 




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128 



^f)c MttS}i)Ul(^UJn Stiiuco '^monday, may 9, 1994 



Vets' preferences remain in question 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I have again reviewed your 
March 14 article regarding the 
"administration's attack on veter- 
ans' preference." After a second 
reading of the anicle, I have be- 
come concerned that conflicting 
information on the issue of veter- 
ans' preference has been made 
available. 

In a meeting with the director of 
the Office of Personnel Manage- 
ment, James B. King, the Veter- 
ans' Service Organizations (VSOs) 
were advised that Mr. King had no 
intention of modifying veterans' 
preference either in the hiring 
process or in reductions in force. 
He did tell us that in the event the 
administration would pursue any 
changes, he would first consult 
with the VSOs to let us know such 
a proposal was being offered, lb 
this date we have not heard from 
Mr. King. 

Information in your article al- 
leges that Mr. King is "thumbing 
his nose at veterans' preferences" 
and the "administration is at- 
tempting to revise the federal gov- 
ernment's layoff policy . . . reduc- 
ing the importance of military 
service in job protection." 

Because of the seriousness of 
the allegations in your article, 1 
would appreciate it if you would 
furnish me with any documenta- 
tion you have available indicating 
that the administration, either 
through policy, proposed legisla- 
tion or proposed rule-making 
changes, is indeed making overt 
effons to modify veterans' prefer- 
ence as your article indicates. The 
DAV needs to challenge the admin- 
istration if this is indeed happen- 
ing. Thanks for your consideration 
of this request. 

Ronald W. Drach 

National Employment Director 

Disabled American Veterans 

_^ Dear Ron: 

After learning of the scuttlebutt 
concerning the proposed adverse 
anti-veterans' preference lan- 
guage in the National Perform- 
ance Review draft and confirma- 
tion of this in another news report, 
I contacted the information spe- 
cialist at the Office of Personnel 
Management. I offered Mr King 




this column not only to disasso- 
ciate himself from the National 
Performance Review draft but 
also to issue a strong statement on 
veterans' preference and, hope- 
fully, a directive to federal depart- 
ments and agencies to hire veter- 
ans, especially disabled veterans. 

The 0PM chief, however, de- 
clined the invitation. As you know, 
Ron, the administration will be 
holding ceremonies commemorat- 
ing the SOth anniversaries of the 
G.I. Bill and veterans' preference 
in June. These ceremonies will be 
meaningless if they are not accom- 
panied by proposed fast-track leg- 
islation strengthening these 
worthwhile programs. The veter- 
ans' preference laws must also be 
adhered to by federal government 
apparatchiks. As you will see in 
the following letter, this is not the 
case. 
Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

For 20 years I have tried to apply 
for positions with the U.S. govern- 
ment. For 20 years I have been 
called a baby killer, a drug addict 
and a murderer because of my ser- 
vice during the Vietnam War The 
following was the last straw. 

I went to the VA medical center 
on Irving Street in Washington to 
apply for a position as an adminis- 
trative officer with the hospiul. I 
have the background that the VA 
posted in the personnel circular. I 
went with my resume and with my 
disability ruling to the personnel 
office. I have a 30 percent service- 
connected disability I filled out an 
application and handed it to the 
clerk on duty The clerk went to an 
office and stated to the person in- 
side that I was out in the corridor 
The person who was in charge of 
filling the position made a nasty 
comment about "not wanting to 
talk to me." 

I have heard nothing from the 



VA since I went to the personnel 
office m December 1993. They 
have not called me for an inter- 
view, despite the fact that I have 
worked as a deputy department 
administrator at Walter Reed 
Army Medical Center, and despite 
the fact that I have experience as 
an operations manager at a nurs- 
ing home. In addition, I have a de- 
gree in hospital administration 
and management and have nearly 
completed a master's degree in 
business management. 

I would like you to ask the VA 
why I was not even considered for 
the job. I also would like to know if 
it was because I am a Vietnam vet- 
eran that I was not even consid- 
ered? 

R.E.T 
Dale City, Va. 

Dear R.E.T. 

I am sharing your letter with the 
VA's White House liaison and the 
director of the VA Medical Center 
in Washington. Hopefully we'll 
both get some concrete answers to 
your questions and give you the 
employment consideration you de- 
serve. 
Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

Please inform your readers that 
the Third Marine Division Associ- 
ation is seeking the whereabouts 
of former division members, at- 
tached personnel and units. Com- 
araderie and a unique educational 
scholarship program are the ele- 
ments that link our members to- 
gether. For information, call Bill 
Krueger, sergeant major, USMC, 
retired. 703/451-3844. 

Shaft kudo: 

Congratulations to Reps. Leslie 
Byrne, Virginia Democrat, and 
Robert Stump, Arizona Republi- 
can, this year's recipients of the 
Blinded American Veterans Foun- 
dation George "Buck" Gillispie 
Congressional Awards. The sarge 
also applauds Mike Causey, Wash- 
ington Post columnist, and Susan 
Kidd, Channel 4 news anchor, for 
winning the Foundation's Carlton 
Sherwood Media Awards. The 
awards will be presented at a con- 
gressional afternoon reception on 
Capitol Hill on June 14. 



129 



Female K-9 officer 
in Gulf encounters 
sexual harassment 



.MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1994 I PAGE All 



D«ar Sgt. Shaft: 

After i 

Air Force, I finally received my dis- 
ability, which allows me time to pur- 
sue another service- related dispute. 

1 was in the Air Force from Dec 
17, 1987, to April 3, 1991 I got the 
career field that 1 wanted — secunty 
police. As you know, this is a very 
male-dominated career field. As a 
woman, when I entered I was under 
the assumption that 1 would be 
treated equally As my first day be- 
gan, I noticed a difference m the 
en and women But it 



didn't realty hit hard until 1 became 
a K-9 handler. 

At my first assigned base, I en- 
countered quite a bit of chauvinism 
from my male co-workers. Their 
idea of women was tossed at me ev- 
ery day I knew this was wrong, so i 
took a few of them to Social Actions 
1 thought this would be the end of it, 
but I was sadly mistaken The viola- 
tors were slapped on the wnst and 
sent out to harass me again, which 
they did. 

1 escaped twice to Panama, where 
1 earned letters of appreciation, but 
returned to my origmal base and its 
harassment. 

Then Operation Desert Shield 
happened, and I was sent to Saudi 
Arabia. Three other K 9 handlers 
from my base were sent with me, 
along with one from another facility 

Everythmg started going wrong 
when I was approached by a tech 
sergeant who asked me to have sex 
with him. When I refused, he set out 
on a personal vendetta against me 
Then my supervisor got into the "ac- 
tion." He claimed he was helping me 
out by conveniently moving me mto 
his livmg quarters I disputed this 
but was told it was an order 

From there the real trouble 
started. Although my supervisor 
was married with two children, be 
began to make sexual comments to 
me, followed by sexual advances. 

When my relationship with my 
state-side boyfriend ended, I began 
to date, and my supervisor became 
jealous He threatened that if I did 
not have sex with him. I would be 
pumshed (receive an Arucle IS, 
which can mean penalties such as 
extra duty, pay forfeiture and grade 
reduction). I made myself clear that 




I was not'golhg to have sex with him 
We both knew that he could not give 
me an Article 15 or there would be 
an investigation, and he would be 
punished. Time went on, and the sex- 
ual harassment and threats contin- 
ued 1 became seriously involved 
with another single man. My super- 
visor threatened that if I became 
pregnant, I would receive an Article 
IS I was angry My supervisor knew 
that I had been told by doctors that I 
couldn't become pregnant. 

lb my surprise. 1 did become 
pregnant and was told to leave Saudi 
Arabia as soon as possible 

But my supervisor and com- 
mander stopped the process They 
had me retake the pregnancy test 
three times. My supervisor also 
threatened to keep me m Saudi Ara- 
bia and put so much stress on me 
that I would lose the baby 

All his threats came true. While 1 
was fightmg for the life of my child, 
my commander handed me papers 
for an Article IS. Because of this I 

lost my baby.-.u, . 

from the hospital I was given an Ar- 
ticle IS and sent back to my base in 
•ftxas. 

1 knew I could get some help in the 
United States But to my astonish- 
ment my first sergeant threatened 
to discharge me if I went to Social 
Action about the sexual harassment. 
The day I went in and made the 
charges, I was given the processing 
paperwork for a 39-10 discharge. A 
monih later I discharged under hon- 
orable conditions lb this day I am 
fighting an appeal But it has now 
been more than two years, and all the 
answers 1 receive from the govern- 
ment are lies 

I blame my supervisors, the com- 
mander and the US Air Force for 
the murder of my unborn child, and 
also for my discharge. 

Please, if you can help me in any 
way. I'd be deeply appreciative, 

M.W. 
.Calif, 



Dear M.W: 

Your letter highlights the complex 
social issues facing our co-ed mili- 
tary today and for this reason, the 
Department of Veterans Affairs is 
attempting to deal with the after- 
math of situations like yours. 

The Women Veterans Health Pro- 
grams Act of 1992 authorized new 
and expanded services for women 
veterans, including counseling for 
sexual trauma on a pnority basis 
(along with specific health services 
for women and full-time women vet- 
erans coordinators in the four VA 
medical regions). At VA's nationwide 
network of 201 vet centers, the high- 
est percentage of women reporting 
sexual harassment or assault are 
Persian Gulf war veterans, which 
may reflect both changed attitudes 
about reponing these events and the 
larger number of women who 
served in the Gulf 

lb respond to the legislation, the 
VA has augmented staff at 69 vet 
centers with full- and part-time 
counselors who have specialized 
skills in providing counseling to 
women for the aftereffects of sexual 
trauma. Women veterans who have 
served during any wartime or 
peacetime era are eligible 

The sarge urges you to contact 
your nearest VA medical center for 
assistance The sarge also urges 
Congress to commission an outside, 
objective panel to review the impact 

also to revisit the new women-in- 
combat policies. The sarge recom- 
mends that this objective panel con- 
sist of Rush Limbaugh, Pat Bu- 
chanan and G. Gordon Liddy; how- 
ever, Mrs Shaft favors Rep. Patricia 
Schroeder. Gloria Steinem and Bella 
Abzug. 

Send your letters to Sgt Shaft, cio 
John Fates. P.O Box 65900, Washing- 
ton, DC 20035-5900 or fax lo 
J01/622-3JJO. 



130 



Beirut veterans 
lose their fight for 
stamp of approval 



Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

A young Manne who served in 
Beirut al the lime of the bombing 
recently reminded me that 10 years 
has passed since that tragic event 
He also shared a letter that indicates 
Mannes and their families ran into 
a stone wall trying to get approval 
from the US Postal Service for a 

What's going on' The Postal Ser- 
anything 



Elvis, but some knucklehead turns 
down the Beirut stamp because he 
thinks the loss of 241 Amencan lives 
in one day "lacks significance " 

This is absurd- What can people 
do to get the Postal Service to wake 



Dear Concerned 

The sarge's first reaction to your 
letter was astonishment However, in 
this era of feticide frenzy, homo 
promo, turkey-baster babies, pupil 
prophylactic proliferation, jaun- 
diced judges, cocaine kooks and 
Donahue, nothing should surprise 
me and the pundits are wonder- 
ing why Rush Limbaugh is so pop- 
ular For the postal apparatchiks to 
stamp out honoring these peace- 
keeping US heroes is outrageous, 
and the sarge has personally con- 
veyed these sentiments to Postmas- 
ter General Marvin Runyon and 
Rep Constance .Morella. Maryland 
Republican, 




bat has given me an imperturbabil- 
ity that has allowed me to fight on In 
October 1992 I got sick, and my boss 
would not let me in to work until 1 
vwnt home and got better I devel- 
oped red spots, swelling and fatigue 
that no doctor could explain. Ranger 
school was nothing compared with 
the effort of working 80-plus hours a 
week in the face of my illness. I fi- 
nally gave in to my mother's demand 
that I go to the VA for treatment. I 
went every week on my one day off 
to find answers, to no avail 



to Mr Runyon remarked, the state- 
ment from a postal employee indi- 
cating this killing "lacks signifi- 

compounded with the statement, 
"not enough people were killed to 

IS ludicrous, insulting and clearly in- 
dicates that those who died in the 
name of peace surely died m vain 
Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I have lived in Illinois for 20 years 
and left about five years ago to serve 
my country I was an Airborne 
Ranger Infantry officer in the 82nd 
Airborne in both Panama and Iraq 
When I was growing up I was taught 
that 1 could do anything I wanted in 
life, so I decided that what I really 
needed to do was find something 
truly worth doing I found ii in the 
Constitution, and 1 decided to defend 
It ""against all enemies " Of course 
the budget cuts abruptly ended my 
career. 



Dunng 


; this time my wife. Kelli. 


had two 


miscarriages Finally on 


Jan. 20. 


1993. my son. Alexander 


Fox. was 


bom. but the doctors gave 


him less I 


;han a 20 percent chance to 


survive. 1 


He is still alive, but the list 


of proble 


ms IS extensive and con- 


founding 


to the doctors. My symp- 


toms have been slowly dnving me 


into the 


dirt Kelh has begun to de- 


velop th( 


; same difficulties, and the 


VA has 


told me they have recom- 


mended 


1 be sent to the Houston spe- 


cialty ce 




That I 


neans that even though my 


son. my 


wife and myself are all sick 


with the 


same illness, they will only 


help me 


when I get to the end of the 


wailing i 


list. 


I hav< 


: filed for disability but it 


will not 1 


be approved until some sort 


of servi, 




son has 


been approved for SSI. and 


the Veterans Assistance Commis- 


sion will 


1 help us get through hope- 


fully unl 


iil the end of the year In tlie 


meantime 1 stand to lose my home. 


my job. 1 


my wife, my son. my life and 


my bono 


r It IS the worst punishment 


for me. 1 


3ut 1 am begging for help 



PAGE AlO / MONDAY. DECEMBER 20. 1993 , 



Dear TJA 

I have contacted Bob Brien at 
the Veterans Leadership Program in 
Chicago, and Bob and his cadre of 
volunteers reacted to your plight like 
gangbusters He assured me they 
will immediately provide you and 
your family with a small grant and 
will continue to act as a lifeline with 
local, state and federal bu- 
reaucracies until you and your fam- 
ily get on your feet Keep in touch 
Dear Sgt- Shaft; 

It grates like a nail on a 
blackboard to read "Shaft kudo " The 
singular of kudos is kudos, not kudo 
Do 50 push-ups and field strip your 
Webster's and sleep with it tonight. 
FR.Cpl. USMClRel.) 
Chevy Chase 

Dear FR : 

Picky picky, picky From Web- 
ster's II, New Riverside University 
Dictionary "The word kudos is ety- 
mologically a singular form, a mod- 
ern borrowing of Greek kudos, 
"glory, renown." In very recent times, 
however kudos has been reanalyzed 
as a plural form and consequently a 
new singular kudo sometimes oc- 
curs Certain features of kudos pre- 
dispose it to this kind of treatment. 
In the first place, it is an unfamiliar 
word, drawn from the vocabulary of 
Homer by academic and learned 
persons. In their usage, it did not 
often occur as the subject of a sen- 
tence, where the verb could provide 
a clue to whether kudos was singular 
or plural. 

"Secondly kudos has no recorded 
plural in English A person unfamil- 
iar with Homeric Greek who saw the 
form kudos in an English publication 
would be likely to interpret it as the 
regular plural of a noun ending in o. 
like typos for typo and altos for alto " 
• Send your letters to Sgt. Shaft. 
Co John Fales, PO Box 65900, Wash- 
ington, D C 20O3SS9OO. or fax to 
301 622-3330 



131 



Clinton health plan: 
Would it help vets? 



Dear Sgt Shaft: 

Recently I heard Jesse Brown, sec 
retary of veterans affairs, claim vic- 
tory for veterans in the Clinton 
health care reform proposal. Is Mr 
Brown's enthusiasm justified? 

— B.C. (Forgotten Before) 
Fairfax, Va. 
Dear B.C.; 

Scuttlebutt has it that Mr. Brown 
may be wrong, and you may be for- 
gotten again. According to one Hil 
lary commission report, the current 
Clmton proposal would leave the VA 
as a medical system for vets. 

In order to remain independent, 
enough veterans would have to 
choose the VA as their primary 
medical care provider to fund the 
system. That means that 3.5 million 
to 4.S million veterans who are not 
now being treated by the VA would 
have to select the department as 
their primary provider. 

Here's the kicker: If the VA does 
not anract enough vets to support 
the system, Hillary commission con- 
tmgency plans suggest that the VAs 
171 hospiuls and 252 outpatient dm 
ics would be converted to 'public 
health centers of excellence." As 
such, they would be required to pro- 
vide priority care to veterans for 
service-connected disabilities. Ad- 
ditionally, the hospitals and chnics 
would be opened to serve the poor 
and others whose enrollment in 
health maintenance organizations is 
undetermined 

Finally, under the 'centers of ex- 
cellence" concept, all those in need 
of high-cost procedures such as kid- 
ney dialysis, coronary bypass sur- 
gery and organ transplants might be 
forced into these former VA hospi- 
tals as a cost-saving measure. 

Veterans are cautioned to remem- 
ber a maxim of Ronald Reagan's — 
"trust, but venfy" — when dealing 
with the Clinton health care plan 

Dear Sgt. Shaft: 

I'm a humanitarian, but some- 
times an individual just has to stand 
up and say, "Enough is enough " 

Our troops originally were seni to 
Somalia to aid in providing food to a 
starving nation And that nation still 
IS in need of help But at what point 
must we say, "Enough is enough"? 
Why must we be the principal nation 
to suffer heavy losses' Because we 
are the only remaining superpower' 
How long will that last? Our military 
IS spread thin and downsizing at the 
same time 




Among the consequences of this 
course of policy: What will we do 
when Dependents Indemnity Com- 
pensation benefits can no longer be 
processed for surviving families of 
soldiers because the tax load is at the 
limit' Or when young men and 
women will no longer enlist because 
they are afraid that, should they be- 
come uijuied while serving in the 
armed forces, the government will 
not take responsibility? The ques- 
tions go on and on. 

1 know Somalia needs help. Let's 
gel mass reinforcements in there 
and take care of business! If not — 
and this is my preference — let's get 
these troops home. Let's not repeat 
the mistake, as in the Persian Gulf, 
of leaving a tyrant in power, and let's 
en.surc that veterans of such con- 
flicts are taken care of afterward. 

Let's not repeat the nightmare of 
ihc Persian Gulf. Get the troops 
home or do the job right! 

— a Persian Gulf widow. 
New York state 
Dear Persian Gulf widow: 

The sarge has been patiently wait- 
ing to see the young Clintonistas on 
the White House payroll stampede to 
military recruituig offices, answer- 
ing the commander in chiefs call for 
duty in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and 
other hot spots around the world. 

With Veterans Day being cele- 
brated this week, the sarge dedi- 
cates to the Persian Gulf veterans — 
and those who have served and are 
serving in Somalia — this poem, 



I MONDAY, NOVEMBER 8. 1993 



"Soldier," by George L. Skypcck. a 
fellow Vietnam veteran: 

1 was that which others did not 
want to be. 

I went where others feared to go, 

And did what others failed to do. 

1 asked nothing from those who 
gave nothing. 

And reluctantly accepted the 
thought of eternal loneliness 

Should 1 fail. 

I have seen the face of terror; 

Felt the stinging cold of fear. 

And enjoyed the sweet taste of a 
moment's love. 

1 have cned, pained and hoped . . 

But most of all. 

1 have lived times others would 
say were best forgotten. 

At least someday I will be able to 
say that 1 was proud 

Of what I was ... a soldier 

Shaft kudos 

The sarge salutes his fellow Ma- 
rines on Nov 10. our 219th birthday. 
Semper fi 

Once again, on Nov 11, we honor 
the nation's veterans. Let us reflect 
where America would be if these 
men and women had chosen not to 
serve because it was inconvenient. 
And where would our nation be to- 
day if those millions of vets who 
fought and died had decided to serve 
only in "good wars " and conflicts? 
Reflect also on Benjamin Franklin's 
observation, "There never was a 
good war or a bad peace." When vis- 
iting the Vietnam Veterans Memo- 
rial this week, please stop by the 
panel of Marine Cpl. J.C. Arnold, 
who served with the old sarge in 
Vietnam in 1967, and offer a prayer 
for him and his comrades. . 

Send your letters to Sgt. Shaft, do 
John Fates. PO Box 6S900. Washing- 
lull. DC 20U3S-5900. or fax to 
Ji|/622-.«3n 



132 



MONDAY. OCTOBER 25, 1993 I PAGE A9 



Dear Sgt. Shaft. 

I was interested to read the letter 
from Rich Kolb, the editor of VKW 
Magazine, published in a recent col- 
umn 1 am a veteran who served with 
the New Zealand army in Vietnam. 
For the past 20 years I have lived in 
Washington, DC, and for me the 
Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a 
place where I can go to reflect on 
that time, that place and those who 
paid the ultimate price 

While It IS not ■our" memorial, 
veterans of your allies in Vietnam 
share a great feeling of kinship with 
It Therefore, Mr Kolb's suggestion 
of honoring the allies there would 
please all who shared in this strug 
gle with you. 
I - .M A.B.. Washington, DC 
j DearMAB.; 

As I stated in my column, I fully 
support the remembrance of our al 
lies at the Vietnam Veterans Memo- 
rial. This could be done with place 
ment of trees, with plaques, and/or 
allied flags adjoining Old Glory. Vet- 
erans Day. Nov 11, will soon be here, 
and the Sarge has admonished, and 
will continue to admonish, the Wash- 
ington area school systems to ob- 
serve this national holiday 

The sarge challenges the school 
districts to set aside the week pre- 
ceding Veterans Day to have stu- 
dents review the sacrifices our vet- 
erans have made throughout the 
history of the United States 
Dear Sgt, Shaft: 

My husband finally decided, after 
many years, to elect survivor's bene- 
fits for me from his retired military 
pay. He filled out the proper forms 
and returned them during the open 
enrollment penod. which ended on 
March 31, 1993. It gave me peace of 
! mind that he did this because we 
have children who are minors. 

Unfortunately, my husband 
passed away about a month after 
having elected the benefits. The 
Army Retired Pay Operations at 
Fort Harrison informed me that, 
since my husband was not enrolled 
in the program for the required two 
years, that there would be no survi 
vers benefits and that 1 would only 
receive deductions that had been 
taken out so far I checked the enroll- 
ment form my husband had filled 
out. Nowhere did it state that in or 
der to receive benefits there was a 
two-year waiting period 

My husband and I also had called 




Vietnam 
memorial 
special to 
foreign vet 

Fort Harrison and spoken to people 
there to get advice, and v^e also had 
talked by phone with others in the 
Washington area No one told us 
about the waiting period. 

This has been quite a shock. 1 am 
left m a serious financial predic- 
ament without this additional in- 
come. What gives? Can you explain 
this, but most importantly, can you 
help me? 1 have two children, 14 and 
1 7, that 1 must support and educate. 
— H J P,Potomac, Md. 
Dear H J R: 

Unfortunately, the information 
provided by the Army Finance Cen- 
ter IS true. The law creating the 
latest open enrollment period for the 
Military Survivor Benefit Plan re- 
quired that those who enroll surs'ive 
for two years as a precondition to 
benefit eligibility Since all had pre- 
Mously declined enrollment on one 
or more occasions, this provision 
was deemed fair As a result, you will 
receive only a refund of the Survivor 
Benefit Plan premiums paid by your 
husband prior to his death 

However, 1 asked my friends at the 
Non-Commissioned Officers Associ- 
ation to see if you might be eligible 
for any other benefits According to 
their research, your husband died of 
complications from several condi- 
tions, including asthma. It also ap- 
pears the asthma first manifested 
Itself while your husband was on ac- 
tive duty 



tven though your husband never 
sought disability compensation for 
his asthma and was never treated by 
the Veterans Administration for the 
condition, you may still be eligible 
for benefits as the survivor of a dis- 
abled veteran 

If NCOA IS successful in pressing 
your case, you will receive monthly 
payments of S750 for yourself, plus 
SlOO for each child under 18 You and 
the children also will become eligi- 
ble for educational assistance and 
other benefits as the survivors of a 
disabled veteran 

Good luck, and keep me up to date 

Shaft kudo 

This past summer the Depart 
ment of Veterans .Affairs inaugu- 
rated a new nationwide awareness 
campaign amonii its 250.000 employ- 
ees, emphasizing themes of caring 
and courtesy under the banner of 
■VA — Putting Veterans First " 

In announcing plans for system- 
wide adoption of the program, VA 
Secretary Jesse Brown said, "Be 
cause we are undoubtedly the gov- 
ernment's largest single employer of 
direct-public-contact personnel, we 
have a special need to emphasize 
customer service. The tone we es- 
tablish with our veterans in their en- 
counters with VA must communi- 
cate a total sense of caring and 
courtesy" 

The VA annually serves the na- 
tion's veterans and their dependents 
and survivors — an estimated one- 
third of the total US population 

"We want to provide clear guide- 
lines to our employees, not only to 
reinforce a sense of responsibility 
for being pleasant and helpful, but 
also to demonstrate that in the long 
run. It helps us be efficient," Mr 
Brown said He explained that by 
reducing time spent on consumer 
complaints and by taking an early 
interest in individual concerns. VA 
could increase its productivity 

The sarge lauds the Department 
of Veterans .Affairs for this worth- 
while venture, with the understand- 
ing, however, that many veterans will 
fall through the cracks — keeping 
the sarge busily sharpening his 
shaft 

•Send your letters to Sgt Shaft, oo 
John Fales. P.O Box 6.5900, Washing- 
ton. DC. 2003S-5900. or fax to 
301622:1330 



133 




134 



PAGE A2 / SATURDAY. AUGUST 28. 1993 



gl|c Ij^gg^ingfam gTuneg 



Incentives to quit 
military trail those 
offered to civilians 




through a package authorizing 
Department of Defense to otter 
$25,000 to $37,000 to entice 30.000 
civilian employees to begin collect- 
ing their pensions- 
Sen, John Warner. Virginia Re- 
pubhcan, and Rep Dan Glickman, 
Kansas Democrat, are sponsoring a 
proposal to give the Central Intel- 
ligence Agency authority to pay em- 
ployees as much as $25,000 to quit or 
retire this year The president is ex- 
pected to sign the bill 

The House is expected to approve 
a plan by Reps Vic Fazio. California 
Democrat, and James P Moran Jr. 
Virginia Democrat, authorizing buy- 
outs at the Government Printing Of 
fice. General Accounting Office and 
the Library of Congress. 

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of 
military personnel are being forced 
to go home before they had planned 
with no added incentive or. in some 
cases, no retirement benefits at all. 
By my calculations. DOD plans to 
spend a minimum of 5750 million to 
cut civilian manpower ■without re- 
sorting to costly and disruptive lay- 
offs" 

But costly and disruptive layoffs 
are acceptable for the military 

Military people — many of whom 
put their lives on the line every day 
— are being forced to shoulder an 
inordinate share of the sacrifice re- 
quired to cut the budget deficit Con- 
gress' failure to keep the faith with 
the men and women in uniform will 
have a significant negative impact 
on morale and. ultimately, readiness 
— Disheartened Citizen. 
Springfield 
Dear Disheartened: 

Unfortunately history repeats it- 
self in the treatment of our military 
and veterans As the amount of time 
passes after an armed conflict, the 
less emphasis is placed on our coun- 
try's commitment and concern for 
our military and veterans' welfare 
For this reason, veterans must be 
ever-vigilant lo ensure that Con- 
gress honors the covenant with 
these dedicated men and women 



Dear Sgt Shatt: 

.Ji few weeks ago. your column 
commended the wonderful work 
performed by volunteers. Because 
of your interest in volunteers. I 
would like to tell your readers about 
the Robert R. McCormick TVibune 
Foundation and its voluntary sup 
port of the 75th anniversary of 
World War 1 veterans. 

Robert R McCormick was the 
editor and publisher of the Chicago 
TVibune when World War 1 began He 
served as a colonel in the Amencan 
Expeditionary Force in France until 
after the Armistice, then returned to 
assume his duties at the newspaper 
until his death ui 1955 

Throughout his long life, he never 
forgot his experiences in the Great 
War He renamed his own estate Can- 
tigny to commemorate that Amer 
ican victory in 1918 When he died, 
he left the bulk of his estate to a 
group of trustees with instructions 
to establish an organization devoted 
to charitable works, forming what is 
known today as the Robert R 
McCormick TVibune Foundation 

The foundation has planned spe- 
cial events for the 1993 National Con- 
vention of the Veterans of World War 
I and Auxiliary. It has designed a 
TSth anniversary commemorative 
medal, honoring the estimated 
43.048 surviving participants in the 
First World War Presentation of the 
medal will be made on Aug 30 to all 
World War 1 veterans attending the 
convention Medals will be available 
for distribution to living World War 
1 veterans unable to attend Distnbu- 
tion will be made upon application to 
the Department of Veterans Affairs 
Please give this wonderful foun 
dation a kudo for its efforts to honor 
our World War 1 heroes 

- L.S,. 
Springfield 
Dear L S 

The Sarge salutes the Robert R 
McCormick TVibune Foundation and 



Dear Sgl. Shalt: 

Thank you for helping me clear up 
a confusing situation regarding 
CHAMPUS. my health coverage, 
and disengagement 

After several calls to different 
members of Congress, base hospital 
commanders, lawyers and many oth- 
ers regarding my health coverage 
without results. I realized that they 
weren't just "picking " on me and I 
decided to write you If only I could 
express my surprise and pleasure at 
your interest! Maj Marsha Weaver 
called and requested proof regard- 
ing my husbands death She also 
gave me new Gold Star pins, did 
paperwork and issued a new ID 
card Base CHAMPUS told her that 
I had been misinformed about "dis- 
engagement", that It should be cov- 
ered and applied to the total deduct- 
ible I hope they are right and that I 
won I need to find out for a very long 



heard of us. but 1 provided her with 
an information brochure and appli- 
cations Thank you for that opportu- 
nity as well. 

May I also express my apprecia- 
tion for your plain answers? Quite 
refreshing in the age of PC. double- 
speak and Lord only knows what 
else. 

— Gold Star Wife. 
Shrevepon. La. 
Dear Gold Star Wife 

Thank you for your kind words. 
The Sarge appreciates the sacrifices 
you and your family have gone 
through for our country Good luck. 
»Send your letters 10 Sgl Shaft. 
CO John Fates. PO Box 6S900. Wash- 
ington. D C 2003.";-5900. or fax to 
301 622-JJ30 



135 

Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you, Mr. Fales. 

Mr. Davis. By George L. Skypeck, entitled, "Soldier." And if I 
may read it. 

I was that which others did not want to be. I went where others feared to go and 
did what others failed to do. I asked nothing from those who gave nothing and reluc- 
tantly accepted the thought of eternal loneliness should I fail. I have seen the face 
of terror, felt the stinging cold of fear, and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment's 
love. I have cried, pained, and hoped, but most of all, I have lived times others 
would say were best forgotten. At least someday I will be able to say that I was 
proud of what I was, a soldier. 

Mr. Mica. I thank you, Mr. Fales, for your testimony and also 
Mr. Davis for reading that verse. And I would now like to recognize 
Mr. John Davis, who is a veteran and former Federal employee. 
You're recognized for 5 minutes, sir. 

Mr. Davis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have submitted a state- 
ment for the record, and I would just like to read a brief statement, 
if I may. 

Mr. Mica. Without objection, your complete statement will be 
made a part of the record. 

Mr. Davis. Thank you, sir. Chairman Mica, subcommittee mem- 
bers, I am honored to be testifying before your subcommittee this 
morning. Likewise, I applaud you for scheduling this much-needed 
hearing on veterans preference. Let me begin by stating that I am 
a Vietnam veteran. I flew Army helicopters in the central high- 
lands, where I was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 
Bronze Star, and multiple awards of the Air Medal. 

And I mention this only because I am proud of my military serv- 
ice and would not hesitate to serve again, should my country call. 

My problems began with the Army Corps of Engineers, when I 
accepted the opportunity to work for a dynamic Presidential ap- 
pointee who wished to streamline the agency and make it more ef- 
ficient. Needless to say, the Corps hierarchy wasn't exactly enam- 
ored with his unsolicited ideas for change. I received two pro- 
motions within 3 years, much to the chagrin of the Corps. 

When my boss retired, I reverted back to the Corps and began 
a nightmarish odyssey which was to last for 3 years. I bounced 
from job to meaningless job. I was told by the ranking civilian in 
the Corps that I had aligned myself too closely with the previous 
Assistant Secretary and now "had to pay the price." 

I went 3 years without job standards or performance evaluations, 
which is in direct violation of 0PM regulations. In March 1993, my 
agency ran a 50-person reduction in force. Prior to the RIF, man- 
agement went to great lengths to place individuals whose jobs 
would not be abolished, or jobs would be abolished, rather, into po- 
sitions equal to their current grade. 

Not surprisingly, I failed to qualify for any other job at my grade 
level. Consequently, I would become, in effect, the only employee 
in an organization of more than 1,200 to be downgraded as a result 
of the RIF. 

At that point, Mr. Chairman, the conflict was no longer personal; 
now we were treading down the slippery slope of challenging veter- 
ans preference. And it was obvious that the outcome of this strug- 
gle had implications that reached far beyond the Army Corps of 
Engineers or the well-being of one John L. Davis. 



136 

I appealed my downgrade to the Merit Systems Protection Board. 
As my written statement indicates, I lost my appeal, on an unbe- 
lievably minor detail. In addition, the MSPB judged that personal 
animus did exist and that the command was, indeed, out to get me. 

However, the judge ruled that none of that mattered, because I 
would have been downgraded regardless, which is a lot like saying 
it's OK to shoot the guy because he's probably going to die, anyway. 

I was placed in a single person competitive level during the RIF. 
In regard to my assignment or bumping rights, the MSPB judge 
ruled I was not qualified for a position almost identical to the one 
I had held before the RIF. In my opinion, this matter of assignment 
or bumping rights strikes directly at the heart of the 1944 Veterans 
Preference Act. 

As it stands, the entire RIF procedure hinges on the establish- 
ment of the competitive level, and that is not what the original law 
intended, nor the way it was initially applied. 

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, violation of veterans preference 
must be made a punishable offense. At present there is no agency 
even to hear complaints of veterans violations. In my case, I found 
relief only after I filed a reverse discrimination complaint with the 
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

Had laws protecting against this type of discrimination been on 
the books, I doubt that the Army Corps of Engineers would have 
been so aggressive in its actions toward me or in its continuing ac- 
tions against Susan A. Odom and her husband, whose situation I 
discussed in some detail in my written statement. 

Again, sir, I thank you for this opportunity to testify, and I will 
be pleased to answer any questions you may have. 

Mr. Mica. I thank you, and we will defer questions until we've 
completed all three panelists. I'd like to welcome and now recognize 
Mr. James Daub, a veteran. You're recognized for 5 minutes. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Davis follows:] 



137 



TESTIMONY OF JOHN L. DAVIS 

GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE 

April 30, 1996 



Chairman Mica, Subcommittee members. I am honored to be 
testifying before your Subcommittee this morning. Likewise, I 
applaud you for scheduling this much needed hearing on Veterans 
Preference. I also wish to thank Emil Naschinski and Ken 
Scharnberg of the American Legion; Sid Daniels of the Veterans of 
Foreign Wars; and John Fales, also known as Sgt. Shaft of the 
Washington Times. Early on these gentlemen recognized the threat 
to Veterans Preference that Davis vs. Army presented. Along with 
this Subcommittee, their support has proved invaluable in 
focusing attention on this rapid erosion of veterans' rights in 
the Federal workplace. By relating my experience this morning, I 
hope that I can, in some small way, inform you of the process as 
well as help spare others from a similar fate. 

Let me begin by stating that I am a Vietnam Veteran. I flew 
Army helicopters in the Central Highlands region, where I was 
awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and multiple 
awards of the Air Medal. I mention this only because I am proud 
of my military service, and would not hesitate to serve again 
should my country call. My Civil Service career began in 1975 
and continued until July 1995, when I opted for early retirement 

1 



138 



as part of a settlement agreement reached with my agency, the 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I had not wanted to end ray career 
at that point, but in light of the events of the preceding three 
years, I felt I was left with no other alternative. 

I joined the Corps in late 1988 after a four year stint with 
the Army's medical command in Europe. I returned to Washington 
because I was offered the unique opportunity to work for a 
dynamic individual who had amassed a proven record of success in 
the private sector. Appointed by President Reagan and 
reappointed by President Bush, he had accepted the daunting task 
of transforming the Army Corps of Engineers from its traditional 
role of dam builders into a more technically diverse and 
responsive Federal Agency. Needless to say, his programs were 
not exactly embraced with open arms by the Corps hierarchy. 

Soon I advanced to the position of his special assistant. I 
received two promotions within three years, much to the chagrin 
of the Corps, to which my position still officially belonged. 
When my boss retired, I reverted back to the Corps and began my 
nightmarish odyssey which was to last for three years. I bounced 
from job to meaningless job. I was told by the ranking civilian 
in the Corps that '[I] bad aligned myself too closely with [the 
previous Assistant Secretary]' , and now "[had] to pay the price'. 
Part of that price required that I sit at a desk in a storage 
area littered with defunct personal computers. Another aspect 



139 



was that I went three years without job standards or performance 
evaluations, which meant that I could not seek employment outside 
of the Agency. As everyone in Federal Government knows, you are 
only as good as your last performance appraisal. 

In March 1993, Corps headquarters announced that it would 
conduct a fifty-person reduction-in-f orce (rif). Although no one 
would actually "hit the street" as a result, the rif was 
necessary to "align people with positions." Prior to the rif, 
management went to great lengths to place individuals whose jobs 
would be abolished into positions equal to their current grade. 
These measures included creating positions that did not exist 
before the rif began, allowing supervisors to choose which 
employees would be rifed into their offices, and backdating 
personnel documents to circumvent 0PM rif regulations. Not 
surprisingly, I was informed that I did not qualify for any other 
job at the GM-15 level. Consequently, I would become, in effect, 
the only employee in an organization of more than twelve-hundred 
to be downgraded as a result of the rif. 

At that point, Mr. Chairman, the conflict was no longer 
personal. Now we were treading down the slippery slope of 
challenging Veterans Preference, and it was obvious that the 
outcome of this struggle had implications that reached far beyond 
the Army Corps of Engineers or the well-being of John L. Davis. 



140 



I appealed my downgrade to the Merit Systems Protection 
Board (MSPB) , challenging my single-person competitive level and 
failure to award me assignment rights as a result of my 
preference eligible status. In addition, I alleged that the rif 
had been tainted by prohibited personnel practices. At my MSPB 
hearing, my attorney presented unrebutted evidence that the Corps 
had failed to compare my position description with other job 
descriptions prior to the rif. On that basis alone, he argued, 
the rif should be overturned. Amazingly, the administrative 
judge agreed with his reasoning, although he still sided with the 
Agency: 'The [Position Classification Chief] had no recollection 
of hem appellant's competitive level was actually 

determined Agency documents do not indicate what, if amy, 

positions appellant's former position was compared to, in 
determining its competitive level." In essence, Mr. Chairman, 
the MSPB ruled that violation of an employee's substantive right 
was now an allowable offense, and the message to management was 
loud and clear: send us your rifs, and we'll gladly sweep your 
violations under the rug. 

In regard to my assignment, or "bumping" rights, the 
administrative judge ruled I was not qualified for a position 
almost identical to the one I had held before the rif. Though I 
demonstrated that I had performed every critical element of the 
position in question, the judge still ruled that I had not 
performed the exact "day-to-to administrative management of an 



141 



office' at either the GM-14 or GM-15 levels. In my petition for 
review, my attorney wrote, "To accept this position would, in 
fact... be a dilution of assignment rights, and a rewriting of 
OPH's rif regulations, which neither the administrative judge nor 
the board are permitted to make.' 

I make this point, Mr. Chairman, because neither my 
attorney, who literally writes the book each year on significant 
HSPB and Federal Appeals Court decisions, nor roy expert witness 
at the hearing, were aware of any case in the MSPB archives which 
so narrowly interpreted rif assignment rights prior to Davis vs 
Army. Moreover, my own research failed to disclose any such 
cases. When I %rrote to the MSPB seeking clarification, I 
received a terse response which indicated that the three-member 
panel believed existing precedent covered my case, although no 
evidence to bolster that claim was ever presented. 

In my opinion, this matter of assignment, or "bumping" 
rights, strikes directly at the heart of the 1944 Veterans 
Preference Act. When the law was originally written, the 
provision that a preference eligible employee only need be 
"minimally qualified" to displace a nonveteran in round two of a 
rif, served as extra cushion for veterans as well as a warning 
bell for management. During downsizing, it worked in the 
Agency's best interest to keep veterans in properly constructed 
competitive levels. That way, management could maintain some 



142 



measure of control over the rif process. In those days 
"minimally qualified" meant precisely that: when a veteran was 
released from a competitive level, the entire competitive area 
became the veteran's hunting ground. In other words, unless a 
job description contained some highly-specialized requirement, 
the veteran would be allowed to "bump" into the job of a 
nonveteran as the law intended. Such is not the case today, as 
Davis vs. Army clearly demonstrates. Round two rights — or 
assignment rights — need to be restored to the reduction-in-force 
process. As it stands, the entire rif procedure hinges on the 
establishment of the competitive level, and that is not what the 
original law intended, nor the way it was initially applied. 

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Davis vs. Army, 
though, is the Gordian knot logic employed by the administrative 
judge to explain why the Army Corps of Engineers had not 
committed a prohibited personnel practice in its zeal to 'teach 
[me] a lesson." In unrebutted testimony, Susan A. Odom and I 
both testified that Corps high ranking officials had vowed, 
'Because [I] bad ascended fast, I could descend just as fast.' 
Further, he discounted more unrebutted testimony that management 
had promised, '[I] wouldn^t bump anyone during tbe rif, my 
Veterans Preference status notwithstanding.' The judge agreed 
that personal animus did exist, and that the command was indeed 
■out to get [me].' However, the judge ruled that none of that 
mattered because I would have been downgraded regardless. Which 



143 



is sort of like saying that it's okay to shoot the guy because 
he's probably going to die anyway. 

A moment ago I mentioned Susan A. Odom. Susan testified on 
my behalf at the MSPB hearing despite considerable risk to her 
and her husband's career. Susan displayed extraordinary courage 
by stepping forward to take the stand in defense of Veterans 
Preference. She has submitted a statement for the record, and I 
hope the Subcommittee will give it a careful reading. 

Finally, Mr. Chairman, I wish to conclude by offering a few 
observations on ways I believe the present system can be 
improved. First, violation of Veterans Preference must be made a 
punishable offense. As it stands, there is no penalty for 
trampling upon veterans' rights. In fact, two of the biggest 
offenders in my case, including the self -proclaimed "architect of 
the rif," were recently promoted to the Senior Executive Service. 
I also have reservations concerning the MSPB's activist role in 
interpreting Veterans Preference laws. As currently configured, 
the Board is too susceptible to political pressure, and is 
accountable virtually to no one. The Federal Court of Appeals, 
the only body to review Board findings, has such a narrow 
standard of review that it rubber stamps about ninety-seven 
percent of all MSPB decisions. 

Adherence to Veterans Preference laws should be a critical 



144 



element of every manager's position description, the same as EEO. 
Violation of these laws should be dealt with in a prompt and 
decisive manner. At present, there is no Agency to hear 
complaints of Veterans Preference violations. In my case, I 
found relief only after I filed a reverse discrimination 
complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Had 
laws protecting against this type of discrimination been on the 
books, I doubt that the Army Corps of Engineers would have been 
so aggressive in its actions toward me, or in its continuing 
actions against Susan Odom and her husband. 

Again, I thank you for this opportunity to appear before you 
this morning. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may 
have. 



145 

Mr. Daub. Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, thank you for 
giving me the opportunity to testify before this committee on behalf 
ofH.R. 2510. 

As you know, the intent of this resolution is to extend veterans 
preference to individuals who served in connection with Desert 
Shield/Desert Storm. 

Our unit was activated for Desert Shield/Desert Storm in Decem- 
ber 1990. At that time we were split into two groups, one being 
sent to the Desert, and our group was sent to Rhein Mein Air Force 
Base in Germany, in accordance with directives sent from higher 
headquarters. Our group was sent to Germany to perform aircraft 
maintenance and direct support of the theater of operation. The 
maintenance we performed was beyond available capabilities in the 
desert. As a consequence, I feel that our mission in Germany was 
just as critical as those in the Desert. Without our contribution to 
the war effort, the Desert mission capabilities would have been ad- 
versely affected. We were released from active duty in March 1991. 
Up until now we have not received any recognition for our effor*-. 
Due to the circumstances I have mentioned, I feel recognition in 
the form of veterans preference is justified. 

Veterans preference enhances the Federal employees' chances for 
promotion and gives them retention preference in reduction-in-force 
situations. In today's Department of Defense work environment, it 
seems the possibility of reduction-in-force increases daily. 

You can see where our concerns lie as Desert Shield/Desert 
Storm veterans and also as Federal employees without the 5 points 
preference. The current policy allows 5 point veterans preference 
only for those who served in Southwest Asia and disregards every- 
one else who was on active duty at the same time. 

Vietnam era veterans all receive 5 points preference, no matter 
where they served in the world. Why should it be any different for 
Desert Shield/Desert Storm veterans? The military, after all, is a 
total force per the Department of Defense, except, it seems, in this 
matter. 

Thousands of members of the Reserves and National Guard per- 
formed their functions well during the Persian Gulf war, in loca- 
tions throughout the world. You know as well as we do, the war 
would not have been the success it was without these people. Little 
recognition, if any, occurred for those of us that served in other 
areas of the world, as we did, in direct support of the war. 

Under the Department of Defense policy of Total Quality Man- 
agement, equitable recognition should be granted to all who suc- 
cessfully completed their assigned tour of duty during the war. The 
current policy on veterans preference is in direct conflict with this 
policy. 

The current veterans preference policy on Desert Shield/Desert 
Storm is wrong. All the veterans of these operations should be rec- 
ognized for their sacrifices and efforts. Though we served to the ut- 
most when called upon, we have no more Federal employee reten- 
tion rights than the nonveteran who was home with his family 
watching the war on CNN. 

We performed our job proudly, and now we are asking for rec- 
ognition in the form of Federal employee veterans preference 
rights. We are asking your help to correct the current policy by 



146 

moving H.R. 2510 out of committee, and onto the House for consid- 
eration. 

Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to bring what we 
consider to be an important veterans matter. 

Mr. Mica. I thank you for your testimony and also each of our 
panelists. 

I have a couple of questions. I'd like to start with Mr. Fales, if 
I may. You probably have as much contact with the veterans popu- 
lation as anyone, at least in this area. And I'm wondering if you 
could name the top three or four concerns that you have heard with 
respect to veterans preference in the Federal hiring process. Mr. 
Fales, maybe you could give the committee some of the perspective 
that your readership shared with you. 

Mr. Fales. Yes, sir, I can bring up a few. No. 1 would be the Cor- 
poration for National Service, their alternate personnel system, 
which has been approved by Mr. King; and you have people who 
are career Federal employees and you have this newly created al- 
ternate personnel system, which totally ignores veterans pref- 
erence. And even during the RIF procedure you could have an indi- 
vidual who is a disabled veteran, has 15 years in service there, but 
they would have separate RIF registers. 

In addition, they have used the — supposedly the alternate per- 
sonnel system competitive — supposedly, it's also supposed to be 
competitive. Unfortunately, it's really noncompetitive. Many indi- 
viduals have been dumped over there by the White House in 
Schedule C positions. 

In addition, another one of the frustrations of many of the veter- 
ans today is the concern over what's been happening with the 
RIFs, and how they are trying to circumvent veterans preference. 
And when they try and go and get some relief and some help, they 
find that there isn't a process for them. 

The Equal Opportunity process, as bad as it is, that procedure 
is much better than for a veteran trying to get some redress. For 
example, I had an opportunity to talk to Preston Taylor, the Assist- 
ant Secretary for Veterans Employment, and he mentions how he 
has this authority to investigate complaints of veterans. Well, that 
doesn't deal with RIFs. 

In addition, he does not have any subpoena power as he does 
have in the Office of Veterans Re-employment Rights. In that law, 
his authority in the Office of Veterans Re-employment Rights — if 
somebody in the Government is called overseas or called into active 
duty and the Federal agency does not rehire him or give him his 
veterans re-employment rights, Mr. Taylor and his Kinctionaries 
can go in. They have subpoena power and they can handle the case 
immediately. 

Unfortunately, under the average veterans preference, he has no 
authority at all, and he has none in regard to subpoena authority 
at all, but he has none in the area of veterans preference, and none 
in the area of RIFs. 

There is an anger out there as Vietnam vets who have been 
through a lot, and McNamara's book just — God, it had my fax ma- 
chine running, my e-mail, just filled with anger and hurt, and then 
along comes Postmaster General Runyon and he started cir- 
cumventing veterans preference and they saw the hurt again. 



147 

And as you know, we fought hard to — we had to fight a Httle 
harder coming back from Vietnam and now in the pinnacle of our 
careers they are now downsizing, and it's almost like "it's deja vu 
all over again," as Yogi Berra would say. 

We see the same thing happen to our sons and daughters who 
are now coming out of the military and being forced, because of 
downsizing, to end careers and enter new ones. And then getting 
the rancor of those who did not serve. 

But that's just a few. If you would like, I could go home and get 
all these letters and bring them back and put it for the record. My 
wife would love to get rid of all these piles of letters. 

Mr. Mica. I don't know if we want to create a volume that large, 
but you have outlined some of the problems. 

One of the concerns we just heard from Mr. Davis is the inad- 
equate system of redress when someone has a complaint. It ap- 
pears that there is no place to turn to. What would you put in place 
to correct this situation? An appeals system or what enforcement 
of veterans preference would you prefer or recommend? 

Mr. Fales. Well, there has to be some kind of counseling stage, 
first, sir, as there is with the EEO process. In that area, you're 
talking to a nonbiased individual who is gathering facts and being 
able to find out actually if there has been some circumvention of 
veterans preference, or if a veteran has been, and I would use the 
term "discriminated against," because his or her rights have been 
violated. 

If that doesn't settle or come to some kind of conclusion, then I 
would have an investigation with subpoena power, be able for them 
to go in, to look at personnel files, to get all the fact finding. Unfor- 
tunately, if a veteran does this, he has to do it himself or hire an 
attorney to enter into this. And you know how expensive that can 
be. 

And then there has to be adjudication, a fair and equitable adju- 
dication, and quick — remember we always talk about the criminals 
getting due process and quick due process, but God, it's important 
that this process be handled as quickly as possible. 

Another thing, too, is that, you'll notice I pointed out in my writ- 
ten testimony, and it deals with John Davis. The retaliation that 
individuals get, Susan Odom and her husband and others, what it 
does is their careers are hurt because of the same individuals, es- 
pecially in this Army Corps of Engineers. So what will happen if 
these managers are not penalized, then they're going to continue 
to go about their ov^m little way of circumventing veterans pref- 
erence. Also, they'll continue to retaliate against witnesses and who 
would be a witness, unless we have some kind of mechanism in 
place to sanction those individuals. 

And, you know, it's about time. You know, we've had TQM, and 
we have had so many management programs, I think it's about 
time we had leaders in our Federal agencies again. 

Mr. Mica. I thank you for your comments and want to ask Mr. 
Davis a similar question. I know you're disappointed in the out- 
come of your particular case, but part of the purpose of this hear- 
ing is to look beyond individual cases, see what went wrong with 
this system, and how it can be corrected. 



148 

And if we set up a system of grievance or redress wrongs, how 
would you approach this organizationally and as far as opportunity 
for veterans to appeal? 

Mr. Davis. First, if I may clarify something just a little. I said 
I found relief or redress through the EEO process, if I may explain 
that real quickly. It was obvious there was no mechanism through 
the Merit Systems Protection Board at all. And one of the reasons 
for that is that veterans preference or veterans rights or whatever 
are lumped into other areas. 

For instance, under reduction-in-force, if you look into the ar- 
chives of the MSPB, the only time you ever see veterans preference 
violations come up is when it's eligibility. In my case, it's assign- 
ment rights, it's competitive levels. It's diluted in that way. In 
terms of prohibited personnel practices, that's exactly what it is, 
unless you fall under one of the lists of prohibited personnel prac- 
tices, then violation of someone's veterans rights are nonexistent. 

But I was saying about the EEO, I got into that channel, as I 
said, because I had exhausted the other means and, one thing, I 
was in debt, it cost me $30,000 to combat this. And probably every- 
one is not as pigheaded as I am, but it's very expensive to do, as 
Sergeant Shaft pointed out. 

So I had a considerable investment, not only in time, but also 
what I considered to be principle. And one of the things that I did 
find out is that through the EEO channels, you can go to a civil 
trial. And you mav recall that the Corps of Engineers last May, 
May 1994, lost a $3.2 million civil trial to one of their employees 
who had charged and successfully charged them with sexual dis- 
crimination. 

And I found out these figures may not be totally accurate now, 
but a year ago this time, the Army had taken 24 cases before a 
civil court, and each one of those cases the Army had lost, so the 
score is 24 to nothing in favor of the plaintiffs. And one of the rea- 
sons is because the systems that are in place now, whether it's 
EEO at the preliminary process, whether it's the Merit Systems 
Protection Board, in my opinion, the system is established where 
you basically condone each other's behavior. 

And I'm sure there are reasons for that that I don't fully under- 
stand, but when these cases are getting before juries, they're get- 
ting clobbered. And as I said, the only way I could redress mine 
was to go through EEO, or at least head in that direction. 

I would like to see very much, as John pointed out, that if some- 
one's veterans preference rights are violated or someone stands up 
for veterans preference rights, as Susan Odom did, that imme- 
diately it becomes, it's handled as a prohibited personnel practice 
or you can set into motion at that time a mechanism which will 
allow you to address this problem. 

Also, too, one thing I would like to add is that these things are 
very, very costly to management also when these disputes — you 
end up, pockets within the organization or suborganizations very 
often good people go down with these. Not only the person who has 
the allegation or the person who feels like they've been wronged, 
but supervisors. 

And a lot of times, the people who stir up the problem, if you 
will, or management who initially feels for whatever reasons they 



149 

should initiate this action, they sort of disappear, and the people 
on the front lines — and I know at the Corps right now, there are 
several offices that literally have been destroyed because of this, 
and the individuals within those offices, from having to fight these 
fights. And one reason is because of the protracted nature of them, 
they go on and on and on and on. 

Possibly, if the Merit Systems Protection Board is not the vehicle 
for this, then possibly, someone had mentioned at one time a Fed- 
eral court, perhaps, a version of the Federal court. Whether that's 
a good idea or not, I don't know, but at present, sir, there is just 
no way for a veteran to seek any sort of redress unless you lump 
it into something else. 

Mr. Mica. It sounds like your service in Vietnam was a rather 
mild experience compared to the battle you've been through. One 
of the final things, and I don't want to abuse the time here, but 
something that's disturbing in your case is and that you mentioned, 
again, retaliation. And one individual in particular that was men- 
tioned, I guess, Susan Odom and her husband have been retaliated 
against because of her support for your position. 

Would you describe briefly for the subcommittee her involvement 
and how the agency retaliated? Also, when you finish, I'm going to 
enter a statement I have from her as part of the record that she 
sent to me. So if you would relate to the subcommittee what's 
taken place here, I would appreciate it. 

Mr. Davis. Susan stepped forward before my hearing in January 
1994. She came forward and said she had heard information, first 
hand information, from people within the management of the Corps 
of Engineers who said essentially that I wasn't going to bump any- 
body regardless if I was a veteran or not, that the organization was 
going to "pay me back" because of working for a political person 
who was appointed by President Reagan and reappointed by Presi- 
dent Bush. 

And she, as a matter of principle, just could not let that lie. And 
so she stepped forward and testified at my MSPB hearing with 
that information, and I also had some corroboration of my own. 
One of the people who had said these things before he retired came 
to me and confirmed them. When this happened, Susan had won — 
had just received one of the highest awards that you can get in the 
Government, the Meritory Civilian Service Medal, for a program 
that she had originated, the program that she had implemented, 
and in fact had been adapted Corps-wide. That was taken away 
from her. 

Susan also had gone to college with the agreement with the 
agency that they would pay her tuition when she graduated or she 
completed her credits; they — this was in 1994, following all this, 
they still have not paid. She's had collection agencies hounding her. 
The agency will not rectify that. 

They have pitted her against her husband, who is also a Corps 
of Engineer employee, because of particular programs that Susan 
was in charge of that her husband — they established him as her 
counterpoint. They have called her very, very insulting names. 
They have made comments which have been corroborated such as 
"we don't need people like her in the organization." 



150 

Basically, they have demeaned her. They have stuck her in a cor- 
ner the same as they did with me. And it's all because she came 
forward to testify. Susan has also written to the Office of Special 
Counsel, and they have initiated an investigation. And this was 
some time ago, and I don't believe she's heard back from them. 

She is also trying to seek redress through the EEO channels at 
this time. But her career is over. A very, very bright, promising 
woman who had a great career is over. As I mentioned in my com- 
ment, I hadn't wanted to retire when I did. I had no choice. I cer- 
tainly had no future. When you don't have performance appraisals, 
you can't go from one agency to another. Everybody wants to see 
your performance appraisals, so I don't know where Susan is head- 
ed with hers, but her career is over there. 

And, again, it's because there is no mechanism in place to protect 
people who will come forward. But Susan did it on the basis of 
principle, I can tell you that. 

Mr. Mica. I appreciate your comments. Susan Odom has written 
me, and I'm going to ask that, without objection, her comments and 
detailing of this experience also be made a part of the record. 

[The prepared statement of Ms. Odom follows:] 



151 



The Honorable John L. Mica 

Chairman, Subcommittee on Civil Service 



Dear Mr. Chairman: 



Susan A. Odom 
9124GalbrethCt. 
Springfield. VA 22153-1 108 
703-440-9139 



30 April 1996 



I am writing to express my deep appreciation to you and your fellow 
committee members for your advocacy of Veterans Preference and to offer 
in testimony my experiences in defending Veterans Preference in the U.S. 
Army Corps of Engineers. 

In January of 1994 I testified for John L. Davis before the Merit 
Systems Protection Board. In my un-rebutted testimony I told the 
administrative judge of hearing management officials say: 

1) that John L Davis had ascended fast and he could descend 
Just as fast, 

2) that his Veterans Preference was irrelevant because he was 
going to be "punished" for worldng for a politically appointed 
assistant secretary of the army, 

3) that I should not concern myself with his problems because 
they were "going to take care of him," and 

4) that I would be "smart" to forget my testimony before I gave 
It 

Despite John Davis' courageous fight the Merit Systems Protection Board 

ruled against him and upheld the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to 

Susan A Odom - Veteran's Preference - pg 1 



152 



RIF John in favor of a minority woman. 

When I testified for Mr. Davis, I was four months pregnant with a child 

for whom my husband and I had t>een praying for fifteen years. By 1 March I 

was working full-time at home because the stress in my office was 

endangering my pregnancy. Since then the following things have happened 

to my career and my husband's (also a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 

employee): 

The Chief of Staff of the Corps of Engineers told senior management 
officials that: "We don't need people like her in the Corps of 
Engineers," 

The Corps denied me career-enhancing programs that they had 
approved me for prior to my testimony, 
My immediate supervisor told my co-workers that I was a 'Bitch.' 
The program I created, and for which I won the Meritorious 
Service Medal, was taken away from me and given to a higher 
graded person. 

When the higher-graded individual retired, they transferred my 
program to another inexperienced person without ever letting me 
compete for the job, 

Harassing "hang up" calls daily from my supervisor's office 
during my high-risk pregnancy while I worked at home. 
They ordered that I move from my private office to an open bay area 
while 6-months pregnant. 

My husband has been denied promotion and ovenvorked, while my 
work has been taken away leaving me with only minimal, lower- 
graded work and a great deal of idle time, 
Our baby was bom with a facial deformity that doctors believe may 
have been caused by the stress placed upon me during the 
pregnancy. 

My husband was denied paternity leave after the birth of our baby 
even though I had not recovered from surgery and needed his help. 
The Corps has denied us life insurance through the Federal 
Employees Group Life Insurance Program, 
My husband has been sent on travel with no advance notice and 
forced to use our personal funds for that travel, 
Both of us have had travel reimbursements withheld for months 

Suun A. Odom - V»t»nn'» PnfmwK* • pg 2 



153 



causing us to be hounded by creditors, 

• The Corps has refused to pay the tuition bills, which they had 
committed to paying before my testimony, thus denying me my 
degree, 

• We have been denied training, 

• I have had no Individual Development Plans for three years, 

• Friends have testified against me, at the behest of my agency, on fear 
of persecution, 

• My husband has repeatedly been assigned as my counterpoint on 
every important program I handle thus ensuring that we are always 
professional 'at odds' in an attempt to undermine our personal 
relationship, 

• The Corps Chief of Public Affairs wrote a letter to the 
Washington Times implying that I had lied to that newspaper, 

• A Corps lawyer acted as the personal attorney of an individual 
drawing up a complaint for her signature against me, 

• My supervisors have made it impossible for me to maintain my 
exceptional ratings by withdrawing support to my programs, 

• Our health has been negatively affected and we have lost our private 
life insurance/investment plan, 

• The deputy Chief of Staff of the Corps of Engineers advised my 
supervisors to take summary action against me, including writing 
to the Washington Times, without ever questioning me. 

Standing against a tide of wrongness is expensive to the soul as well 

as the pocket and it can be devastating to a family. Perhaps the worst part 

of what the Corps has done to us is the knowledge that my husband and I 

are not alone. The roll call of other Corps veterans who have seen their 

hghts abused and their careers ended simply for telling the truth include: 

John Davis, Jeff Wilbanks and Brenda Bishop from Little Rock, Page and 

Sharon Johnson of Washington, DC. and many more. The outcry from 

abused veterans has gone up from all across the U.S. Army Corps of 

Engineers: the Lower Mississippi Valley Division, the Southwestern Division 

and the North Central Division to name a few. 

Susan A. Odom - Veteran's Preference - pg 3 



154 



There was a time when simply passing a law was enough to ensure 
proper treatment of our veterans. In the present bureauaacy under which I 
labor, however, the penalties for noncompliance must outweigh the 
expediencies of ignoring the law or it will not be obeyed. The new veterans, 
the women and minorities who make up our volunteer forces, deserve and 
must have the protection of Veterans Preference. Cases must not be 
allowed to 'slip through the cracksT setting dangerous precedents like the 
John L. Davis case. Appeal or grievance process must be streamlined and 
speeded up to allow cases to be decided before individuals, families and 
agencies are destroyed. In short, I stand behind any proposal that includes 
provisions for: 

• Federal Managers, officials and employees to be fired, demoted or otherwise 
disciplined for ignoring or circumventing Veterans Preference. 

• Allowing an agency 's funds to he cut off until they comply with veteran 's 
preference and the responsible official(s) who had not complied are 
appropriately disciplined 

• Responsible qfficials(s) losing the privilege of "sovereign immunity " and 
allowing them to be sued as individuals for damages when they flout 
Veterans Preference laws. 

Furthermore, an outside, unbiased agency should handle punitive 
measures. Anything handled within the agency, against its own 
management, is doomed to bias and unfair use. The managers who were 
responsible for my career, my husband's career and Mr. Davis' career were 
promoted by my organization into the Senior Executive Service and 

Susan A Odom ■ Vatwn't Pnfw9nc0 - pg 4 



155 



confirmed by 0PM. The deliberate denial of an employee's Veterans 

Preference rights should t>e a prohibited personnel practice and dealt with 

accordingly; it should not result in being raised to the pinnacle of civil 

service. 

As I have said in previous testimony, i also endorse Mr. James E. 

Colvard's advice: 

The law should be changed to allow one level of appeal above the person 
against whom the complaint is lodged with rights to civil court being the next 
course of action .' 

This is the best of all worlds; the system would be streamlined 
allowing both the employee and the manager access to impartial judgement 
via the courts. Though it does engender an immediate investment by the 
employee, if that expense is reimbursable upon a successful conclusion, I 
believe it is fair. 

Along with these safeguards I urge the Congress to consider placing 
an agency's adherence to the Veterans Preference laws as a mandatory, 
yearly evaluation on each agency's Management Control Plan. Thus, each 
agency would be forced to report their progress to the Congress in their 
Annual Assurance Statement. 

I have been lucky enough in my travails to be have met some 
wonderful, dedicated people and I would like to take this opportunity to thank 
some of them: the estimable and redoubtable Mr. John Pales (a.k.a. Sgt 
Shaft) of the Washington Times, and Mr. Danny Devine (Congressional 

Susan A. Odom - Veteran's Preference - pg 5 



156 

Committee on Veterans Affairs) for his understanding of the Issues 
confronting veterans and his willingness to take those issues on. I also want 
to express my admiration and appreciation to my attorney, Ms. Elizabeth 
Newman of Kalijarvi, Chuzi and Newman for her wisdom and counsel. 

There isn't enough time or money in the world to recompense my 
family and me for what we have endured - for the dreams, the health, the 
friends, the idealism we have lost. Nevertheless, if at the end of this 
struggle, we can look back and see that a stronger Veterans Preference law 
was enacted it will all have been worth it. In closing let me just say that 
without the selfless courage and personal code of honor of a John Davis, or 
the sacrifice and endurance of a Jeff Wilbanks and Brenda Bishop, the 
abuse of veterans rights inflicted by the U.S. Army would never have come 
to light. I hope God grants them the strength to carry on. Thank you for 
your time. 

Susan A. Odom 



Sustn A. Odom - Vtlann't Pnf»nnc9 - pg 6 



157 

Mr. Mica. It's a rather disturbing tale. I'm not certain as to the 
accuracy of everything that's been submitted here, but I'm quite 
shocked by some of what I read and the conduct of the Corps, even 
the conduct of the Merit Systems Protection Board and some of the 
others involved in this situation and certainly is something that 
this subcommittee should look further at, and I'll thank you for 
your testimony. 

I've taken more than my time, and I want to yield now to the 
ranking member, Mr. Moran, for questions. 

Mr. MORAN. Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. As you 
put Ms. Odom's testimony properly into the record, I think we 
should put Jim King's in the record as well. Maybe you've already 
done that. 

Mr. Mica. No, we haven't. But without objection, so ordered. And 
we did receive testimony from Mr. King, the head of 0PM, and it 
will be made a part of this record. Thank you. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. King follows:] 



158 



STATEMENT FOR THE RECORD OF 

HONORABLE JAMES B. KING 
DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT 

before the 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

at an oversight hearing on 

VETERANS' PREFERENCE IN 
FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT 

APRIL 30, 1996 

MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE: 

AT THIS HEARING ON THE IMPORTANT SUBJECT OF VETERANS' PREFERENCE 
IN FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT, I'M PROUD TO REPORT THAT PRESIDENT CLINTON 
HAS KEPT HIS PROMISE TO PROTECT THE PRINCIPLE OF VETERANS' 
PREFERENCE. FURTHER, WE WISH TO ASSURE YOU THAT AS WE MOVE TO 
MORE FLEXIBLE HIRING SYSTEMS FOR THE GOVERNMENT, THE PREFERENCE 
THAT IS NOW EXTENDED TO VETERANS WILL NOT BE DIMINISHED ONE BIT. 
VETERANS' PREFERENCE IS AN EARNED RIGHT AND WILL NOT BE COMPRO- 
MISED. 

EVEN THOUGH MORE THAN 160,000 FEDERAL JOBS HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED 
DURING THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION, THE PERCENTAGE OF JOBS GOING 
TO AMERICA'S VETERANS HAS ACTUALLY INCREASED. IN THE 1980s WE 
HEARD A LOT OF TALK ABOUT REDUCING THE SIZE OF THE GOVERNMENT, 
BUT IN FACT IT GOT BIGGER. PRESIDENT CLINTON, IN CONTRAST, 
HASN'T JUST TALKED ABOUT A SMALLER FEDERAT, GOVERNMENT, HE'S GIVEN 



159 



-2- 

US ONE, WHILE STILL PROTECTING THOSE WHO HAVE PROTECTED OUR 
NATION'S FREEDOM. I'M PROUD THAT WE CAN REAFFIRM THE SOLEMN BOND 
BETWEEN OUR VETERANS AND THE GRATEFUL NATION THEY SERVED — AND 
CONTINUE TO SERVE. 

COMPARED TO OTHER SECTORS OF THE ECONOMY, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT 
EMPLOYS TWICE AS MANY VETERANS, THREE TIMES AS MANY VIETNAM-ERA 
VETERANS, FIVE TIMES AS MANY DISABLED VETERANS, AND SEVEN TIMES 
AS MANY OF VETERANS WHO HAVE SUFFERED MORE THAN 30 PERCENT 
DISABILITY. 

MR. CHAIRMAN, FIRST LET ME BRIEFLY PROVIDE A PICTURE OF THE 
GOVERNMENT'S OVERALL SUCCESS IN EMPLOYING VETERANS, AND IN DOING 
SO DURING A TIME WHEN SUBSTANTIAL DOWNSIZING OF THE GOVERNMENT 
HAS BEEN NECESSARY. FOR EXAMPLE, VETERANS AS A PERCENTAGE OF 
FULL-TIME PERMANENT NEW HIRES ROSE FROM 17 PERCENT IN FISCAL YEAR 
1991 TO 33 PERCENT IN FISCAL YEAR 1994. FURTHER, VETERANS AS A 
PERCENTAGE OF THE TOTAL WORKFORCE HAVE HELD STEADY AT ABOUT 28 
PERCENT FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS, AND ARE WELL-REPRESENTED IN 
AGENCIES THROUGHOUT THE GOVERNMENT. AT THE SAME TIME, IT IS TRUE 
THAT MANY VETERANS HAVE LEFT THE GOVERNMENT IN RECENT YEARS. 
HOWEVER, THIS IS FUNDAMENTALLY DUE TO THE AGING OF THE POPULATION 
ELIGIBLE FOR VETERANS' PREFERENCE, AND TO THE FACT THAT DOWNSIZ- 
ING HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED PRIMARILY — AND RIGHTLY — BY VOLUNTARY 
SEPARATIONS THROUGH RETIREMENT AND BUYOUT PROGRAMS WHICH ARE USED 



160 



-3- 
MAINLY BY OLDER WORKERS. IN DEFENSE AGENCIES, WHICH EMPLOY A 
LARGER PROPORTION OF VETERANS THAN DO OTHER AGENCIES, VETERANS 
HAVE BEEN LESS AFFECTED BY REDUCTIONS IN FORCE THAN OTHER EMPLOY- 
EES. IN FISCAL YEARS 1993 AND 1994, VETERANS CONSTITUTED 37 
PERCENT OF THE WORKFORCE IN AGENCIES UNDERGOING SEVERE DOWNSIZ- 
ING, BUT ACCOUNTED FOR ONLY 26 PERCENT OF THOSE SEPARATED IN RIF 
ACTIONS . 

BY LAW, VETERANS ARE ENTITLED TO PREFERENCE OVER OTHER EMPLOYEES 
FOR RETENTION IN RIF ACTIONS. THE AGENCY HAS THE RESPONSIBILITY 
OF DETERMINING APPROPRIATE COMPETITIVE LEVELS FOR THE RIF ACTION. 
IT IS TRUE THAT A COMPETITIVE LEVEL COULD CONSIST OF A SINGLE 
EMPLOYEE, WHEN APPROPRIATE, BUT IN ALL CASES 0PM REGULATIONS 
REQUIRE AGENCIES TO ESTABLISH COMPETITIVE LEVELS SOLELY ON THE 
BASIS OF THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE POSITIONS IN 
QUESTION. FURTHER, QUALIFIED VETERANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO "BUMP" 
NON-VETERANS ELSEWHERE IN THE ORGANIZATION IN WHICH THE RIF IS 
TAKING PLACE. THESE VETERANS' PREFERENCE RIGHTS PROVIDE VERY 
STRONG PROTECTIONS IN RIF ACTIONS. 

OPM TAKES ITS ENFORCEMENT OF VETERANS' PREFERENCE VERY SERIOUSLY. 
AS PART OF OUR NATIONWIDE AGENCY REVIEW PROCESS, WE ASSESS THE 
AGENCIES' APPLICATION OF THE VETERANS' PREFERENCE LAW IN THE 
FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT PROCESS. THIS INCLUDES A PROGRAMMATIC REVIEW 
OF THE AGENCY'S USE OF SPECIAL VETERAN EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS AND 
APPOINTMENT AUTHORITIES. WE ALSO REVIEW AGENCY RECORDS TO ASSURE 
THAT VETERANS' PREFERENCE IS BEING APPLIED APPROPRIATELY IN 



161 



-4- 

INDIVIDUAL STAFFING ACTIONS. BASED ON OUR FINDINGS DURING AGENCY 
REVIEWS OR FROM OTHER SOURCES OF INFORMATION, WE REQUIRE AGENCIES 
TO MAKE PROGRAMMATIC CORRECTIONS TO IMPROVE THEIR EFFECTIVENESS 
IN THE USE OF VETERAN EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS. IF WE FIND VIOLATIONS 
IN THE APPLICATION OF VETERANS' PREFERENCE IN INDIVIDUAL CASES, 
WE DIRECT THE AGENCY TO TAKE APPROPRIATE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS. 
THESE ACTIONS IN INDIVIDUAL CASES ARE MEANT TO REDRESS THE 
RESULTS OF ANY FAILURE BY AN AGENCY TO PROVIDE A VETERAN HIS OR 
HER ENTITLEMENTS UNDER THE LAW. SUCH CORRECTIVE ACTION MAY EVEN 
INCLUDE THE REMOVAL OF ANOTHER PERSON FROM A POSITION TO WHICH HE 
OR SHE WAS APPOINTED, AND THE PLACEMENT OF THE VETERAN INTO THE 
POSITION TO WHICH HE OR SHE IS ENTITLED. 

ANOTHER OF OPM'S OVERSIGHT RESPONSIBILITIES IS THE REVIEW OF THE 
MEDICAL INFORMATION CONCERNING DISABLED VETERANS WHO ARE REJECTED 
FOR EMPLOYMENT BY THE AGENCY TO WHICH THEY HAVE APPLIED. ON 
AVERAGE, WE OVERTURN 40% OF THESE MEDICAL PASSOVER CASES REFERRED 
TO US BY AGENCIES, THEREBY ALLOWING THE VETERAN TO BE HIRED. 

MR. CHAIRMAN, AS YOU KNOW, FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS THE DEPARTMENT OF 
AGRICULTURE HAS OPERATED A DEMONSTRATION PROJECT THAT HAS TESTED 
AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE "RULE OF THREE" IN HIRING. UNDER THE 
PROJECT, APPLICANTS ARE PLACED IN ONE OF TWO CATEGORIES, "QUALI- 
FIED" AND "ELIGIBLE," BASED ON THEIR QUALIFICATIONS. QUALIFIED 
DISABLED VETERANS ARE AUTOMATICALLY PLACED IN THE QUALITY GROUP. 



162 



-5- 

ALL CANDIDATES IN THE QUALITY GROUP ARE AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION, 
WITH ABSOLUTE PREFERENCE GIVEN TO VETERANS. IF THERE ARE NO 
VETERANS IN THE QUALITY GROUP, THEN ANOTHER CANDIDATE FROM 
THAT GROUP MAY BE SELECTED. THE CATEGORY RATING SYSTEM HAS BEEN 
A CLEAR SUCCESS — BOTH FOR AGENCIES AND FOR VETERANS. THE MANAG- 
ERS WHO HAVE TRIED THIS SYSTEM TELL US IT GIVES THEM MORE FLEXI- 
BILITY AND BETTER SELECTIONS, AND THE VETERANS SERVICE ORGANIZA- 
TIONS HAVE SUPPORTED IT BECAUSE MORE VETERANS HAVE BEEN HIRED 
UNDER IT. OPM BELIEVES THAT IT WOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO EXTEND 
THIS SUCCESSFUL SYSTEM — WHICH FULLY PROTECTS VETERANS' PREFERENCE 
WITHIN A MORE EFFECTIVE HIRING SYSTEM — TO OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES. 
FURTHER, IN RECENT YEARS OPM HAS DELEGATED EXAMINING AUTHORITY TO 
MANY FEDERAL AGENCIES, WITH NO ADVERSE EFFECT ON VETERANS' 
PREFERENCE. BASED ON OUR EXPERIENCE, WE BELIEVE THAT A MORE 
DECENTRALIZED HIRING SYSTEM CAN WORK BETTER WHILE FULLY MAINTAIN- 
ING THE BENEFIT OF VETERANS' PREFERENCE. 

MR. CHAIRMAN, THE ADMINISTRATION IS PROUD OF ITS CONTINUING 
SUCCESS IN PROTECTING THE PRINCIPLE OF VETERANS' PREFERENCE IN 
FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT. ON THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SIGNING OF 
THE VETERANS' PREFERENCE ACT, PRESIDENT CLINTON SAID, "OUR NATION 
OWES A GREAT DEAL TO THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE WORN OUR 
COUNTRY'S UNIFORM. THE PROSPERITY AND FREEDOM WE ENJOY ARE THE 
PRICELESS GIFTS OF THEIR SERVICE AND COMMITMENT." 



163 



-6- 

VETERANS' PREFERENCE IS A COMMITMENT THAT CANNOT AND WILL NOT BE 
CHANGED. AS WE WORK WITH YOU TO IMPROVE THE FEDERAL PERSONNEL 
SYSTEM, YOU MAY BE ASSURED THAT PRESERVATION AND PROTECTION OF 
VETERANS' PREFERENCE WILL CONTINUE TO BE A TOP PRIORITY. 



164 

Mr. MORAN. And I appreciate that, Mr. Chairman, we don't have 
a representative of the administration testifying today, but they 
are really the ones on trial, if you will, and I think perhaps I ought 
to summarize some of the points that he makes in his statement. 

Mr. Mica. Mr. Moran, this is just a hearing. The trial hasn't 
started. 

Mr. Moran. No. But I can see what's coming, Mr. Chairman. So 
I think that as the ranking Democrat here, I really ought to sum- 
marize some of the points that the administration makes. 

Mr. King, as the person primarily responsible for implementing 
veterans preference in the Federal Government, begins by saying 
that the veterans preference that is now extended throughout the 
Federal workforce will not be diminished one bit even though more 
than 160,000 Federal jobs have been eliminated during the Clinton 
administration. The percentage of jobs going to America's veterans 
has actually increased. They are proud that they can reaffirm the 
solemn bond between veterans and the grateful Nation they serve 
and continue to serve. 

Compared to other sectors of the economy, the Federal Govern- 
ment employs twice as many veterans, three times as many Viet- 
nam-era veterans, five times as many disabled veterans, and seven 
times as many veterans who have suffered more than 30 percent 
disability, as compared to every other sector within the economy. 

Veterans as a percentage of permanent new hires rose from 17 
percent in fiscal year 1991 to 33 percent in fiscal year 1994. So in 
other words, from the Bush administration to the Clinton adminis- 
tration, if a comparison is being made, there is a chart, and I'm 
going to submit this chart for the record as well, that shows that 
the percentage of veterans of new-hires actually goes up signifi- 
cantly. 

In defense agencies, which employ a larger proportion, obviously, 
of veterans than other agencies, veterans have been substantially 
less affected by reductions-in-force than other employees. I'm just 
summarizing here. These statements are backed up by a lot of sta- 
tistics, but I'm just going to summarize the points. 

Qualified veterans have the right to bump nonveterans within 
any organization that has RIFs taking place. And that is fully pro- 
tected, that bumping right, are veterans over nonveterans. Clearly 
there have been exceptions apparently to that case, but I think as 
a committee we need to look at what is taking place across the 
Government. 

As part of the nationwide agency review process, that 0PM has 
undertaken, they assess the agency's application of veterans pref- 
erence law in the Federal employment process. And if they find vio- 
lations in the application of veterans preference in individual cases, 
they say that they will direct the agency to take appropriate action. 
And corrective action may even include the removal of another per- 
son from a position to which he or she was appointed and the 
placement of the veteran into the position to which he or she in en- 
titled. 

Another of OPM's oversight responsibilities is the review of the 
medical information concerning disabled veterans who are rejected 
for employment by the agency to which they have applied. On aver- 
age, 0PM overturns 40 percent of these medical pass-over cases re- 



165 

ferred to 0PM by the agencies, thereby allowing the veteran to be 
hired. 

Now, the Department of Agriculture has a demonstration project 
going on that haj tested an alternative to the rule of three in hir- 
ing. Qualified veterans are automatically placed in the quality 
group. There's two categories, of course, qualified and eligible, 
based on qualifications. 

This quality group gives absolute preference to veterans, and it 
is working very well. 0PM looks forward to providing more decen- 
tralization of hiring practices throughout the agencies, and they 
think that a decentralized hiring system is going to achieve a lot 
of other benefits, but they are confident that it will not reduce the 
benefit of veterans preference. 

In concluding, he says the administration's proud of its continu- 
ing success in protecting the principle of veterans preference and 
emplo3rment, and wants to work with the committee to improve the 
Federal personnel system, but assuring the preservation and pro- 
tection of veterans preference will continue to be a top priority. 

That's the summary of an extensive statement, and I'm glad that 
we'll be putting that into the record. 

Now, do I have any more time to ask questions? 

Mr. Mica. Certainly. I took double my time, and you're equal to 
the same. 

Mr. MORAN. Just cut me off. 

Mr. Mica. I will. 

Mr. MORAN. Thank you. Why don't I address the first question 
to Sergeant Shaft? It's nice to see you again, Mr. Fales. 

In your testimony, you referred to over a dozen letters that 
you've received, but only two of them really dealt specifically with 
veterans preference. The first didn't complain about the adminis- 
tration so much, but rather the fact that the administration could 
not give him the preference he wanted, because the law covering 
the Persian Gulf war is too restrictive. I guess Congressman Fox 
had to leave, but I think that legislation applies to that situation. 

The second was from Susan Odom and dealt with the issue pre- 
sented by Mr. Davis. The 0PM Director's response pretty well ad- 
dresses the implication that you made in your testimony, but in 
terms of the specific examples, I don't know that you have concrete 
examples in the testimony where veterans preference was abused 
or denied. 

Mr. Fales. Congressman Moran, if you would notice to the at- 
tachments, I have a letter from Jim King in there to the column, 
you know, discussing certain areas of veterans preference, so if you 
would like — like I said, my wife would love to get rid of these let- 
ters. 

Mr. Moran. No. No. No. It's OK. 

Mr. Fales. I will be happy to bring you a carload of veterans' 
complaints. In fact, I'll bring them and put them in alternate for- 
mat for you, sir. 

Mr. Moran. No, that's OK. Unless George wants to spend the 
next few months reading through them. You did focus a lot of your 
testimony on the Postal Service, but of course, the Postal Service 
is an independent agency. In fact, Marvin Runyon, who is a good 
guy, I like him, but he is a Bush appointee. 



166 

Mr. Fales. I said veterans are Democrats and Republicans. 

Mr. MORAN. I understand. I don't know that problems with the 
Postal Service, assuming that there are some, are necessarily indic- 
ative of any negative attitude on the part of the Clinton adminis- 
tration. 

Let me ask Mr. Daub about — and thank you, Mr. Fales. Do you 
think veterans preference should be extended to all military per- 
sonnel that were active during the Persian Gulf war or only those 
personnel and reservists who were called overseas? I want to un- 
derstand your request for the extension of veterans preference. I 
understand Congressman Fox is addressing that in his bill. 

Mr. Daub. Yes. My feelings about the veterans preference for 
Desert Shield and Desert Storm is that anybody that was in direct 
support there of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm should be 
receiving a veterans preference. In our case, when we were called 
up, we were called up as part of the 250,000 reserve and Guard 
call-up. When we were called up; we had no choice as to where we 
went. We were proud to go serve our country. We went and served 
our country over in Germany. That's where they needed us at that 
point in time. 

One of the other individuals that is here today, he ended up in 
England. We also had people that ended up staying up at Westover 
Air Force Base in direct support. Without the individuals that were 
supporting the war from other locations, the theater of operations 
would not have had the food that was required, would not have had 
the materials. 

In our case, in Germany, I was in charge of an area that was re- 
building turboprop engines. We went through 50-some engines, re- 
built them, sent them back to the theater of operations. They 
would not have had those engines in that case. 

Mr. MORAN. I don't deny that, Mr. Daub, and I'm not being 
confrontational, I'm just trying to get some understanding of how 
practical this might be, Congressman Fox's bill. 

His bill ties those who were called to active duty to support 
Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The Defense Department, assum- 
ing the Defense Department can distinguish those in that category 
from others who had no role in liberating Kuwait. You apparently 
have back-up documentation to show that the Defense Department 
can make that distinction, do you? 

Mr. Daub. Yes, I do. My orders state it and also my DD214 
states that I was activated for Desert Shield. 

Mr. MORAN. It might be useful to provide that for the record, to 
show that it can be done. I'm sure he's providing that to Mr. Buy- 
er's subcommittee as well. 

Do you have any rough estimate of how many servicemen and 
women would come under the three categories of one, receiving a 
combat badge for Desert Shield/Desert Storm, two, those who 
would qualify for veterans preference under your bill, and third, 
those who were on active duty on stations while those actions were 
taking place, who would not qualify? Do you have any rough num- 
bers, rough estimates? 

Mr. Daub. No, I don't. 

Mr. MoRAN. At some point we're probably going to need some 
rough estimate to know what the cost impact of the bill would be. 



167 

Mr. Daub. Well, as far as cost impact, to give 5 points veterans 
preference, there is no cost impact. There are no benefits other 
than the 5 points veterans preference that go along with it. 

It's at no cost to the Gk)vernment. All it is saying to the individ- 
uals, you served your country well, and we are going to give you 
this 5 points veterans preference, which will protect you when 
you're in civil service jobs. So it's a no cost situation. 

Mr. MORAN. I understand. OK. That's fine. It might be useful to 
know the scope, but you make a good point. And the other commit- 
tee is probably going to look into that extensively. 

Would it include Haiti and Bosnia operations? 

Mr. Daub. I believe they are all separate, as of right now. And 
I think they fall under expeditionary medals that are out there 
right now. 

Mr. MORAN. Let me ask some questions of Mr. Davis, and I'll try 
to make it fairly quick. 

Were you a Bush appointee or working for a Bush appointee? 
Were you a political appointee? 

Mr. Davis. No, sir. I was not. I was a career civil servant. 

Mr. MORAN. And you went to the Merit Systems Protection 
Board. How did they resolve it? 

Mr. Davis. Well, they ruled against me on the three areas that 
my attorney based the appeal. One was the fairness of the competi- 
tive level, the second was assignment or bumping rights, and the 
third was prohibited personnel practice. The administrative judge 
ruled, yes, these things happened, but for some reason they don't 
really matter. 

What I think was one of the most stunning things for me, and 
my attorney expressed the same concern, was that the full board 
or the three members of the Merit Systems Protection Board did 
not even give my appeal a cursory look. They denied the petition 
to review with just a statement. 

And I had hoped that I could get some sort of idea from them 
why they were taking these stands, certainly on the bumping 
rights, because we could not find anything in the MSPB previous 
cases, and even some of the Federal Appeals Court cases, that pre- 
dated the Merit Systems Protection Board that had narrowed vet- 
erans — they don't call them veterans, they call them lAs, Sub- 
group — lA bumping rights. And I still have not been able to find 
anything, sir, that is that narrow. 

Mr. MORAN. You then appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals? 

Mr. Davis. Yes, I did. 

Mr. MoRAN. And the resolution there? 

Mr. Davis. Well, you know, they have a very, very narrow stand- 
ard of review. And, in fact, well over 90 percent of all MSPB cases 
are affirmed by the Board. 

They said essentially that if 0PM wants to say that certain 
qualifications are for jobs, then it's not their business to tell 0PM 
what are qualifications. So it was a very narrow view on a very 
narrow issue. 

And, also, too, we did not even appeal the prohibited personnel 
practices — that's where the EEO came in, because I understand 
that there are something like two cases in the last 5 years an ad- 



168 

ministrative judge has ruled in favor of the appellant on prohibited 
personnel practices. 

Mr. MORAN. But you were offered a GS-14 job where you would 
have retained your pay and your benefits and your grade level; 
isn't that accurate? 

Mr. Davis. It was quite a diminution of duties, and I had what 
they call "retained pay" for 2 years. One of the things that con- 
cerned me, Mr. Moran, is that I really had to fight for this. During 
the first RIF, I was in a competitive level of 1. In fact, in my grade 
level, which was a 15, 12 of the 15 competitive levels were people 
of 1. 

In the second one, I was put into a separate competitive level 
again, although I was working in an office with four people the 
same grade as me, the same series, who essentially were doing the 
same job, and I was the only one who was put outside of competi- 
tive level. So I had to fight extremely hard to get that overturned, 
and it was obvious to me what was happening next, that we were 
going to have another RIF, and guess what, you're not qualified 
again. 

Mr. MoRAN. You feel that a new redress system should be estab- 
lished, and that there should be some sanctions, penalties for abus- 
ing the veterans preference or denying it. What kind of sanctions 
would you impose, Mr. Davis? 

Mr. Davis. Well, first of all, I think that the people who are re- 
sponsible, actually responsible, for violating one's veterans pref- 
erence and can be proven — I know in my case, again, the person 
who described himself as the architect of the RIF is now a member 
of the Senior Executive Service. He went to other agencies and 
boasted that what was happening with me had nothing to do 
with — in other words, veterans preference and everything else was 
being ignored, because it was a personal animus-type thing. 

I guess the first thing, sir, I would suggest is not to promote 
those people. Obviously, there is no fear, if you will, of violating 
one's veterans preference. I think that the penalty should be along 
the lines of those that are certainly with the Equal Employment 
Opportunity violations. I think that managers should be sanc- 
tioned. I think that certainly attorneys' fees, which you always ac- 
crue, you always end up with an attorney, I think there should be 
no doubt that they should be repaid. 

I have seen proposals where some people say that some of the 
violations have been so egregious against veterans that funding to 
the agency should be a stipulation where it could be withheld. I 
have seen other proposals where perhaps managers could lose the 
sovereignty of the organization and could be sued personally. 

Again, those are strong stipulations, but I think there are a lot 
of violations right now. But I think the first thing, sir, is to get it 
out of — in other words, to have a separate category for veterans 
preference, because as I said, in my case, there was none. You vio- 
late someone's veterans preference, you may violate their gender, 
their sex, or whatever, but you are not violating their veterans 
preference. And that does make a difference, because people out 
there do not in any way hesitate to take on a veteran, because 
there is no penalty. 



169 

Mr. MORAN. OK. I've exhausted both my time and my questions. 
I have to say, I worked during the Nixon and, well, actually 6 years 
during the Nixon administration, and there were a number of polit- 
ical appointees who had been in the Johnson administration, who 
received similar treatment. I think these kinds of things do hap- 
pen. They are unfortunate, and I'm sorry that you've had to go 
through as difficult a time as you obviously have. And I appreciate 
the testimony of all three gentlemen, thank you. 

Mr. Mica. And I also appreciate the testimony of our panelists 
today. 

We tried to pick panelists who can talk from various perspec- 
tives. And certainly John Fales, you represent the voice of many 
veterans and have enunciated today some of their concerns. 

We thank you for your testimony, Mr. Davis. As Mr. Moran, the 
ranking member said, regardless of who is in power or who controls 
the administration, injustice should not prevail, and there should 
be some system for grievance and redress, and one of the purposes 
of this hearing today is to look at what's taking place and how we 
can correct it. So we thank you. 

And, also, Mr. Daub, for your perspective. It is interesting, too, 
to see the changing nature of our veterans and military population 
and the many men and women who now are called up in reserve 
status. It's interesting to see how much more that we rely on those 
individuals as we downsize the military, and they play an impor- 
tant role in a new, changing military establishment. 

So, again, I want to personally thank you on behalf of our full 
committee and subcommittee for your participation today and your 
contribution to this hearing, and we'll excuse you at this time. 

If I may, I would like to call our third panel, and we have several 
organizations who are testifying next. One, the Disabled American 
Veterans, represented by Ron Drach, and also the American Le- 
gion, which is represented by Emil Naschinski. I believe our third 
panelist's flight was canceled. Mr. Kahn is not here; is that correct? 
So we will have two individuals in this panel. 

If you could remain standing, gentlemen, for just a second; as I 
said, this is an investigation and oversight subcommittee, and I 
will swear you in. 

[Witnesses sworn.] 

Mr. Mica. Thank you. 

Mr. MoRAN. Mr. Chairman, I have had some groups backed up 
in my office since 10:30; I'm going to have to go over there. But I 
mean no slight to the witnesses. I'm very sorry that I won't be able 
to listen to their testimony, but I do have their written testimony. 
I thank you for having this hearing, Mr. Chairman. 

Mr. Mica. I thank you, and with that, with those comments from 
the ranking member, I will first welcome Mr. Ron Drach, and what 
we'll do is recognize you for 5 minutes. If you have a lengthy state- 
ment, we will submit it without objection to the record. And if you 
would like to summarize and then we'll also listen to both of you 
and then go back for questions. 

But, Mr. Drach, on behalf of the panel we welcome you and your 
testimony on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans. You're rec- 
ognized, sir. 



170 

STATEMENTS OF RONALD DRACH, NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT 
DIRECTOR, DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS; AND EMIL 
NASCHINSKI, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF ECONOMICS, AMER- 
ICAN LEGION 

Mr. Drach. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. On behalf of 
the DAV, I want to thank you for conducting these hearings today 
and providing us the opportunity to testify on this important issue. 

Much has been said this morning about veterans preference, and 
one thing I would like to point out is that DAV believes that veter- 
ans preference is an entitlement. It was never intended to be a re- 
adjustment benefit. It was never intended to be just something to 
recognize service. It was intended to be an entitlement, and we be- 
lieve it should stay as an entitlement. 

Much also has been discussed about the re-appeal or lack of ap- 
peal rights, redress rights, no investigations, other than a very cur- 
sory one. 

And I think it's very ironic, Mr. Chairman, when you look at 
what the military service members have done for this country over 
the years, the history of our country, that to preserve and protect 
certain rights and benefits that as a class veterans are the only 
group in this country that do not enjoy civil rights as a class. As 
an individual we have civil rights, but as a class, we cannot go to 
EEOC or any other agency and say that our civil rights as a vet- 
eran have been violated. 

In terms of enforcement, there is really only two areas where 
there is any real, I think, meaningful enforcement, although it 
doesn't always pan out in each individual case. One is the rule of 
three, which provides for the initial hiring when the top three can- 
didates must be looked at, and while they are not really an appeal 
right to the veteran for him or herself, there is a process through 
which an agency must justify why they're not selecting a pref- 
erence-eligible over a nonveteran. 

The other is the RIF, which was discussed in great length this 
morning; and of course, there are certain appeal rights that flow 
with the reduction in force. One of the concerns that we've had, 
and it was discussed again briefly this morning, is the delegation 
of hiring authority. 

Starting back in probably 1979 or 1978, there was a case brought 
to court that said that the testing processes through the Civil Serv- 
ice Commission or the Office of Personnel Management were cul- 
turally biased against certain segments of the population. The 
court eventually ruled that the testing at that time was in fact bi- 
ased and had to be thrown out and new testing systems had to be 
put in place. 

I think that was really the start of the delegation of authority, 
if you will. And what concerns me most about what's going on 
today with delegation of authority is that we as an organization 
who represent, you know, more than a million members, have 
enough trouble trying to oversee or get accountability from 0PM in 
its present existence and the current structure of veterans pref- 
erence. 

If you allow every agency, independent and otherwise, every de- 
partment, to have their own personnel system, with their own sys- 
tem of applying veterans preference without any central account- 



171 

ability or central redress system, you might as well forget about 
veterans preference. We're not going to have it. For we won't be 
able to monitor it, and I'm sure you won't be able to monitor it. 
0PM doesn't want to monitor it. 

So we're really going to be in a bind if we continue to allow dele- 
gation of hiring authorities without some mechanism whereby 
there is accountability and that would include some form of redress 
and appeal rights. 

Another area that veterans do enjoy some protections, disabled 
veterans anyway, was added by the Civil Service Reform Act of 
1978, and that deals with medical pass-overs of those individuals 
who are disabled, and the agency proposing to pass over an individ- 
ual must justify to 0PM medical reasons why they're passing over 
that individual or not hiring that individual for medical reasons. 

I've been doing some looking at the correspondence. Like Ser- 
geant Shaft and others, you know, I get tons and tons of mail from 
individual veterans complaining about this and that. I would have 
to say, Mr. Chairman, that the vast majority of complaints that I 
get are from existing employees, and their complaint is not so 
much with veterans preference as such, it's more with affirmative 
action. 

Now, they got hired 5 years ago, 10 years ago, whatever, and 
they were hired as a GS-4, GS-5, and under Title XXXVIII, U.S. 
Code, there is an affirmative action provision that requires Federal 
departments and agencies to take affirmative action for employ- 
ment and advancement in emplojTnent. 

And historically and traditionally, the agencies, when you bring 
this to their attention, they say, "Well, we gave them their veter- 
ans preference when we hired them. That's all we have to do." 
That's not true. Title XXXVIII is very explicit in those actions. But 
most of these individuals are very frustrated because of that. 

I mentioned alternative personnel systems, and there was some 
discussion also about the Postal Service, and that was the first al- 
ternative personnel system, back in 1970, that I'm aware of. And 
what happened there was the Postal Reorganization Act. And if 
you look into the history of that act, you'll find that Congress, both 
houses of Congress, were very explicit in their determination that 
veterans preference would be counted in the new Postal Service. 
And I think we have to look at that. If there is any congressionally 
authorized alternative personnel systems, veterans preference must 
be part of it. 

I would suggest that Section 4703 of Title V dealing with dem- 
onstration projects be amended to provide for veterans preference 
and any alternative systems or demonstration projects. And I have 
many other recommendations that are attached to my statement. 
But I'll conclude with that, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Drach follows:] 



172 



STATEMENT OF 

RONALD W. DRACH 

NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT DIRECTOR 

DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SER VICE 

OF THE 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

APRIL 30, 1996 



MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE: 

On behalf of the more than one million members of the Disabled American Veterans and 
its Auxiliary, I want to thank you for allowing us the opportunity to appear before you today to 
further discuss the issue of veterans' preference in federal employment. 

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Len Gilmer, Associate National Legislative Director of the Disabled 
American Veterans, appeared before this Subcommittee on October 13, 1995, and presented a 
consensus document on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV); American G.l. 
Forum; American Legion; American Veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam 
(AMVETS); Non-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA); Paralyzed Veterans of America 
(PVA); Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW); and, the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). 1 
request the incorporation of that prepared statement into today's proceedings in order to have a 
comprehensive record on the issues. 

In your invitation to appear, you indicate "The purposes of this hearing are to examine 
whether the employment preferences accorded veterans by law are being faithfully applied by the 
federal government and ways in which opportimities for veterans can be improved." The first 
part of that statement, "being faithfully applied by the federal government," provides us an 
opportunity to indict both the Office of Personnel Management and its predecessor agency, the 
Civil Service Commission, as well as the individual departments and agencies. 

Mr. Chairman, this indictment stems from my 21 years as National Employment Director 
for the DAV and the experience gained over those years in dealing with issues surrounding 
veterans' preference violations. The indictment against the federal government is predicated on 
the fact that there has never been a meaningfiil appeal/redress system available to an individual 
veteran or a veterans' service organization (VSO) if either thought veterans' preferences were 
being violated (the exception being in a Reduction In Force {RIF}). In those 21 years Mr. 
Chairman, 0PM, at best, gave a cursory review of a veteran's complaint which most often 
consisted of a report from the alleged offending agency. That report was used as the basis for 
telling the veteran that no violation had occurred. An investigation of the allegations was never 
conducted. 



173 



With a less than aggressive enforcement of veterans' preference by 0PM, many 
departments and agencies took that as a green light to ignore veterans' preference. 0PM has 
consistently taken the position that they do not want to "police" federal agencies in any way. 

Mr. Chairman, preference eligibles are afforded or are statutorily entitled to two 
protections through OPM. One is specifically related to veterans' preference and the other was 
added by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. 

The first one is the "Rule of 3" (Section 3318, Title 5, U.S.C). However, the Rule of 3 
does not convey any specific "appeal rights" to the veteran." Section 3318, subparagraph (a), 
requires "the nominating or appointing authority shall select for appointment to each vacancy 
from the highest three eligibles available..." (Emphasis added). The literal interpretation of 
"shall select" has never been implemented because agencies historically have returned these 
certificates unused. This was a ploy that was unveiled in the late seventies during the Civil 
Service Reform Act debate that agencies used to circumvent veterans' preference. 

With the hiring authority delegated to many agencies for most jobs today, the 
maintenance of a certificate of eligibles is virtually nonexistent. Does this delegation of 
authority itself circumvent veterans' preference and violate the Congressional intent of the 
Veterans' Preference Act to select from certificates of eligibles? We think yes. Has it been 
ongoing? We think at least since 1977 and probably before. 

Second, a benefit for disabled veterans was added by the Civil Service Reform Act and is 
contained in Section 3312(b) Title 5 U.S.C. 

In essence, this provision prohibits federal departments and agencies fi-om denying a 
disabled veteran employment based on a disability without first obtaining approval fi-om OPM. 

Mr. Chairman I receive complaints almost daily, either by mail or by phone, fi-om 
disabled veterans who are experiencing some employment problem. Some of these individuals 
are attempting to find employment either in the private sector, federal sector, state or local 
government. Others are worried about potential RIFs and some are concerned about affirmative 
action and its application to them as a qualified disabled veteran. Still others are concerned that 
either their attempts to obtain federal employment, maintain federal employment, or be promoted 
is impeded by their disability and the discriminatory effects of supervisors or others making a 
decision affecting their employment status. 

1 would have to say that the vast majority of complaints that I get are from disabled 
veteran federal employees (and many times postal employees) who question what affirmative 
action means because their employer will not recognize obligations under affirmative action. 
The authority and responsibility for affirmative action stems from Section 4214, Titie 38, U.S.C. 
However, it is important to point out that since the original enactment of affirmative action by 
Public Law 93-508 the federal government has not enforced the Congressionally mandated 
requirements for employment and advancement in employment for qualified disabled veterans. 
It should also be pointed out that current law does not provide for veterans' preference 



174 



considerations in a promotion or a transfer and all too often the agency's attitude is that veterans' 
preference was used to get the individual into employment and their obligation ends with that. 

Mr. Chairman, in the whole context of veterans' preference, the record should reflect that 
there are two categories of veterans: 1 .) those who are eligible for veterans' preference, and 2.) 
honorably discharged veterans not eligible for veterans' preference. In order for a veteran to be a 
preference eligible, he or she must have: 

• Served on active duty in the armed forces during a war, in a campaign or 
expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized, or during the 
period begiitning April 28, 1952, and ending July 1, 1955; or 

• Served on active duty as defined by Section 1 1 (2 1 ) of Title 3 8 at any time in 
the armed forces for a period of more than 180 consecutive days, any part of 
which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before the date of enactment of the 
Veterans' Education and Employment Assistance Act of 1976 [October 15, 
1976] not including service under Section 51 1(d) of Title 10, pursuant to an 
enlistment in the Army National Guard or the Air National Guard or as a 
reserve for service in the Army Reserve, Naval Reserve, Air Force Reserve, 
Marine Corps Reserve, or Coast Guard Reserve; and who has been separated 
from the Armed Forces under honorable conditions. 

Mr. Chairman, given that defmition, very few of those active military 
servicemembers who served after October 15, 1976 are eligible for veterans' preference. 
However, many of them who were discharged within the last ten years are eligible for a 
Veterans' Readjustment Authority (VRA) appointment authorized by Section 4214, Title 
38 U.S. C. Veterans who received a disability while in the armed services would be 
eligible for "10 point" preference. 

Mr. Chairman, another concern that has been raised is the "potential proliferation 
of alternative personnel systems." The United States Postal Service (USPS) had the first 
alternative persormel system that we are aware of as a result of the Postal Reorganization 
Act of 1 970. In the Congressional debate, it was determined that Congress wanted to 
assure the continuation of veterans' preference in the postal service and so incorporated it 
in both the statute and report language. Alternative personnel systems today may be 
established in two ways: 

1) as a demonstration project (Section 4703, Title 5 U.S.C.) authorized by the Civil 
Service Reform Act of 1978; and 

2) by current Congressional action. Unless Congress amends Section 4703, Title 5 
U.S.C, demonstration projects are permitted to be developed "without regard to other 
law." However, if Congress considers amending Title 5 to allow alternative personnel 
systems for other departments or agencies, Congress itself has the authority, and we 



175 



believe responsibility, to assure strong veterans' preference language is included in any 
such legislation. 

We urge you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this Subcommittee, to talk to your 
colleagues and request their support in assuring any new legislation, be it for a 
restructuring of civil service in general, or establishing alternative personnel systems that 
veterans' preference be made an integral part of any such legislation. 

Mr. Chairman, in the October 13, 1995 testimony, we provided several 
recommendations and concerns. Rather than repeat them in this testimony, they are 
attached. 

Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for allowing us this opportunity and I will be 
happy to answer any questions. 



176 



FROM: 

THE STATEMENT OF LENNOX E. GILMER 

BEFORE THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT 

REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

OCTOBER 13. 1995 



RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCERNS 



While the details of a veterans' preference procedure may change, we urge the Congress 
to maintain veterans' preference principles and ensure that the system can provide meaningful 
monitoring and oversight for uniform implementation of the law. 

We also wish to acknowledge OPM's frequent meetings with veterans' service 
organizations and the many briefings by this administration regarding their draft civil service 
reform proposals. 

We are concerned that the reduction of OP M staff, decentralization of personnel 
functions, and contracting for previously provided 0PM services, will reduce the development of 
adequate veterans 'preference policy oversight and monitoring. For example, we have been 
informed that the 0PM Career Entry Group unit will be virtually done away with. Housed 
within that unit are personnel who decide whether or not federal agencies may pass over veterans 
in hiring and whether or not an agency has inappropriately found a veteran rated at 30 percent 
medically unsuitable for a position. 

Historically, OPM has stringently applied veterans' preference laws, disallowing the vast 
majority of passover of veterans and finding in favor of the veteran in the case of medical 
unsuitability. In these cases, the agencies have aheady made a decision that they do not want to 
hire the veteran. If OPM gives up its authority in this area, the agency will make its own 
decision. Why should the agency reverse itself? We believe the agency will fmd its reasons for 
not hiring the veteran fully justified. 

We urge the Congress to require OPM to maintain passover and medical unsuitability 
decision making at the OPM level. 

We believe that one of the greatest detractors from veterans' preference is the tremendous 
number of non-competitive and excepted appointing authorities. We believe that as agencies 
increased control over the maintenance of registers, utilization of more subjective ranking tools, 
and appointing authorities which do not require rating and ranking of candidates, veterans' 



-177 



preference has suffered. Special hiring authorities, such as that agreed to in the settlement of the 
Luevano lawsuit, have been created which do not require veterans' preference in appointment. 
We encourage this Congress to reduce the number of non-competitive and accepted appointing 
authorities. 

RIF is probably one of the most demoralizing personnel actions to affect an agency's 
workforce. Even those who continue in employment are adversely affected emotionally. As was 
previously cited in this testimony, federal agencies have attempted to creatively avoid veterans' 
preference in reduction. Most notably, the USPS in 1992 conducted what it referred to as a 
reorgani2ation. Ultimately, the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) ruled that the 
reorganization was a RIF and that the USPS had violated veterans' preference eligibles' rights. 
The USPS exhausted its legal remedies when it appealed to the MSPB for a fmal decision. 
Because the USPS disagreed with that adverse decision as well, it appealed to 0PM, which under 
the law, would have to request reconsideration at the Board and failing in that effort, appeal the 
decision to the federal court. 0PM interceded on behalf of the USPS. 

Finally, the President, at the request of veterans' preference organizations and VA 
officials, prevailed on the Justice Department to drop the appeal filed in Federal District Court. 
However, in the meantime, 0PM was circulating draft rules, which if they had been adopted, 
would have incorporated the disputed illegal practices of the USPS in RIF rules. In effect, this 
would have authorized the USPS to do what it had just been ordered by MSPB not to do. 
Veterans' service organizations were successfiil in opposing these rule changes inside OPM. 

It is interesting to note that the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit 
decided on June 29, 1983 that a USPS "Reorganization" in 1975 had been found similarly in 
violation of RIF procedures, but did not require the agency to reverse its actions because there 
was no loss of pay. Benjamin Franklin American Legion Post No. 66, et. al. v. United States 
Postal Service, Til F.2 945 (DC, 1983). Thus, the USPS did not leam from its first mistake, or 
some might argue, did leam from its first mistake and assumed it could get away with it again. 

The Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1994 and 1995 (Public Law 103- 
236) at Section 61 1 authorizes the State Department to write its own RIF rules. "AFSA News: 
flier dated April 7, 1995 outlines State Department proposed rules to implement their new RIF 
personnel policies. 

As outlined in 94 S.T.A.T.E. 263920, the Department's proposed regulations first 
provide for review of those members in a given competition group (i.e., a group 
defined by class and skill code, whose members are competing against each other 
for retention) of employees who are untenured or serving on LCEs. These 
employees will be rank-ordered according to merit. Next, the remaining 
employees in the competition group are ranked according to merit, and the 
resulting order of merit list is divided into three parts: bottom 25 percent, middle 
50 percent, and top 25 percent. Employees will then be riffed according to 
reverse order of merit in the following sequence: non-military preference 
employees in the group of untenured members or those serving on LCEs, military 



178 



preference employees in the group of untenured employees or those serving on 
LCEs, non-military preference employees in the bottom 25 percent, military 
preference employees in the bottom 25 percent, non-military preference 
employees in the middle 50 percent, military preference employees in the middle 
50 percent, non-military preference employees in the top 25 percent, military 
preference employees in the top 25 percent. Within each military preference 
subgroup, veterans with compensable service-connected disability of 30 percent 
or more will be riffed only after all other military preference employees in the 
subgroup. 

Thus, the State Department imdoes veterans' preference as accorded all other Executive 
Branch employees who are covered by Title 5 U.S.C. Unlike the RIF provisions covering Title 5 
personnel, the State Department RIF rules RIF veteran career employees before non- veteran 
career employees rated in a higher merit group. 

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) may have found an interesting method of reducing 
RIF preference by creating numerous one-person competitive levels. If an agency abuses the 
assignment of personnel to competitive levels, it impacts veterans' rights to bump in or retreat to 
positions in their competitive level. We believe that federal agencies sometimes adopt this 
technique to protect certain employees from bumping by veterans' preference eligibles. 

We are very concerned about the creativity of federal agencies as they attempt to avoid 
the effects of veterans' preference in RIF. We encourage that this area of the law be 
strengthened, making it clear that for veterans' preference eligibles, an assignment to a reduced 
grade, although they continue to be paid and maintained at their old grade level, constitutes a 
RIF from which they would derive veterans' preference RIF protections. Veterans should have 
the right to appeal veterans' preference RIF violations to the MSPB. We believe that all federal 
agencies should be subject to these requirements. We see no need to exempt any federal entity 
from these obligations. 

We have noted that Administration proposed civil service reform includes unlimited 
personnel research programs and demonstration projects. We are concerned that the adoption of 
what is described as the Administration proposal would allow an agency as large as DoD to 
declare its whole personnel system a research or demonstration project which ultimately OPM 
could approve, all without approval of the Congress. We believe this authority is much too broad 
and would seriously impact the need for uniformity in the application of personnel rules to 
federal employees. We agree that there should be a mechanism for the federal government to 
conduct persormel research and through demonstration projects, however, we think there should 
be a limit in the size of the project and that OPM not have the right to waive veterans' preference 
principles. We believe that final option of personnel practices should include the oversight of the 
Congress with adoption into law where necessary. 

The Administration has proposed the creation of an appointing authority which would 
allow term appointments for up to five years. After a period of time, employees hired under this 
authority could be non-competitively converted to permanent employees. Although the 



179 



Administration proposal provides for the initial hiring to incorporate veterans' preference, the 
Administration language does not limit the final appointment to the job in which the person was 
temporarily hired. Thus, the appearance is that the Administration, while providing veterans' 
preference in the initial term appointment, might convert such person to any career position 
without regard to veteran status. This undoes veterans' preference in appointment to career 
positions. At the minimimi, such authority should require that a person hired imder this authority 
only be converted into a career appointment in that position. 

We frequently receive calls from veterans alleging that their veterans' preference rights 
have been violated by federal agencies. At this time, they have no administrative recourse which 
will ensure a prompt, in-depth investigation or response to their concerns. Additionally, even 
when the agency admits they created an error, denying the veterans their preferential rights, the 
remedies are generally benign. 

For example, a veteran might be improperly passed over by a federal agency in initial 
appointment. If the agency's errors are discovered, the agency simply offers the veteran a 
priority placement the next time they fill such a position. Thus, the veteran is denied 
employment illegally and may or may not ever be placed in a federal job. We recommend 
amendments to current law providing veterans a complaint process which, in its initial stages, 
would be informal but would allow for appeals ultimately to the federal courts. This legal 
language should incorporate remedies which would provide the veteran all benefits of 
employment as though the original error had not been committed. Thus, they should receive a 
job with seniority pay and all of the benefits as though they had been properly hired initially. 

Title 38 U.S.C. Section 4214 requires federal agencies to write a disabled veteran's 
affirmative action plan for compensably disabled veterans. 0PM has implemented their 
obligation under this law by simply certifying agency plans that meet the regulatory 
requirements. OPM rules do not require oversight, monitoring or a process ensuring affirmative 
action is applied in hiring or promotion. Thus, most of the agency plans are so benign as to have 
no effect. 

For disabled veterans' affirmative action to be treated seriously, we believe the law must 
require a process which will define the intent of Congress. We urge this Subcommittee to amend 
current law consistent with court rulings to provide for affirmative action to be taken among the 
top equally qualified candidates and requiring that disabled veterans be selected for promotion. 
In this scenario, if a compensably disabled veteran is competing for a merit promotion, and the 
disabled veteran is rated as qualified as the most qualified candidate, then the disabled veteran 
must be selected for the position. 

We believe that efforts beginning with the Carter Administration to modify veterans' 
preference have created a culture which is resistant to veterans' preferences as a concept in 
federal civil service. We believe that without centralized enforcement and oversight ensuring 
uniform application of veterans' preference, the various separate agencies are likely to undermine 
any veterans' preference law passed by the Congress. If there is not a centralized monitoring and 
oversight responsibility maintained in an agency, such as OPM, we believe that uniform 



180 



application of veterans' preference will be lost. The Administration plans to streamline and 
downsize federal agencies, including the Office of Personnel Management, along with fiscal 
restraint imposed by this Congress, will result in the loss of a central adjudication of passover 
and medical unsuitability veterans' protections. We urge the adoption of legislative language 
which will require the maintenance of veterans' preference monitoring and oversight as well as 
passover and medical unsuitability responsibilities to assigned personnel in 0PM. 



181 

Mr. Mica. I thank you for your testimony, and now I'll recognize 
the representative of the American Legion, Mr. Naschinski. 

Mr. Naschinski. Chairman Mica, the American Legion appre- 
ciates having this opportunity to share with you our views on the 
reform of veterans preference. We also appreciate your leadership 
in addressing the many problems that currently exist with veterans 
preference. 

As you know, the Veterans Preference Act of 1944 converted the 
existing patchwork of veterans preference laws, administrative 
rules, and Executive orders into a national policy. That legislation 
recognized the sacrifices of America's war veterans by providing a 
slight advantage in Federal hiring and retention. In the beginning, 
Federal agencies gladly complied with the provisions of the new 
veterans preference law. 

Unfortunately, however, as time passed and the memory of war 
faded, so did America's concern for fulfilling her obligation to her 
citizen-soldiers. Today, the provisions of the veterans preference 
law are for all intents and purposes meaningless. 

The American Legion believes that there are several reasons for 
this, Mr. Chairman. First is the fact that Federal managers do not 
understand the reasons for granting veterans preference to those 
who fought to keep this country free, nor do they understand how 
it works. That problem is compounded by the fact that many veter- 
ans are unclear about their rights under the law. 

Another problem stems from the fact that affirmative action pro- 
grams and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provided protection from 
discrimination for women and minorities. That legislation also re- 
quired Federal agencies to establish goals and time tables for the 
recruitment of women and minorities. Because veterans preference 
is an earned entitlement, and not an affirmative action or civil 
rights program, there have never been any quotas for hiring veter- 
ans. 

As a result, there was and is very little incentive for Federal 
agencies to hire veterans. While the American Legion does not op- 
pose increasing emplojmient opportunities for women and minori- 
ties, we do object to the fact that all too often, that goal has been 
accomplished by denying veterans their rights under the law. 

Mr. Chairman, the American Legion believes that a major prob- 
lem with veterans preference is that veterans have no protection 
from discrimination. Unlike women and minorities, veterans have 
never had an adequate redress system for instances of discrimina- 
tion. As a result. Federal mangers routinely discriminate against 
veterans. 

Their rationale in breaking the law is that veterans preference 
prevents them from hiring the most qualified person for the job, or 
because they believe it discriminates against women and minori- 
ties. What they fail to realize, however, is that veterans preference 
is completely neutral with regard to the veteran's gender and/or 
ethnicity. 

With the mandatory downsizing of the Federal Government, 
many Federal agencies have become extremely creative in finding 
ways of circumventing veterans preference. Probably the best ex- 
ample is the 1992 reorganization of the U.S. Postal Service and 



182 

how it used save-pay and save-grade to circumvent veterans RIF 
rights. 

If legislation is introduced as a result of this hearing, it must 
provide a clear, independent and user-friendly mechanism that can 
be utilized by veterans who believe that their veterans preference 
rights have been violated. Veterans must have the right to sue an 
agency or a hiring official if they believe that their veterans pref- 
erence rights have been violated. 

The American Legion fails to see why a Federal official should 
be protected by sovereign immunity if they have broken the law. 
They should also be held accountable if they allow policies to de- 
velop that establish patterns or practices of discrimination against 
veterans, especially disabled veterans in the hiring, promotion and 
retention or the appeal rights process. 

That same legislation must also contain language that will re- 
quire Federal agencies to certify annually as being in compliance 
with veterans preference statutes. Any agency that is not in com- 
pliance with the law should have its funding impounded until such 
time as appropriate corrective action has been taken. 

On behalf of the American Legion's 3 million members, Mr. 
Chairman, again, thank you for allowing us this opportunity to 
share our concerns and recommendations. The American Legion 
looks forward to working with this subcommittee to rectify the 
many problems that currently exist. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Naschinski follows:] 



183 



STATEMENT OF EMIL W. NASCHINSKI, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR 

NATIONAL ECONOMIC COMMISSION 

THE AMERICAN LEGION 

BEFORE THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 

UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

ON 

VETERANS PREFERENCE REFORM 

APRIL 30. 1996 



Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee: 
The American Legion appreciates having this opportunity to 
share its views on the reform of veterans preference. 
Attached to this statement is a copy of Resolution #9, 
entitled Veterans Preference in Reduction-In-Force 
Situations, which was adopted by The American Legion's 
National Executive Committee in May of 1994. Also attached 
is a copy of Resolution #134, entitled Veterans Preference, 
which was adopted at The American Legion's 76th Annual 
National Convention in 1994. We respectfully request that 
both resolutions be made a part of the record of this 
hearing. 

The third item that is attached to our written statement is 
a copy of an article entitled With Preferences Like 
These ... , which appeared in the January 1996 issue of The 
American Legion Magazine. That article reports on some of 
the violations of veterans preference statutes that were 
uncovered by one of the magazine's staff reporters who was 
doing research for a routine article on veterans preference. 
We request that it also be made a part of the record. 

Mr. Chairman, as you and the members of this Subcommittee 
know, America's recognition of her war veterans dates back 
to the Revolutionary War. That recognition was formalized 
in March of 1865 when Congress passed legislation that gave 
federal hiring preference to service-connected, disabled 
veterans of the Union Army. 

Congress realized that those who had fought to protect and 
preserve the Union, and who had become disabled as a result 
of that service, would have great difficulty in securing 
employment. It believed that the Civil Service Act would 
provide a modicum of relief for disabled veterans by 
providing them an opportunity to share in this nation's 
prosperity. 

Over the next few decades, a number of laws, administrative 
rules and executive orders regarding veterans preference 
came into being. One of those laws was enacted at the end 
of World War I when veterans preference was expanded to 
include non-disabled veterans and the widows of veterans who 



184 



died as a result of their military service. Today, those 
who are eligible for veterans preference are known as 
preference eligibles. Mr. Chairman, in this statement, the 
word "veteran" will refer to all preference eligibles. 

When The American Legion was founded in 1919, one of its 
first goals was to convert the existing patchwork of laws, 
administrative rules and executive orders into one national 
policy that would be protected by law. That goal was 
realized 25 years later when President Roosevelt signed the 
Veterans Preference Act of 1944 into law. That legislation 
recognized the sacrifices of America's war veterans by 
providing a slight advantage in federal hiring and 
retention. 

The purpose of the Veterans Preference Act of 1944 was not 
to create a federal workforce made-up entirely of veterans, 
but rather, to address the readjustment needs of the men and 
women who had served their country during a time of war. It 
also was meant to assist them in regaining the lost ground 
their civilian careers had suffered as a result of the 
months and years spent in military service. 

In the beginning, the federal government gladly complied 
with the provisions of the new veterans preference law. 
Unfortunately, however, as time passed and the memory of war 
faded, so did America's concern for fulfilling her 
obligation to her citizen-soldiers. Today, the provisions 
of the original legislation and its amendments as codified 
in Title 5, U. S. C. are, for all intents and purposes, are 
meaningless. 

Mr. Chairman, The American Legion believes that there are 
several reasons for this. First is the fact that many 
federal managers do not understand the reason for granting 
veterans preference to those who fought to keep this country 
free, nor do they understand how it works. That problem is 
compounded by the fact that many veterans are unclear about 
their rights under veterans preference statutes. 

The American Legion's National Veterans Preference Committee 
recognized those problem a number of years ago and published 
a pamphlet entitled Questions and Answers About Veterans 
Preference. It was meant to answer the questions veterans 
most commonly ask about this entitlement. It was also meant 
to be a tool for educating the general public about veterans 
preference. Questions and Answers About Veterans Preference 
was widely distributed through The American Legion's 16,000 
Posts. 

Another problem stems from the fact that Congress passed 
legislation which provided protection for women and 
minorities and which also required federal agencies to 
establish "goals" and "timetables" for the recruitment of 



185 



NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 

OF 

THE AMERICAN LEGION 

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA 

MAY 4-5, 1994 



RESOLUTION NO 9 

SUBJECT: Veterans' Preference in Reduction-in-Force Situations 



WHEREAS, The National Veterans Preference Act of 1944 established certain veterans' 
rights concerning employment in Federal government, and 

WHEREAS, One of those rights is protection in Reduction in Force (RTF) situations, and 

WHEREAS, In August 1992, the Postmaster General aiuiounced a plan to restructure the 
United States Postal Service (USPS); and 

WHEREAS, That restructuring involved a significant downsizing of the agency's 
management structure, affecting approximately 30,000 positions, and 

WHEREAS, On November 2, 1992, the Postmaster General announced that no layoffs 
would result from the restructuring and that employees who moved to positions at lower 
grades than their pre-restructuring positions would receive indefinite saved grade and 
saved pay, and 

WHEREAS. The term "saved pay" means that employees will not experience a reduction 
in base salary, however, if the employee's base salary exceeds the maximum base salary of 
the position to which they are assigned as a result of the restructuring, they will not 
receive pay raises or cost of living increases until the maximum base salary of the position 
into which they are assigned reaches the employee's current salary, and 

WHEREAS, Although both veterans and non-veterans have been affected by this policy, 
the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) has ruled that the USPS is in violation of the 
law as set forth in Title 5, United States Code, concerning veterans in RDF situations; and 

WHEREAS, MSPB's decision has been stayed pending an intervention by the Office of 
Personnel Management which contends that when saved grade and saved pay are provided 
there is no RIF and hence no appeal process is available to affected employees, and 

WHEREAS. The actions of both USPS and 0PM are in clear violation of the intent of 
Congress, now, therefore, be it 



186 



RESOLVED, By the National Executive Committee of The American Legion in regular 
meeting assembled in Indianapolis, Indiana, on May 4-5, 1994, that The American Legion 
reaffirms its strong opposition to any and all efforts to nullify or circumvent existing 
veterans preference statutes; and be it further 

RESOLVED, That The American Legion strongly opposes the continuation of the policy 
of saved grade and saved pay nullifying a reduction in force as it is not compatible with the 
intent of Congress regarding the rights of veterans in reduction-in-force situations. 



187 



SEYTN-n -SIXTH NATIONAL CONVENTION 

OF 

THE AMERICAN LEGION 

MINNEAPOLIS, MUSNESOTA 

SEPTEMBER6, 7, 8, 1994 



RESOLUTION NO 134 

SUBJECT VETERAiNS PREFERENCE 

WHEREAS, Our federal government specially selected as mentally, morally and physically 
fit, certain members from its society, specially trained this group, subjected them to 
stringent rules and regulations, removed them from home, family and employment, asked 
of them a special sacnfice, and required some of them to suffer wounds they will live with 
forever, and 

WHEREAS. A gratefijl nation through its representatives in the Congress of the United 
States and state legislatures, has in recognition of that special service and loss of 
employment opponunity while defending the country in time of need, extended a long 
history of employment the returning veterans by enacting the Veterans Preference Act as 
contained in Title 5, USC, and Chapter 3-3, South Dakota Code, and 

WHEREAS, The term "veteran" includes everv' category of society - sex, age, religion, 
ethnic group, race and creed, and 

WHERE.AS. Absence from the highly competitive job market due to military service 
creates an unfair and unequal burden on veterans in competing for federal and state jobs, 
and 

WHERE.AS. The Veterans Preference Lavs, accomplished the legislative purpose of 
hononng veterans and provides a small ad\antage in competing for federal and state jobs, 
and 

WHERE.AS, There are prominent groups and individuals in the United States today who 
ignore the employment disadvantages accrued bv individuals due to military service, who 
blindly allege that veterans preference is "discnminatory", who blatantly overemphasize 
the advantages of veterans pretercncc although presumably aware of the fact that 
approximately 38 million veterans in our population have not chosen or have not been 
successful m obtaining a federal or state position, now, therefore, be it 

RESOLVED, By The Amencan Legion m National Convention assembled in Minneapolis, 
Minnesota. September 6, 7. 8. 19Q4. that the President of the United States and governor 
of each state be informed that this organization deplores each and every attempt to 
degrade, dilute or modify the historical precedent of giving job eligibility preference to 



188 



those who are taken from their comniunities to serve their country in time of "war, and that 
the President and govemcrs reject any and all proposed legislation that would reduce 
employment opportunities for veterans in the federal or state work force, and be it funher 

RESOLVtD, that The Amencan Legion strongly support veterans' preference in federal, 
state, and local employment, as provided by a gratefijl nation, and oppose any effort to 
reduce this preference, and be it further 

RESOLVED, that The American Legion reaffirms its strong opposition to any and all 
efTons to nullify or circumvent existing veterans preference statutes 



189 




PmeniKs 



tti 



for /efr-seelrers, 
being a veteran 
vsed to mean 
you got a leg 
up. Now It often 
means you get 
a thumbs down. 

By Ken Scharnberg 




HEN John Minnick 
applied for a public- 
relations position at 
the federally spon- 
sored Holocaust Mu- 
seum in Washington. 
DC, he felt opti- 
mistic. After all. he 
had a solid track 
related experience, coupled 
nagerial expertise. And 
t was a federal job. Min- 



nick — a disabled veteran — 
thought thai veterans pref- 
erence statutes would give 
him just the edge he need- 
ed. 

"My application was one 
of four selected by the Office of Per- 
sonnel .Management (OPM) and for- 
warded to the Holocaust Museum per- 
sonnel director." says Minnick. who 
learned through a friend at OPM that 
he had scored the most points under 
the federal application-rating system. 

Then things took a strange turn. 
The museum personnel manager 
called OPM and said the establishment 
preferred somebody else — a non-vet- 
eran. It wasn't that Minnick was 
unqualified The personnel manager 
simply wanted the other applicant. 

Just like that, Minnick was out. and 
another candidate was in. 

What John Minnick experienced is 
a direct violation of veterans prefer- 
ence statutes that affect thousands of 
veterans each year. The blunt truth is 
that veterans preference laws are regu- 
larly Ignored or circumvented by fed- 
eral hiring managers (some of whom 



will go so far as to reject 
entire lists of candidates 
simply because a veteran's 
name appears on that list). 
Worse, there is litlle a vet- 
eran can do to redress the 
wrong. For example, when Minnick 
complained about the incident, he was 
told that the personnel manager at the 
museum was new, and that an inexpe- 
rienced OPM staff member had erred 
And that was that. Excuses, but no 
job. 

Years ago. John Minnick's story 
might have had a different ending 
Thai's because years ago. veterans 
preference in federal employment was 
taken far more seriously. The laws 
first took life as pan of the GI Bill and 
were based on a solid rationale: Mili- 
tary service interrupts an individual's 
normal career progress To level the 
playing field, the government devel- 
oped a point system for federal job 
testing. To give veterans an edge, five 

Ken Scharnberg is veterans affairs 
editor of THE AMERICAS LEGION 

MACMINE 



THE AMERICAN L£G>ON 



190 



points were awarded for wanime ser- 
vice (or more recenlly. for having 
served in a war zone). 10 points if the 
veteran had a service-connected dis- 
ability. The points would be added to 
any federal employment exam with a 
score of 70 or more. And that is how 
things generally worked — until 1978. 

That year. President Carter's Reor- 
ganization Plans abolished the Civil 
Service Commission (CSC), the gov- 
erning body that heard and ruled on 
veterans preference appeals. The CSC 
was replaced by the Merit System 
Protection Board (MSPB). and the 
United Slates Code was rewritten so 
that "hearings and appeals with 
respect to veterans preference " 
became "hearings and appeals with 
respect to examination ratings. " A 
subtle change, perhaps, but it is now 
clear that 0PM and MSPB no longer 
interpret the law in a maruier consis- 
tent with its meaning and spirit prior 
to 1978. 

Accordmg to OPM figures, some 
615,080 non-postal-employee veter- 
ans were working for the federal gov- 
ernment at the end of FY91. This 
was down by 138.000 from FY87. an 
18.3 percent drop OPM attributed to 
the agmg veteran population. By 
FY94, the figure had dropped to 
560.028. a number that includes the 
12,610 veterans newly hired the same 
year, according to OPM. All told, 
both the number of veterans currently 
in federal employment and the num- 
ber being brought in are shrinking. 

And yet, since 1991. expeditionary 
medals — the current basis for grant- 
ing preference to non-disabled veter- 
ans — have been awarded to about 1 
million Gls of the Gulf War, Somalia 
and Haiti With that many "new" vet- 
erans qualified for preference in fed- 
eral hiring, plus those from the Viet- 
nam era seeking a mid-life career 

change, the number of veterans 

1 federal jobs should be going y^j 



deny that much is amiss During a 
recent meeting on the issue. OPM 
director James King said his depan- 
ment fully supported veterans prefer- 
ence. Richard Weidman of the Veter- 
ans Economic Action Coalition 
remains skeptical. "Thats just so 
much smoke." said Weidman. who 
contends that blatant violations of vet- 
erans preference laws take place regu- 
larly "What OPM docs not seem to 
understand is that veterans preference 
is the law, " said Weidman. "It's nui 



The blunt truth Is 
that veterans 
preferente laws 
tarry very little 
weight and are 
regularly Ignored 
or clrtumvented. 






, the federal 
the nati 



gov- 



largest employer of disabled 
veterans; overall, about 20 7 
percent of all federal employ- 
ees outside of the postal sys- 
tem are veterans. This sounds 
like an impressive percentage 
until the numbers are com- 
pared to data from when CSC was 
still intact In 1975. half of M federal 
employees — 1.35 million workers — 
were veterans. 

Officially, the government tends to 



F 



m 




',M»iuiSiS'^ 



191 



With Preferences Like These.. 




they can ignore because il 
IS inconvenient. Moreover, il is an 
earned righl. Il was not granted to 
them by accident." 

The growing anti-veteran bias is 
clearly visible once you learn to 
decode the govemmem's often-con- 
fusing memos and reports. For exam- 
ple, in a repon on federal hiring sub- 

Today, about 20.7 
percent of all 
federal employees 
outside of the postal 
system are veterans. 
In 1975, half of all 
federal employees— 
13,5 million workers 
—were veterans. 



milled to Vice President Al Gore, the 
MSPB staled. "The interaction of two 
staffing requirements embedded in 
federal personnel law — veterans pref- 
erence and the "Rule of Three" — is 
widely viewed as an impediment to 
good hiring practices." What this 
means in English is that the lop three 
or more candidates for a government 
job (based on points scored) are for- 



tion; the so- 
"impedimenl lo good 
huing" IS that if one of 
the three is a veteran, the manager is 
supposed 10 give preference to that 
individual Indeed, later in its repon. 
the MSPB proposes legislation to 
undercut or abolish the Rule of Three 
Such a step would formalize the con- 
tempt for veterans preference now 
practiced informally by many federal 
hiring managers. 

Govertunenl managers justify their 



the federal work force " They say they 
warn the flexibility to hire a non-veter- 
an applicant — for example, a recent 
college graduate — who scored higher 
on ihe exam when one deducts the 
bonus points awarded lo Ihe veteran 
simply for being a veteran. 



Ho 



unde 



sting I 



manager already has the option of 
rejecting the entire list and requesting 
a new one. Taking advantage of this 
loophole is a common practice, 
according to James Hubbard, director 
of the Legion's National Economic 
Division. Hubbard .says lists may be 
rejected several times until the manag- 
er finds the "nghl" person. The GAO 
confirms that about 71 percent of 
applicant lists containing a veteran at 
the lop are returned as a result of 



"candidates lacking desired qualifica- 
tions." Tellingly, when no veteran's 
name appears on the list. 51 percent 
are relumed 

Compounding the bias against vet- 
erans, according lo Preston Taylor, 
director of the Department of Labor's 
Veterans Employment and Training 
Services, is the fact that the federal 
government is undergoing a massive 
reduction-in-force (RIF) By law, dur- 
ing a RIF, a veteran has "bumping 
rights," which simply means he or she 
can transfer into another position of 
the same level and "bump" a non-vet- 
eran or an employee with less tenure. 
Because veterans preference gives vet- 
erans such statutory protections during 
RIFs. other federal employees see 
them as a threat All of which leaves 
non-veleran federal personnel feeling 
"angry and scared." says Taylor. 
But there is a subtler reason 
why veterans are often shunted 
aside m favor of others, at least 
by civilian government contrac- 
tors subject to federally mandat- 
ed hiring policies: fear of dis- 
crimination cases brought by 
minorities A person protected 
by Equal Employment Opportu- 
niry (EEO) laws who is discrim- 
inated against can sue and col- 
lect damages. Faced with the choice of 
a possible reprimand from OPM 
(which rarely happens anyway) or the 
very real threat of legal action and 
monetary settlemeni with those pro- 
tected under EEO. contract employers 
routinely reject veteran applicants in 
favor of women and minorities, says 
the Veterans Economic Action Coali- 
tion (VEAC). 

Interestingly. VEAC. a veterans 
preference advocacy organization, 
cites a handful of suits that tried to 
apply EEO guidelines in veterans pref- 
erence cases, without success. It seems 
veterans are not included in the classes 
protected from discrimination under 
federal civil nghts laws. 

UNFORTUNATELY, even when 
the veteran lands the job. that 
doesn't always end the problem 
The grim truth is that the job protec- 
tion that once existed for veterans is 
rapidly being eroded. 

Consider what has happened in the 
U.S. Postal Service Some 278.000 
veterans were employed in 1991 by 
the postal system, the nation's largest 
veteran employer. In 1994, newly 
PleaiC turn lo page 82 



192 



PREFERENCES 

Conlinued from page 42 



appoinied Posimasler General Marvin 
Runyon, under orders lo downsize the 
massive USPS, hit upon a cunning 
plan. Knowing ihal he could nol 
undertake an actual RIF wiihoul run- 
ning afoul of veterans preference 
statutes. Runyon instead shuffled his 
people around, moving former man- 
agers into low-ranking positions 
where they were supervised by indi- 
viduals of lesser grade and tenure 
Coupled with this was a freeze on all 
raises and cost of living adjustments 
for the former managers until the pay 
of the lower-paid supervisors eventu- 
ally rose to meet the former managers* 
incomes through annual COL.^s— a 
process that could take many years. In 
this way. the USPS would save mil- 
lions by not having to pay salary 
increases or COL.^s. 

The affected employees, veteran 
and non-veteran alike, appealed to the 
MSPB. which agreed that the demo- 
tions did in fact constitute a RIF Run- 
yon wanted to appeal the decision, but 
fortunately for postal employees. Pres- 
ident Clinton stepped in and told him 
to return them to their former posi- 



ITILL. Runyon had a trump card to 

|play. He abolished some positions 
I paper, then renamed them and 
gave them revised duties. Thus, when 
veterans demanded their old jobs 
back. Runyon was able to tell some of 
them truthfully— if unfairly— "That 
position no longer exists." 

In an interesting footnote to the 
postal caper, Joseph J. Mahon Jr . 
OPM's vice president of labor rela- 
tions, wrote that among other things. 
Runyon's RIF was "too likely to have 
an adverse effect on minorities and 
women in the work force ' By law and 
regulation, the only people whose jobs 
are protected during a RIF are veter- 
ans. 

Yet somehow, affirmative action 
became the larger consideration over 
veterans preference, once more reveal- 
ing the government's true priorities. 

In document after document, 
whether from the L'SPS or other gov- 
ernment agencies, the overriding con- 
cern seems to be minority bi.Hjy count: 
Do we have enouiih blacks. Hispaniis 
and witmen in our workplace''^ Sudly. 
where veterans are concerned, the 



H 



question too often seems to be. Can 
we think up anoiher loophole lo avoid 
veterans preference! 

Take the case of John L. Davis, a 
GS-15 civilian employee with the 
Army Corps of Engineers. A Korean 
veteran. Davis had worked for the 
government for 40 years. In March 
1993. he was notified that his position 
would be eliminated as part of a RIF. 
According to Davis, there were as 
many as six positions at the GS-15 
level within his department that he 
should have been able lo bump to. His 
application to these positions was 
denied because, according to the civil- 
ian personnel officer, he was unquali- 
fied. He was offered a lower-paying 
job in another government office, 
which he ultimately was forced to 
accept. 

E APPEALED the decision to the 
MSPB Though he acknowledged 
that "da\-io-"day administrative 
management of an office" was the 
only qualification he lacked for the 
position, he reminded the board he had 
similar experience at a lower pay 
grade. (In any case, federal managers 
have conceded in court that few peo- 
ple step into these managerial slots 
with every criterion fully met ) 

Davis argued that he was denied his 
right to bump due lo office politics and 
personal animosity. He supplied wit- 
nesses who testified that after he told 
another manager he intended lo bump 
for the job in the event of a RIF. the 
manager complained to the director. 
Court records also showed that review 
board personnel intended to "teach 
Davis a lesson." Those same records 
contained statements that "he ascend- 
ed fast, so he could descend fast." and 
that there were "political conse- 
quences" to Davis' actions 

Administrative Judge William L. 
Boulden wrote. "I find that (Davis) has 
established that (two review board 
members) were motivated by personal 
animus with regard to the appellant's 
rights under the RIF. and thus, the 
agency's determination of those rights 
could, under the circumstances, have 
been based on prohibited personnel 
practices." 

A great victory for Davis? Not 
quite. Boulden wound up ruling 
against him. basing his decision on the 
dubious argument that Davis lacked 
managerial experience in the higher 
pay grade. 

And there was nothing Davis could 
do about II. (Nor does the injustice end 
there, apparently: Susan Odom. a 
coworker and one of the people who 



testified on E)avis' behalf, claims that 
the Department of the Army is now 
retaliating against her husband and 
her.) 

The State [department has concoct- 
ed yet another method to ensure that 
"favored" non-veterans are retained 
within the government. Here the work 
force is divided into three sections, or 
"cones": the top-ranking 25 percent, 
the middle-ranked 50 percent; and the 
lowest-ranked 25 percent. Each cone 
is treated as a separate entity. This 
means the veterans in the highest cone 
enjoy full preference and RIF protec- 
tion — but it also means the non-veter- 
ans in the top level have preference 
and protection from veterans in the 
two lower cones 

Thus, as so often happens, the gov- 
ernment has applied veterans prefer- 
ence rules in an uneven, be-thankful- 
for-small-favors manner. And still, as 
Ray Smith, chairman of the Legion's 
National Economic Commission, puts 
it. "You can count on some manager 
or director figuring out some way to 
sidestep the rules." 

THE SEARCH for silver linings in 
all this leads mostly to a handful of 
individuals waging their own per- 
sonal war on behalf of veterans. For 
instance. PUFL Legionnaire Robert 
Donahue, a Local Veterans Employ- 
ment Representative in Charles City, 
Iowa, received The Amencan Legion 
National Outstanding Employment 
Service Officer Award for work place- 
ment, training and schooling of veter- 
ans. Donahue, a member of Post 278 
in Osage. Iowa, found ways to get jobs 
for veterans in an area plagued by low 
employment. 

Another "point of light" shines 
within the Department of New York, 
where the VEAC's Rick Weidman also 
is the department's veterans employ- 
ment chairman According to Depart- 
ment Adjutant Richard Pedro. Weid- 
man and others have begun an 
aggressive effort to train, counsel and 
find employment for New York veter- 
ans Other Legion Departments — 
notably South Carolina. Wisconsin and 
Utah — are also actively involved in 
finding veterans work in the private 

But admirable as these efforts may 
be, they do little to tip the scales of 
injustice that played havoc with the 
likes of John Minnick, John Davis and 
many thousands of other veterans — 
men and women who made the mis- 
take of believing that veterans prefer- 
ence laws actually meant what they 
said 3 



THE «M£iaC*N LfGlCIN 



193 

Mr. Mica. I thank both of you, and you both represent probably 
the most distinguished veterans organizations and have been so ac- 
tive in keeping veterans concerns before the Congress, and we ap- 
preciate your testimony. 

Gentlemen, I've only been here for 36 months, but I've seen a lot 
of changes, they have been taking place, and there are going to be 
taking place, tremendous changes in the Federal workforce, the 
way we conduct the Government, governmental operations. 

Before us, coming in the next few days, probably, is a proposal 
by the administration which Mr. Moran and I are going to intro- 
duce to make some reforms in civil service and reforms in manage- 
ment style. What we did a few years ago, we're not doing in the 
same way. I use this to preface it, you know, there are changes 
coming and we need to prepare for them. 

We will probably have a more — well, we already have a more de- 
centralized personnel system. Maybe welfare as we know it still re- 
mains the same, but 0PM as we know it is changed. We're seeing 
a decentralization of its authority, more changes in management 
style, more based by particular activity or function. And I think 
that will continue. 

We're also seeing privatization, which will be another challenge. 
And my question to you is what system can we legislatively man- 
date or put in place which would ensure, one, that there is some 
recognition, real recognition, of veterans preference; second, that 
there is a grievance procedure and an appeal process? 

So, again, think of this new structure and tell me how you would 
put this in place, what would be your recommendation, if you 
wouldn't mind discussing that, Mr. Drach? 

Mr. Drach. Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. We've been strug- 
gling with that a number of years. DAV and the other veterans 
service organizations came to pretty much an agreement a couple 
of years ago that veterans preference isn't really working the way 
it did 50 years ago, in a large part because of the way the Federal 
Government is now doing its hiring. 

What we haven't agreed on yet is what we would like to see hap- 
pen in terms of any changes, so we're still — we have an informal 
group of the major veterans organizations that will be meeting to 
discuss this in a little bit more detail. But let me just make some 
general comments. 

One is, as I stated earlier, with the decentralization, I don't know 
how many agencies and departments there are, but if each one has 
their own personnel system, which is the way I think we're going, 
you're going to have each one doing their own thing. It's almost like 
trying to monitor IBM. IBM may have one hiring policy in New 
York and one in Denver and one in Florida and one in California. 
How can we, as an organization, monitor and assure that veterans 
preference will be applied? 

I think as a start, any new legislation must be very explicit in 
the congressional intent that you mean that veterans preference 
will apply. Now, whether that veterans preference takes the form 
of what we've had for the last 50-some years or whether it takes 
some other new form, we're not sure. 

We think it needs to definitely take a new form in terms of an 
appeal, and Mr. Buyer has asked us as a folio wup to a hearing last 



194 

week to provide him with some ideas on what we think that appeal 
process should look like. Again, this is an area that the veterans 
service organizations have talked about and have yet to come to 
real agreement beyond the principle. 

And I think, I forget who mentioned it earlier, there has to be 
some informal process first, try to resolve it informally with time 
limits so that an agency can't drag this out for 2 or 3 years. After 
a certain timeframe, the next step in that appeal process would 
kick in, eventually leading to courts and let the courts decide. 

Mr. Mica. Thank you. Mr. Naschinski, you had a method of 
gentle persuasion, which you recommended — cut off their funding, 
I think it was. 

Mr. Naschinski. That may be a bit drastic, but I think it would 
work. 

Mr. Mica. You know how to get to the heart of the matter. But 
maybe you could relate to the subcommittee your recommendations 
for how we can address some of these problems: decentralization, 
the different management styles, the enforcement of veterans pref- 
erence, and then the grievance and appeals process. 

Mr. Naschinski. Mr. Chairman, let me say that I concur with 
everything that my colleague Mr. Drach said, and I also concur 
with something that was said earlier today. Mr. Fales rec- 
ommended, if I understood him correctly, that a system be devised 
that would be modeled on EEOC. We believe that would be a real 
deterrent to the kinds of discrimination we currently see going on. 

The other thing, of course, is making Federal managers respon- 
sible for their actions. If they want to break the law, fine, but they 
will have to pay the consequences. 

Mr. Mica. One of the other areas that we're seeing dramatic 
changes and will see dramatic changes in, is privatization. Some 
functions are now being privatized, ESOPs are becoming more the 
norm, or will be instituted for various Government and formerly 
all-governmental functions. 

Do you think we should be giving some preference to veterans 
who would be willing to take on some of these privatization tasks? 
Is that an area that we might consider, Mr. Drach? 

Mr. Drach. Absolutely, Mr. Chairman. You asked a question dif- 
ferent from what I thought you were going to ask. But by all 
means, right now we have veterans who contact us consistently 
about wanting to start their own businesses and going through the 
Small Business Administration. And there are no programs cur- 
rently in the law that provide any meaningful preference or any- 
thing for veteran-owned businesses or those who want to own their 
own business. 

I think the ESOP idea certainly gives them an opportunity to 
start their own business. Whether that person be a potentially dis- 
placed employee or whether it be somebody that's already out there 
in the private sector, who may already have a small business or 
wanting to start a small business, we would certainly support some 
sort of veterans preference language in that. 

Mr. Mica. Do you have a comment, Mr. Naschinski? 

Mr. Naschinski. Once again, I concur with what my colleague 
has said. For some time now, the American Legion has been work- 
ing with the Small Business Administration and the offices of small 



195 

and disadvantaged business utilization within various Federal 
agencies to promote employment opportunities for veterans and 
small business opportunities for veteran-owned businesses. 

I've lost my train of thought. But, yes, we would be in favor of 
that. 

Mr. Mica. One of the other areas that we're facing now is the 
reduction in force and the civilian defense employees have certainly 
taken the brunt of some of the reductions in force, and we've also 
seen the problem of the single position competitive levels in RIFs. 

How do you see us dealing with this problem — the veterans who 
are being thrown overboard in kind of a wholesale fashion. Do you 
have any recommendations for addressing this, Mr. Drach? 

Mr. Drach. Mr. Chairman, RIFs today are somewhat new in the 
sense that we haven't undergone real major RIFs in the last 20 
years that I've been in Washington, working on employment issues. 
There have been sporadic ones. But one of the things that I've 
found out early on back in the 1970's when there were RIFs was 
that — I want to be careful how I say this, because I don't want to 
sound like I want to micromanage agencies and I don't want to ask 
you to micromanage agencies. But in a RIF there is a lot of latitude 
as to the number of jobs that are going to be abolished, the location 
of the jobs that are going to go, the functions that are going to go. 

And an example, if you really want to do away with veterans in 
a RIF, what you do is you look at a concentration of a particular 
function where veterans may hold a lot of those jobs. And if you 
restrict that reduction in force to that function, who is going to go? 
The veteran, because, you know, for the most part they may not 
have bumping rights. And so if they are in a particular function 
there and you abolish that function, then the competitive area, the 
competitive level is very narrow. And that can be done with impu- 
nity right now. 

If I'm told that I have to get rid of 10 percent of my workforce, 
I'm not told who they have to be. I'm not told where they have to 
be from. I'm told to reduce it by 10 percent, and I have a lot of 
flexibility to determine who I want to get rid of. 

How you protect against that without some micromanagement, 
I'm not really sure. I think a strong appeal process, maybe separate 
from MSPB, that would be appropriate. And sometimes you wonder 
are they trying to get rid of me because I'm a veteran, or are they 
trying to get rid of me because they don't like me, or are they try- 
ing to get rid of me because I really don't adequately perform? 

It's difficult to fire somebody through an adverse action. So a RIF 
may be a real palatable alternative to an adverse action to get rid 
of somebody they don't like. But it's very easy to formulate a RIF 
that affects 90 percent or higher of only veterans. 

Mr. Mica. Mr. Naschinski, did you want to comment on this RIF 
situation? 

Mr. Naschinski. Well, as I pointed out in the testimony, some 
agencies are having trouble calling a spade a spade. Postal Service 
was one example, and there are many others. Saved-pay and 
saved-grade was nothing but a RIF. And on two occasions, MSPB 
found in favor of the veterans. Even then the Postal Service was 
willing to file another appeal, which is just beyond belief. 



196 

I might just tell you one other quick story. This is rather sad. 
I recently had a letter from a veteran who worked for GAO and he 
was outstationed in one of their field offices. And because of 
downsizing, GAO realized that they had to get rid of so many peo- 
ple. Of course they were going to try and use attrition to the great- 
est possible advantage. And then they decided that they couldn't 
meet their goals by simply using attrition, so they decided that 
they would close their field offices. And what they did was they 
made each field office a separate competitive area. And the employ- 
ees within that office were not allowed to transfer out, and when 
the office was closed, the veteran had — in fact, all of the employees 
had — no place to go. Veterans certainly couldn't have utilized their 
bump and retreat rights in that instance. 

So this gentleman who was an 18-year employee of GAO, with 
many outstanding ratings, was suddenly out on the street. There 
is something wrong, Mr. Chairman, with a system like that. 

Mr. Mica. Well, we're trying to find solutions to some of the 
problems that we've heard detailed today. 

Mr. Naschinski. You can certainly count on the American Le- 
gion's cooperation and support through that process. We will be 
more than happy to work with you in resolving some of these prob- 
lems. 

Mr. Mica. These are complex issues and sort of a target that's 
moving and changing almost as we speak and meet here today. So 
it's quite a challenge for the Congress, and even for your organiza- 
tions, as far as coming up with exact remedies. But, again, that's 
part of the purpose of this hearing today. 

Now, I think both of you are familiar with Congressman Fox's 
bill, which would extend veterans preference to individuals who 
served in connection with Operations Desert Shield and Desert 
Storm. I think you may have been here when he testified earlier. 

Do you support that bill, Mr. Drach; and has your organization 
taken positions on it? 

Mr. Drach. We have no official position based on a resolution 
from our national convention, Mr. Chairman, but we did testify a 
couple of years ago at an earlier Congress on a very similar bill 
that may have been introduced by Mr. Oilman. I don't recall ex- 
actly who introduced it about 3 or 4 years ago. 

The only concern I have, and I haven't read the bill in its en- 
tirety, the only concern that I have is determining who is "in sup- 
port of." Several years ago we looked at that issue at it relates to 
the veterans readjustment appointing authority for Vietnam era 
veterans. And the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee wanted to 
narrow that eligibility to those who served in combat or in a com- 
bat-support role. And after talking with DOD and others, every- 
body realized that it would probably become an administrative 
nightmare to try to validate that or to prove. 

The DD214, which is commonly used to establish veterans pref- 
erence, typically wouldn't have that kind of information on it that 
I was in Germany in support of Desert Storm. So we would take 
it a step further. You know, the cold war is over but are we any 
safer today than we were during the cold war. People go into the 
military service to serve their country. Why shouldn't they be al- 



197 

lowed to have veterans preference when they come out from serv- 
ing their country. 

And we would suggest that you take a look at extending that 
through the whole era, the same as we did for Vietnam back — I 
don't remember exactly when it was extended, but Title V was 
amended to include the whole Vietnam era and we would suggest 
that you take a look at extending it to the whole era. 

Mr. Mica. Mr. Naschinski. 

Mr. Naschinski. Mr. Chairman, the American Legion does have 
a position. We adopted a resolution several years ago calling for 
veterans preference to be extended not only to those who were in 
receipt of the Southwest Asia Service Medal, but to all who were 
called up during that period. And, in fact, to all who were in the 
service during the Desert Storm Era. As you know, that's still 
going on. 

I will be happy to provide you with a copy of our resolution. 

[The information referred to follows:] 



198 



SEVENTY-FOURTH NATIONAL CONVENTION AMERICAN LEGION 
RESOLUTION NO. 408 



Subject: Veterans' Preference for Desert Shield/Storm Veterans 



WHEREAS, America has traditionally shown her gratitude to those citizen soldiers who served 
during a war or armed conflict by providing certain entitlements; and 

WHEREAS, One of those entitlements has been a small advantage when seeking federal 
employment and in the retention of that employment; and 

WHEREAS, One criterion for granting veteran preference to any group of veterans is that they 
served honorably during a war or that they received a campaign badge or expeditionary medal; 
and 

WHEREAS, Veteran preference is granted to those honorably discharged veterans who served a 
minimum of 180 consecutive days on active duty (other than for u-aining) any part of which 
occurred after February 1. 1955, and before October 15, 1976, unless discharged for a service- 
connected disability; and 

WHEREAS, A criterion for granting veterans preference to those who entered the military after 
September 7, 1980, is that they must have served on active duty for a minimum of two years 
unless discharged because of a service-connected disability; and 

WHEREAS, Under certain circumstances the mothers, spouses, widows or widowers of deceased 
or totally and permanently disabled veterans may be granted preference eligibility; and 

WHEREAS, Executive Order 12754 established the Southwest Asia Service Medal for those 
members of the United States armed forces who participated in military operations in the Persian 
Gulf or in the contiguous waters or air space on or after August 2, 1990, and before a terminal 
date which has yet to be prescribed by the Secretary of Defense; and 

WHEREAS, Section 2 of that same executive order authorized the medal to be awarded 
posthumously to any person covered by and under the circumstances described above; and 

WHEREAS, Of the 540,000 American uoops who participated in Operations Desert Shield and 
Desert Storm, 106,000 or 19.6% were members of the Guard or reserves; and 

WHEREAS, Of the Guard and reserve members who were deployed to the Persian Gulf, to date a 
total of 7 1 either were killed in action, died as a result of wounds received or died from non- 
hostile causes; and 

WHEREAS, Even though all members of the Guard and reserves who served in the Persian Gulf, 



199 



both living and dead, received the Southwest Asia Service Medal, most do not qualify for veteran 
preference because of the amount of time spent on active duty; now, therefore, be it 

RESOLVED, By The American Legion in National Convention assembled in Chicago. Illinois, 
August 25, 26, 27, 1992, that the American Legion seek legislation that would authorize veteran 
preference for those Guard and reserve members who served during Operation Desert 
Shield/Desert Storm regardless of the amount of time spent on active duty. 



200 

Mr. Mica. Thank you. We have asked most of the questions that 
we wanted to, at least from this side of the aisle this morning. And 
I want to thank both of you for your participation, and for your or- 
ganization's leadership and commitment on behalf of veterans. 

Did you have any final comments, Mr. Drach or Mr. Naschinski? 

Mr. Drach. My only final comment, Mr. Chairman, is to thank 
you again for having these hearings and including us in this proc- 
ess, and as Mr. Naschinski said, the DAV will be more than happy 
to work with you and other members of the committee as we go 
down this road to try to make sure we have a good system. Thank 
you. 

Mr. Mica. Well, again, we thank both of you. We're pleased to 
have the cooperation of the Veterans Committee, Mr. Buyer, Mr. 
Fox and others who have been leaders on some of these issues. 

We, today, held this hearing to seek sort of a status report on 
where we are with veterans preference, and some of the problems 
we've uncovered. We've also explored some of the possible solutions. 

I look forward to working with you and others as we try to keep 
those commitments to our veterans on this very important question 
about veterans preference. 

So we thank you again for your participation. We have some ad- 
ditional statements, requests for statements to be made a part of 
the record and quite a bit of interest in this hearing for additional 
comments. So I'm going to keep the record open for 2 weeks to re- 
ceive additional testimony. Without objection, so ordered. 

There being no further business to come before this subcommit- 
tee, this meeting is adjourned. Thank you. 

[Whereupon, at 11:25 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.] 

[Additional information submitted for the hearing record follows:] 



201 



VETERANS ECONOMIC ACTION COALITION 
20 BAYWOOD LANE 
BAYPORT,NY11705 

(516)472-9597 
FAX (5 16) 472-8 185 



AN OVERVIEW OF VETERANS' PREFERENCE 
VETERANS ECONOMIC ACTION COALITION 

BEFORE 

THE HOUSE OF GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE 

TUESDAY 
APRIL 30, 1996 



202 



Mr. Chairman, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee on Civil 
Service. I thank you for the opportunity to appear here today. My name is Gerard C. 
Kahn and I am Vice president of Veterans Economic Action (VEA). a not for profit 
veterans rights organization. As pleased as VEA is to be accorded the privilege of being 
here today, we are even more delighted merely that a hearing devoted to this issue is 
taking place. 

VEA hopes this will be an event that will mark the beginning of a movement to 
stop the two decades long decline toward de facto and de jure demise of veterans ' 
preference in the United States of America. If all of us who care about veterans approach 
this subject with a clear, non-partisan demand for simple justice and a commitment to 
getting everyone to obey the law, we can begin to reverse of the erosion of veterans ' 
preference in the hiring, promotion, and retention of Federal employees that has occurred 
since 1978. 

VEA is here today to add our voice in some small way to this start of a National 
discussion on veterans' preference, and offer our views on whether the veterans' 
preference laws are being faithfully applied by the bureaucracies of the Federal 
government. We believe that in order to address this important issue a short history of 
the Veterans' Preference Act of 1944 and subsequent Public Laws and Reorganization 
plans that have affected "'veterans ' preference'' is both necessary and helpful. 

BACKGROUND 

The Veterans Preference Act of 1944 as amended is currently found in Title 5 
United States Code §§ 1302, 2108, 3305. 3308-3320. 3351. 3363. 3501-3504. 7512 and 
77011. Before examining the current problems being encountered by preference eligibles 
with respect to the veterans" preference statutes two issues need to be examined. The first 
the legal challenges that arose in the 1970's and the effects of the Civil Service Reform 
Act (Pub.L. 95-454) and the Reorganization Plan Number Two (2) of 19782. 

Through out the 1 970's both Federal and State veterans ' preference statutes were 
contested in Americas courts. Most of the plaintiffs in these cases claimed that veterans 
preference per se violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 
The courts at that time overwhelmingly decided in favor of the veterans' preference 



1 U.S. Code on CD-ROM, Containing the General and Permanent Laws of the United States, in force on 
January 4. 1993 Prepared and published under authority of Title 2, U.S. Code, § 285b by the Office of the 
Law Revision Counsel of the US House of Representatives. Table of Popular Names, Veterans 
Preference Act 

2 43 F.R. 36037, 92 Stat 3783. 



statutes. In 1974 the United States Court of Appeals, for the Fifth Circuit eloquently 
stated3: 

"The statutory objectives are hardly mysterious given the long-standing, widespread 
existence of veterans preference legislationat all levels of government. Indeed, "it is 
apparent to anyone who has lived through a period of war that contrived explanations are 
not necessary.' Au gust v. Bronstien . supra note 4, 369 F. Supp. At 193. Historically 
veterans' preference laws have been directed to three principal objectives: (1) to 
recognize that the experience, discipline, and loyalty that veterans gain in military service 
are conducive to the better performance of public duties; (2) to encourage citizens to 
serve their country in time of war and to reward those who through impressment or 
through enlistment, did so; and, (3) to aid in the rehabilitation and location of the veteran 
whose normal life style has been disrupted by military service. [See alsofti 3] Appellants 
do not really challenge the propriety of any of these objectives, and in any event the 
decisions cited above - as well as the plethora of cases on which they rely ~ amply 
demonstrate that the legitimacy of the governmental interest in veterans ' preference 
legislation is beyond serious judicial dispute." 

Most of the legal challenges ended with the June 5. 1979 Supreme Court Decision 
in The Personnel Administrator of Massachusetts v. Helen B. Feeney 4. The sole 
question for decision in this appeal was did Massachusetts, in granting an absolute 
lifetime preference to veterans, discriminate against women in violation of the Equal 
Protection Clause. The Court held: 

...the statutory history shows that the benefit of the preference was consistently offered to 
"any person" who was a veteran. That benefit has been extended to women under a very 
broad statutory definition of the term veteran. ... When the totality of legislative actions 
establishing and extending the Massachusetts veterans' preference are considered, see 
Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S., at 242, 96 S. Ct., at 2049, the law remains what it 
purports to be: a preference for veterans of either sex over nonveterans of either sex, not 
for men over women. "5 

"... The appellee, however, has simply failed to demonstrate that the law in any way 
reflects a purpose to discriminate on the basis of sex. "6 



3 Jose Rios, et al. v. Dr. Everett G. Gillman . etc., et al, etc., 499 F. 2d 329, 332 (1974). See also Russel v. 
Hfldses, 2Cir. 1972. 470 F. 2d 212. 218: White v. Gates . 102 U.S. App. D.C. 346, 253 F. 2d 868, cert, 
denied, 1958, 356 U.S. 973, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1 147; Fienerman v. Jones , supra note 4, 356 F. Supp at 259; 
Koelfgen v. Jackson, supra note 4, 355 F. Supp. At 253; Stevens v. Campbell, supra note 4, 332 F. Supp. 
At 106. 

4 442 U.S. 256, 99 S. Ct. 2282. 

5 Supra at 279.280, 2296,2297. 

6 Supra at 281, 2297. 



204 



During the 1970's substantial pressure was also brought to bear upon the President 
and the Congress to "Reform" the Civil Service system. This pressure resulted in 
President Carter submitting his Reorganization Plan Number 2 of 19787 to Congress on 
May 23, 1978 (amended on July 11, 1978) and the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) of 
1978. It was the implementation of Reorganization Plan Number 2 of 1978 on January 1 . 
1979 and the CSRA of 1978 on January 12. 1979 that by either commission or omission 
defeated Veterans ' Preference. 

The key to any benefit, right or entitlement is the availability of an effective 
redress mechanism. Prior to January 12, 1979, 5 U.S.C. 1104 provided this mechanism. 
It provided: 

(b) The functions named by subsection (a)(5) of this section do not include functions of 
the commission with respect to - (4) the hearing or providing for the hearing of appeals 
with respect to examination ratings, veterans preference, racial and religious 
discrimination, disciplinary action, performance ratings, and dismissals, and the taking of 
final action on those appeals; 

President Carter's Reorganization Plan Number 1 of 1978 created the Equal 
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and transferred from 5 U.S.C. § 1104 
(b)(4) the hearing of appeals with respect to racial and religious discrimination to EEOC. 
Section 202 of Reorganization Plan Number 2 of 1978 titled "Functions of the Merit 
Systems Protection Board and Related Matters" provided: 

(a) There shall remain with the Board the hearing, adjudication, and appeals fiinctions of 
the United States Civil Service Commission specified in 5 U.S.C. 1104(b)(4) (except 
hearings, adjudications and appeals with respect to examination ratings), and also found 
in the following statutes: (I) 5 U.S.C. 1504-1507, 7325, 5335. 7521, 7701 and 8347(d) 
(ii) 38 U.S.C. 2023. 

Therefore, the Reorganization plans transferred or dropped the hearing or 
providing for the hearing of appeals for racial and religious discrimination and for 
examination ratings. This would seem to indicate that section 202 transferred to the 
Board the hearing or providing for the hearing of appeals with respect to veterans 
preference, disciplinary action, performance ratings and dismissals on January 1, 1979. 

The CSRA added a new Chapter 12 to Title 5 U.S.C. and defined the "Powers 
and Functions of the Merit System Protection Board and Special Counsel" in § 12058. It 

provides: 



7 See 5 U.S.C. § 1 101 Historical and Statutory Notes. 

8 Now 5 U.S.C. § 1204. The Powers and functions of the Office Special Councsel were transferred to 5 



205 



(a) The Merit Systems Protection Board shall - (1) hear, adjudicate, or provide for the 
hearing or adjudication, of all matters within the jurisdiction of the Board under this title 
[Reorganization Plan Number 2 is under this title], section 2023 of title 38, or any 
law, rule or regulation, and, subject to otherwise applicable provisions of law. take final 
action on any such matter." 

Section 904 of the CSRA Provides: 

"Except as otherwise expressly provided in this act, no provision of this act shall be 
construed to - (1) limit, curtail, abolish, or terminate any function of, or authority 
available to, the President which the President had immediately before the effective date 
of this act; or (2) limit, curtail, or terminate the President's authority to delegate, 
redelegate, or terminate any delegation of function." 

To date we have been unable to find any expressed provision in the CSRA 
eliminating the Boards fiinction of hearing of appeals or providing for the hearing of 
appeals with respect to veterans' preference. In fact the only historical notes found 
relating to 5 U.S.C. 1 104(b)(4) are: 

"In subsection (b)(4), the words 'as is now authorized to be taken by the commission' 
are omitted as surplusage." And "Standard changes are made to conform with the 
definitions applicable and the style of this title as outlined in the preface to the report.9 

Further, our research has provided no reason to believe that any part of Section 
202(a) of the Reorganization Plan Number 2 of 1 978 is in any way inconsistent with any 
provision of the CSRA. However, the fact remains that since 1 979 a preference eligible 
applying for a position with the federal government has no appeal right as a preference 
eligible if denied a right expressed in the Veterans Preference Statutes. The Merit 
System Protection Board (MSPB) has held they have no jurisdiction to hear the appeals 
for the last seventeen plus years (since January 1, 1979). 

Applicants for Federal positions who believe they have been discriminated against 
based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or age may file a 
complaint that is investigated and at the request of the complainant a hearing is held 
before an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Commission's Administrative Law 
Judge and can then file a civil action. If you put yourself in the position of a Federal 
Manager having to make a choice between ignoring veterans preference in hiring which 
carries little or no risk or not hiring an applicant who is covered under any part of the 



U.S.C. § 1212. 

9 Historical notes, "amendments" 5 U.S.C. § 1 104, U.S. Code on CD-ROM. 



206 



EEO statutes who has a right of appeal that could impact or even end your career, who 
would ^^Gif choose to ignore? 

It is not important how the hearing or providing for the hearing of appeals with 
respect to veterans preference disappeared, it is only important that it did. It is believed 
that this mysterious disappearance of a hearing right for preference eligibles is largely 
responsible for the decline of preference eligibles in the Competitive service which 
dropped from 1,350,00 in 1977 to the 560,028 in 1994. 

VETERANS PREFERENCE IN ACTION 

This section will address " Veterans ' Preference Statutes" and how they are used, 
evaded or ignored as a matter of conveiuence by Federal Bureaucracies. The bedrock 
upon which veterans preference is built rests upon 5 U.S.C. § 3309. A preference eligible 
who receives a passing grade in an examination is awarded either 5 or 1 points to their 
score to determine their ranking upon a register of eligibles. The General Accounting 
Office (GAO) found 10: 

"For nearly all of the applications GAO reviewed, the veterans' preference points due 
applicants matched the points given them on hiring certificates prepared by 0PM or other 
executive agencies. Also, veterans were correctly ranked on the certificates. 

Many bureaucrats believe that the simple act of awarding the proper points to 
scores and ranking them upon a certificate is all that is required to comply with veterans ' 
preference. Once the applicants are ranked and placed upon a certificate they then need 
to be used by an agency if veterans preference is to mean anything. The following 
statutes all rely on the use of certificates to be of any value at all: 5 U.S.C. §§ 3313, 
3314. 3315. 3316, 3317, 3318, and 3320. However, in 1992 the GAO found 1 1 : 

These 648 certificates included instances of both nonveterans and veterans who were top- 
ranked candidates. However, a greater percentage of certificates were returned unused 
when a veteran appeared at the top (71 percent) than when a nonveteran did (51 percent). 

The return of unused certificates is not a new phenomena. A 1977 report 
found 12: 



10 Federal Hiring Does Veterans Preference Need Updating'' GAO/GGD-92-52, March 1992, pg. 2, H 2. 

1 1 Supra at pg. 4^4. 

12 Conflicting Congressional Policies: Veterans' Preference and Apportionment v. Equal Employment 
Opportunity. FPCD-77-61; B-167015. September 29, 1977, Report to Congress; by Robert Keller, Acting 
Controller General. (Now GAO) pg. 20. 



207 



Agencies informed us that they sometimes use questionable procedures to obtain women 

who cannot be reached on CSC registers. These include: 

--writing job descriptions to fit the qualifications of particular applicants. 

-Listing jobs with CSC as "interminent" employment to discourage veteran applications. 

-Requesting and returning certificates \mused until veterans who are blocking the 

register have been hired by another agency or for other reasons are no longer blocking the 

register 

Finally, GAO in the March 1992 report foundl3: 

While OPM requires agencies to provide explanations when returning certificates 
unused, it generally does not enforce this requirement. Even when reasons are provided, 
OPM does not maintain an analyze the information (e.g., do trend analyses) to determine 
whether the probability that veteran bias exists or whether its certification system is 
unable to identify candidates with the right mix of qualification and experience." 

As long as agencies are allowed to return certificates unused or use special hiring 
authorities veterans preference will be denied. In a case that has been before the general 
public for quite some time, John Minnick, who was on a certificate that was sent to an 
agency was decertified at the request of the agency by OPM and was later found to be 
qualified. He's still unemployed. 

5 U.S.C. § 3310 restricts competition for custodial positions to preference 
eligibles as long as they aie available. Frank Santamaria, a preference eligible who 
served during the Korean War applied for a position as a custodial laborer at a United 
States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in New York. He was hired 
as a temporary employee twice but each time was denied a permanent position because 
the VA had restricted those positions to those preference eligibles who were VRA14 
eligible even though the black letter law states, "restricted to preference eligibles as long 
as preference eligibles are available." Frank was never made aware that a permanent 
position existed and was never even considered because he was not VRA eligible. 

Steven Cytryszewski, a 70% disabled veteran had been out of work for many years 
and under the care of a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist for Post Traumatic Stress 
Disorder. He began to make progress with his treatment and was informed by his 
Psychologist that they now believed he could proceed with his life and seek employment. 
Steve applied for a custodial position with the United States Postal Service. 



13 Seefh lOpg. 34. 

14 See 38 U.S.C. §4214. 



208 



Without being informed or being provided the opportunity' to respond he was 
passed over three time and removed from the list. An EEO complaint was initiated and 
during the final interview we were told that he was passed over and removed from the 
list. An appeal was then filed with the MSPB and was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. 

In a similar case in the competitive service in 198415 the Federal Circuit found 
jurisdiction as an employment practice administered by OPM (See 5 CFR § 1201.3(19)). 
Steve's appeal cited 39 U.S.C. 1005(a)(2) which states: 

The provisions of title 5 relating to a preference eligible (as that term is defined under 
section 2108(3) of such title) shall apply to an applicant for appointment and any officer 
or employee of the Postal Service in the same manner and under the same conditions as if 
the applicant, officer, or employee were subject to the competitive service under such 
title. ..." 

Mr. Cytreszewski appealed the initial decision to the Board in Washington, D.C. 
and was denied and filed for Judicial review with the United States Court of Appeals for 
the Federal Circuit and lost. When the Attorney representing Mr. Cytreszewski and I 
were leaving the Court house the Attorney representing the Board walked over and said, 
"The law was on your side but the case law was against you." The case cited by the 
Board and relied upon by the Court had no bearing whatsoever on Mr. Cytrezewski's 
case. As an addendum to our testimony we have attached an overview of veterans 
preference statutes please review 5 U.S.C. 3320. 



REDUCTIONS IN FORCE 

The biggest issue being faced by preference eligibles in Federal service is the 
downsizing of the Federal government. Whether an agency calls it downsizing or 
restructuring a Reduction-In- Force by any other name is still a Reduction-In-Force. 

The best known example of the any other name syndrome occurred when the 
United States Postal Service conducted a "restructuring" and informed preference 
eligibles that they would not receive any "entitlements" and would be treated as any other 
employee. In a declaration made by Joseph J. Mahon, Jr., Vice President, Labor 
Relations offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) as evidence in MSPB 
appeals it states: 

(4) To fiilfill the Postmaster's pledge to change the way the Postal Service does business 
and to reduce the layers and size of middle management, the Postal Service sought advice 



15 See Lackhouse v. Merit Sv-i tems Protection Board 7^4 F 7ri 1471 (1984) and 773 F. 2d 313 (1985). 



209 



of the Office of Personnel Management and consulted with Postal Unions, management 
organizations, and customers. 

(5) The consensus which emerged from these contacts was that a reduction in force (RIF) 
should be used only as a last resort and that alternatives should be pursued. A RIF was 
seen as too disruptive to operations and the Postal Service's ability to provide consistent, 
reliable mail service to the American public; to complicated, expensive, and time- 
consuming, too likely to have an adverse effect on minorities and women in the 
workforce; [emphasis added] and too likely to produce harsh, arbitrary results in 
individual cases. 

(6)... whereas running a RIF would have resulted in laying off more recently hired 
workers, whose families would be devastated." 

These sentiments sound quite reasonable and caring, however, the USPS is in the 
excepted service and the only individuals who could appeal the agency actions would 
have been preference eligibles as a result of 39 USC § 1005(a)(2). Further, 42 U.S.C. 
2000e-ll provides: 

"Nothing contained in this subchapter shall be construed to repeal or modify any Federal, 
State, territorial, or local law creating special rights or preferences for veterans." 

It would appear then that at least part of the USPS's decision was based upon an 
improper motive and in fact granted an imwarranted preference to minorities, women and 
the recently hired at the expense of preference eligibles. 

Following the same line of thought in a 1990 GAO report 16 fomid that: 

"On May 11, 1990, the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Force Management and 
Personnel, required the military services to perform an impact analysis before a RIF to 
assess and guard against any disproportionate impact on EEO groups. 

As far as we know this policy started in 1990 is still in effect today and is 
effecting the way that RIF's are suppose to be conducted. A case in point is the 
Department of the Army's, Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, NY. This facility was 
required to conduct an EEO impact analysis prior to submitting it's RIF plan for it's 
February 2, 1995, RIF. 

It was also interesting to find out that as on September 19, 1993, the Arsenal was 
given authority to proceed with temporary promotions, reassignment actions, changes to 
lower grades and details. It now appears that many of these personnel action helped to 
insulate chosen individuals from the effects of the RIF. 



16 Defense Force Management The 1990 Reduction-In-Force at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, 
GAO/NSIAD-9 1-306, August 1991, pg 4. 



210 



This process seems to be repeating itself at the Defense Logistics Agency in 
Garden City, Long Island, NY. We were contacted by a preference eligible assigned to 
this facility. He brought to our attention that it appeared that many nonpreference eligible 
employees had been promoted, reassigned and or put into positions that would not be 
effected in the upcoming RJF. 

As agencies begin to fashion how the will conduct RIF's. and use computer 
programs (RIP Whiz and others) to manipulate and target different individuals and/or 
groups it will become increasingly important that the Legislative Branch makes clear 
there intent. It is generally a bad idea to micro manage. However, for the last seventeen 
(plus) years the Federal bureaucracies have amply demonstrated in that if they are given 
any room to manipulate a veterans preference statute, they will. 

CONCLUSION 



For nine years I worked for New York State Department of Labor as a Labor 
Service Representative (DVOP).17 During my tenure I received hundreds of complaints 
from preference eligibles who had been denied their rights as applicants to or employees 
of Federal agencies. The problem's stem from bureaucracies that often believe they are 
answerable to no one. 

Bureaucracies have frustrated members of both political parties in both the 
Legislative and Executive Branches. The problems facing Veterans and Veterans' 
Preference statutes have been going on since the 1970's and can resolved with the 
assistance of both parties and the Legislative and Executive Branch. 

I have attached a Ten-Point Program on Veterans' Preference that could be 
accomplished this year if the Executive branch and the Congress work together in good 
faith to restore to veterans the right to preference in Federal employ that had already been 
granted some fifty years ago. 1 urge all concerned to get about accomplishing the 
mission. 

VEA, and I personally, believe that this is a question that is central not only to 
veterans who may wish to seek or retain Federal employment, but rather it is a question 
of whether the elected representatives of the people can force the "permanent" 
bureaucracies to obey the laws. I would suggest that this is a question that strikes to heart 
of the question of our future as a democracy. 



17 See38U.S.C. §4I03A 



211 



Mr. Chairman, that concludes my remarks. I would be pleased to answer any 
questions you or your distinguished colleagues may have. Again, I thank you for the 
opportunity to appear here today. 



212 



Veterans Economic Action Coalition 

Addendum 1 
Possible solutions for saving veterans' preference 

1. Keep the "Rule of Three." 

2. Eliminate ALL "Special Hiring Authorities." These are now used 
primarily to circumvent veterans and disabled veterans on the lists. 

3. Require each Federal agency or entity, and all Federal contractors, to list 
ALL job openings with the automated job bank of the state employment 
security agencies in such a way that the job will come up as a "match" when 
the DVOP, LVER, or other staff person does the automated "veterans' file 
search" that matches veterans with jobs for which they meet the minimum 
qualifications. 

4. Require Federal agencies to allow any veterans' preference eligible to 
compete for any job for which he/she meets the minimum qualifications 
other than already being "inside" the agency. (This is the only way for 
veterans to begin to "catch up," given the discriminatory pattern of the last 
twenty years.) 

5. Individual veterans need to have adequate notice of and access to a clear, 
independent, and "user friendly" redress mechanisms that can be utilized 
when a veteran believes that he or she has been denied a right under the 
"veteran preference statutes" in either the competitive or excepted service. 

6. Federal managers, officials and employees should be subject to being 
fired, demoted or otherwise disciplined if they fail to adhere to and enforce 
veterans' preference or if they allow policies to develop that establish a 
pattern or pracfice of discrimination against veterans, especially disabled 
veterans, in the hiring, promotion, retention or appeals of such rights. 



213 



7. Require that all Federal Departments, Agencies or other entities in either 
the competitive service or the excepted service must be certified each year 
as being in compliance with all '"veterans preference'' statutes. The 
reporting mechanism already established under 38 U.S.C. 4214 would be 
used and expanded to include the total number of veterans hired, the hiring 
authority used by the agency to hire the veteran, and the grade and positions 
that the veterans were hired for. Failure to comply with these requirements 
would result in the impoundment of funding for the agency until they 
complied with these requirements, or began making satisfactory progress on 
a suitable corrective action plan, and until the official(s) responsible for the 
failure to comply are relieved or otherwise appropriately disciplined. 

8. Veterans who believe that their rights under the "veterans 
preference" statutes are violated would have the right to sue the agency 
and the responsible ofricial(s). If it is determined that the responsible 
official(s) acted, or allowed others to act, with disregard for the 
'"''veterans preference^'' statutes, the responsible ofricial(s) would lose the 
privilege of ^sovereign immunity*^ and could be sued as an individual 
for damages. 

9. Require that the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) begin to act 
immediately in such a way as to enforce all veterans' preference laws, and 
to publish all decisions that have bearing on veterans' preference in such a 
way that veterans and veterans' advocates can have access to such 
decisions, and all internal papers and memoranda, without cost. 

10. Take legislative action that would prevent Federal agencies and entities 
from establishing narrow "bands" for purposes of a Reduction-In- 
Force(RIF) that would require each Federal entity to take such steps as 
would reduce the impact of any RIF on veterans' preference eligibles 
(particularly disabled veterans), and that would forbid any Federal entity to 
take any action in the two years preceding a RIF or during a RIF that takes 
any other demographic factor into account. 



214 



VETERANS ECONOMIC ACTION COALITION 
20 BAYWOOD LANE 
BAYPORT, NY 11705 

(516) 472-9697 
FAX (516) 472-8185 



AN OVERVIEW OF VETERANS' PREFERENCE 

ADDENDUM (II) TO THE TESTIMONY 

OF THE 

VETERANS ECONOMIC ACTION COALITION 

BEFORE 

THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND OVERSIGHT 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE 



TUESDAY 
APRIL 30, 1996 



(iKa. 4^ 



215 

2 
INTRODUCTION 



The information provided in this file should not be construed as legal advice. 
It's only purpose is to provide an overview of the statutes that stem from the Veterans 
Preference Act of 1944 as amended. The veterans' community would be far better 
served if the term "Veterans' Preference" were dropped from the collective vocabulary 
and replaced with the term veterans' preference statutes. 

It has been our experience that when veterans preference is discussed it is 
usually referred to in very general and or nebulous terms. It has also been our 
experience that very few veterans (a.k.a. preference eligibles) actually know how it 
works, who eligible or what if anything can be done if they are denied a benefit under 
the veterans preference stamtes. 

This should come as no surprise considering the Byzantine process that defines 
it. The process starts with a Public Law (PL) which is then codified into the United 
States Code (U.S.C), interpreted by the Office of Personnel Management (0PM) into 
regulations and further interpreted in the Federal Persoimel Manual (FPM) and 
finally (?) individual agencies interpreted the FPM into their own procedural manuals. 
When a question arises concerning the interpretation of these laws, rules and 
regulations the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) an Administrative Law agency 
or 0PM makes a determination. If that determination is still in question the issue is 
appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and then perhaps 
to the United States Supreme Court. This process is continually repeating itself as the 
three branches of government attempt to define, manipulate or interpret "Veterans' 
Preference Stamtes." 

As Veterans Preference becomes more of an issue with both Federal legislative 
and administrative bodies it is imperative that those who represent the interests of the 
veterans community know exactly what veterans preference is and how it's suppose to 
work. To attempt to debate the issue without understanding the issue is like being 
invited to a gunfight and bringing a knife; your going to lose every time. 



VETERANS PREFERENCE A STATUTORY OVERVIEW 

According to the January 4, 1993, edition of the U.S. Code on CD-ROM the 
Veterans Preference Act of 1944 as amended can be found in the following sections of 
law: 



216 



5 use §§ 1302. 2108, 3305, 3306, 3308-3320. 3351. 3363, 3364, 3501-3504, 7512 
and 7701. 



217 



The purpose here is not to enter into a discussion on how administrative bodies 
and the courts have interpreted the law but to paraphrase where possible each section of 
law. Remember the law is continually changing and that these laws were in force on 
January 4, 1993, and may have changed since that date. 



RULES 

5 use § 1302 (a) gives 0PM the responsibility and authority subject to the 
rules prescribed by the President under this title [title 5 U.S.C.] for the administration 
of the competitive service. Further, 0PM shall prescribe regulations to control, 
supervise, and preserve the records of, examinations for the competitive service; (b) 
gives 0PM the authority and responsibility to prescribe and enforce regulations for the 
administration of the provisions of this title, and Executive orders issued in furtherance 
thereof, that implement the Congressional policy that preference shall be given to 
preference eligibles in cenification for appointment, and in appointment, reinstatement, 
reemployment, and retention, in the competitive service in Executive agencies, 
permanent or temporary, and in the government of the District of Columbia; ® 0PM 
shall also prescribe regulations for the administration of the provisions of this title that 
implement the Congressional policy that preference shall be given to preference 
eligibles in cenification for appointment, and in appointment, reinstatement, 
reemployment and retention, in the exempted service in Executive agencies, permanent 
or temporary, and in the government of the District of Columbia; and (d) may 
prescribe reasonable procedures and regulations for the administration of its functions 
under chapter 15 (Political Activities of Certain State and Local Employees) of this 
title. 

Boiled down to it's salient points 5 USC § 1302 provides 0PM with the 
authority and responsibility to prescribe regulations for control, supervise, and preserve 
the records of, examinations for the competitive service; shall prescribe and enforce 
regulations that implement the Congressional policy that veterans preference shall be 
given to preference eligibles in certification for appointment, and in appointment, 
reinstatement, reemployment and retention, in the Competitive Service ; and .shall 
prescribe regulations for the administration of the Congressional policy that preference 
shall be given to preference eligibles in certification for appointment, and in 
appointment, reinstatement, reemployment, and retention in the Exempted Service in 
Executive agencies. 

Therefore, 0PM has the authority and responsibility to prescribe regulations, in 
both the Competitive and the Excepted Service to carry out the Congressional policy 
and executive orders. Further, in the Competitive service 0PM has the responsibility 
to enforce Congressional policy and Executive orders issued in fiirtherance thereof 
found in 5 USC §§ 2108, 3305,3306, 3308-3320, 3351, 3363, 3364 and 3501-3504. 



218 

VETERAN; DISABLED VETERAN; PREFERENCE EUGBLE 

5 use § 2108 is relatively straight forward. It codifies who is a preference 
eligible and entitled by virtue of either their military service or the service of a spouse, 
son or daughter to the bounties of the Veterans Preference Act of 1944 as amended and 
codified in title 5 USC. Generally speaking preference eligibility is established by 
service on active duty in the armed forces during a war, campaign or expedition for 
which a campaign badge has been issued; or service between 1952 and July 1, 1955: or 
service on active duty for more than 180 consecutive days any part of which occurred 
after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; and by service on active duty in 
the armed forces, and separation therefrom under honorable conditions, and has 
established the present existence of a services connected disability or is receiving 
compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension under a public stamte 
administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

COMPETITIVE SERVICE; EXAMINATIONS, WHEN HELD 

5 USC § 3305 in effect requires OPM to hold examinations for the competitive 
service at least twice a year in each State, territory or possession where there are 
individuals to be examined. OPM shall also hold an examination for a position to 
which an appointment has been made within the preceding 3 years on the application of 
an individual who qualifies as a preference eligible under 5 USC § 2108 (3)(c)-(g). 
The examination shall be held during the quaner following the application. 

5 USC § 3306 was repealed by Public Law 95-228§ 1, February 10, 1978, 92 
Stat. 25. 



COMPETITIVE SERVICE; EXAMINATIONS; 
EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS PROHIBITED; EXCEPTIONS 

5 USC § 3308 prohibits OPM or other examining agency may not prescribe a 
minimum educational requirement for an examination for the competitive service 
except when the Office decides that the duties of a scientific, technical, or professional 
position cannot be performed by an individual who does not have the proscribed 
minimum education. The Office shall make the reasons for it's decision under this 
section a part of it's public records. 



PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES; EXAMINATIONS; ADDITIONAL POINTS 

5 USC § 3309 requires a preference eligible who receives a passing grade in an 
examination for entrance into the competitive service is entitled to 10 additional points 



219 



above the earned rating if they are a preference eligible as defined by 5 USC § 
2108(3)(c)-(g) and 5 additional points if they are a preference eligible as defined by 5 
USC § 2108(3)(A). 



PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES; 
GUARDS, ELEVATOR OPERATORS, MESSENGERS, AND CUSTODIANS 

5 USC § 3310 provides that in examination for positions for guards, elevator 
operators, messengers, and custodians (as these terms are defined by FPM subchapter 4 
sec 4-5) competition is restricted to preference eligibles as long as preference eligibles 
are available. 



PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES, EXAMINATIONS; CREDITING EXPERIENCE 

5 USC § 3311 provides that in examination for the competitive service in which 
experience is an element of qualification, a preference eligible is entitled to credit for 
service in the Armed Forces when his employment in a similar vocation to that which 
examined was interrupted by the service; and for all experience material to the position 
for which examined, including experience gained in religious, civic, welfare, service 
and organizational activities regardless of whether he received pay therefor. 



PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES; PHYSICAL QUALIFICATION; WAIVER 

5 USC § 3312 requires 0PM or other examining agency when determining 
qualifications for appointment in or reinstatement in the competitive service shall waive 
requirements to age, height, and weight unless the requirements are essential to the 
performance of the duties of the position; and if an examining agency determines that, 
on the basis of evidence before it that a preference eligible under 5 USC § 2108(3)(c) 
who has a service-connected disability of 30 or more is not able to fulfill the physical 
requirements of the position, the examining agency shall notify the Office of the 
determination and, at the same time notify the preference eligible of the reasons for the 
determination and of the right to respond, within 15 days of the date of notification, to 
the Office. The Office shall require a demonstration by the appointing authority that 
the notification was timely sent to the preference eligible's last known address and 
shall, before the selection of any other person for the position, make a final 
determination on the physical ability of the preference eligible taking into account any 
additional information provided in any such response. Upon completion of the review 
by the Office it shall send it's findings to the appointing authority and the preference 
eligible. The appointing authority shall comply with the findings of the Office. The 
functions of the Office under this subsection may not be delegated. 



COMPETITIVE SERVICE; REGISTER OF ELIGIBLES 



220 
7 



5 use § 3313 provides that the names of applicants who have qualified in 
examinations for the competitive service shall be entered on appropriate registers or 
lists of eligibles for scientific and professional positions GS-9 or higher, in the order of 
their ratings, including points added under section 5 USC § 3309; for all other 
positions disabled veterans who have a compensable service connected disability of 10 
percent or more, are listed in order of their ratings, including points added under 5 
USC § 3309; and all remaining applicants in order of their rating including points 
added under 5 USC § 3309. The names of preference eligibles shall be entered ahead 
of others having the same rating. 



REGISTERS; PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES WHO RESIGN 

5 USC § 3314 provides that a preference eligible who resigns at the request of 
0PM is entitled upon request to 0PM to have their name placed again on all registers 
for which they may be qualified for in the order proscribed by 5 USC § 3313. 



REGISTERS; PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES FURLOUGHED OR SEPARATED 

5 U.S.C. § 3315 provides that a preference eligible who has been separated or 
furloughed without delinquency or misconduct, on request, is entitled to have their 
name placed on appropriate registers and employment lists for every position they have 
established qualifications for in the order named by 5 U.S.C. § 3313; and OPM may 
declare a preference eligible who is separated or furloughed without pay under 5 
U.S.C. § 7512 to be entitled to the benefits to subsection (a). 



PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES; REINSTATEMENT 

5 U.S.C. § 3316 provides that on the request of an appointing authority, a preference 
eligible who has resigned, dismissed or furloughed may be certified for and appointed 
to a position for which they are eligible in the competitive service, and Executive 
agency or the government of the District of Columbia. 



COMPETITIVE SERVICE; CERTIFICATION FROM REGISTERS 

5 use. § 3317 provides OPM shall certify enough names from the top of the 
appropriate register to permit a nominating or appointing authority who has requested a 
certificate of eligibles to consider three names for appointment to each vacancy in the 
Competitive service; when an appointing authority, for reasons considered sufficient by 
OPM, has three times considered and passed over a preference eligible who was 



221 



certified from a register, certification of the preference eligible from appointment may 
be discontinued. However, the preference eligible is entitled to advance notice. 



COMPETITIVE SERVICE; SELECTION FROM CERTIHCATES 

Under 5 U.S. C. § 3318 the nominating or appointing authority shall select for 
appointment to each vacancy from the highest three eligibles available for appointment 
on the certificate furnished under 5 U.S.C. § 3317(a) unless objection to one or more 
of individuals certified is made and sustained by OPM for proper and adequate reason 
under the proscribed regulations : If an appointing authority proposes to pass over a 
preference eligible in order to select an individual who is not a preference eligible, 
such authority shall file written reasons with OPM. OPM shall make the reason part of 
the record of the preference eligible and may require the submission of more detailed 
information from the appointing authority to support the pass over of the preference 
eligible. OPM shall determine the sufficiency or insufficiency of the reasons submitted 
by the appointing authority and any response from the preference eligible. When OPM 
completes it's review it shall send it's findings to the appointing authority and the 
preference eligible. The appointing authority shall comply with the findings; In the 
case of a preference eligible described in 5 U.S.C. § 2108(3) who has a disability of 30 
percent or more, the appointing authority shall at the same time it notifies OPM it shall 
notify the preference eligible of the proposed passover, the reasons thereof, and inform 
them of their right to respond to OPM within 15 days of the date of such notification. 
OPM shall require a demonstration by the appointing authority that the passover 
notification was timely sent to the last known address of the preference eligible prior to 
completing it's review; a preference eligible who is not 30 percent or more disabled, or 
their representative, shall be entitled on request to a copy of the reasons submitted by 
the appointing authority in support of the proposed passover and the findings of OPM; 
In the case of a preference eligible with a thirtv percent or more disability the function 
of OPM may not he delegated : and when three or more names of preference eligibles 
are on a reemployment list appropriate for the position a nominating or appointing 
authority may appoint from a register of eligibles established after examination only a 
qualified preference eligible under 5 U.S.C. § 2108(c)-(g). 

5 U.S.C. § 3319 has been repealed by Pub. L 95-454, Title III, § 307(h)(1), 
Oct. 13, 1978, 92 Stat. 1149. 



EXCEPTED SERVICE; 

GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA; 

SELECTION 



5 U.S.C. § 33201 requires that nominating or appointing authority shall select 
for appointment to each vacancy in the excepted service in the executive branch and in 
the government of the District of Columbia from qualified applicants in the same 
manner and under the same conditions required for the competitive service by 5 U.S.C. 
§§ 3308-3320. This section does not apply to an appointment required by Congress to 
be confirmed by, or made with the advice and consent of, the Senate. 



PREFERENCE ELlGIBLES; TRANSFER; PHYSICAL QUALIFICATION; WAIVER 
5 U.S.C. § 3351 provides that in determining the qualifications of a preference 
eligible for transfer to another position in the competitive service, an executive agency, 
or the government of the District of Columbia, 0PM or other examining agency shall 
waive the requirements to age, height and weight unless the requirements are a bona 
fide occupational qualification; and shall waive physical requirements if, in the opinion 
of 0PM or other examining authority, after considering the recommendation of an 
accredited physician, the preference eligible is physically able to perform efficiently the 
duties of the position. This section shall not apply to an appointment required by 
Congress to be confirmed by, or with the advice and consent of the Senate. 

PREFERENCE ELlGIBLES; PROMOTION; PHYSICAL QUALIHCATION; 
WAIVER 

The provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 3363 mirror the provisions of 5 U.S.C. § 3351 
except that it addresses the promotion of preference eligibles while 5 U.S.C. § 3351 
addresses the transfer of preference eligibles. 



RETENTION PREFERENCES, RESTORATION, AND REEMPLOYMENT 

DEFINITIONS; APPLICATION 

5 U.S.C. § 3501 provides the definitions for the application of this subchapter, 
except § 3504. (a)(1) Active Service means service on active duty; (2) "a retired 
member of uniformed service" means a member or former member of a uniformed 
service who is entitled under statute, to retired, retirement, or retainer pay on account 
of their service as such a member; (3) a preference eligible employee who is a retired 
member of a uniformed service is considered a preference eligible only if (A) his 
retirement is based upon disability (I) resulting from injury or disease received in the 
line of duty as a direct result of armed conflict; or (ii) caused by an instrumentality of 
war and incurred in the line of duty during a period of war (WWII 12/7/41- 
12/31/1946, Korean Conflict 6/27/1950-1/31/1955, Vietnam Era 8/5/64-5/7/75, 



I See 39 use. § 1005 



10 



Persian Gulf 8/2/1990 to a time yet to be determined); (B) Service does not include 
twenty or more years of full time active service, regardless of when performed but not 
including period of active duty for training; or ® on November 30, 1964, he was 
employed in a position to which this subchapter applies and thereafter continued to be 
employed without a break in service for more than 30 days, (b) Except as otherwise 
provided by this subsection and section 3502 of this title, this subchapter applies to 
each employee in or under an Executive agency. This subchapter does not apply to an 
employee whose appointment is required by Congress to be confirmed by or with the 
advice and consent of, the Senate or to be a member of the Senior Executive Service 
(SES) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration 
Senior Executive Service. 



ORDER OF RETENTION 

5 U.S.C. § 3502(a) mandates that 0PM prescribe regulations for the releasing 
of competing employees in a RIF giving due effect to (1) tenure of employment; (2) 
military preference, subject to section 3501; (3) length of service; and (4) efficiency of 
service. In computing length of service, a competing employee (A) who is not a retired 
member of uniform service is entitled to credit for the total length of time in active 
service in the armed forces; (B) who is a retired member of a uniformed service is 
entitled to credit for (I) the time in active service in the armed forces during a war, or 
in a campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized; or (ii) 
the total length of time in active service in the armed forces if included under section 
3501(a)(3)(A), (B), or ® of this title: and ® is entitled to credit for (I) service rendered 
as an employee of a county committee established pursuant to section 8(b) of the Soil 
Conservation and Allotment Act or of a committee or association of producers 
described in section 10(b) of the Agriculture Adjustment Act; and (ii) service rendered 
as an employee described in section 2105® if such employee moves or has moved, on 
or after January 1, 1987, without a break in service of more than 3 days, from a 
position in a nonappropriated fund instrumentality of the Department of Defense or the 
Coast Guard to a position in the Department of Defense or Coast guard, respectively, 
that is not described in section 2105(c). 

(b) A preference eligible described in section 2108(3)(C) of this title who has a 
compensable service connected disability of 30% or more and who's performance has 
not been rated unacceptable under a performance appraisal system under chapter 43 of 
this title is entitled to be retained in preference to other preference eligibles. 

® An Employee entitled to retention preference and whose performance has not 
been rated unacceptable under a performance rating implemented under chapter 43 of 
this title is entitled to be retained in preference to other competing employees. 

(d)(1) Except as provided under subsection (e), an employee may not be 
released, due to reduction in force unless - 

(A) Such employee and such employee's exclusive representative for collective 
bargaining purposes (if any) are given written notice, in conformance with the 



11 



requirements of paragraph (2), at least 60 days before such employee is so released; 
and 

(B) if the RIF would involve the separation of a significant number of 
employees, the requirements of paragraph (3) are met at least 60 days before any 
employee is so released. 

(2) Any notice under paragraph (1)(A) shall include - 

(A) the personnel action to be taken with respect to the employees involved; 

(B) the effective date of the action; 

® a description of the procedures applicable in identifying employees for 
release; 

(D) the employees ranking relative to other competing employees, and how the 
ranking was determined; and 

(E) a description of any appeal or other rights which may be available 

(3) Notice under paragraph (1)(B) - 

(A) shall be given to - 

(I) the appropriate State dislocated worker unit or units (referred to in section 
311(b)(2) of the Job Training Partnership Act); and 

(ii) the chief elected official of such unit or each of such units of local 
government as may be appropriate; and 

(B) shall consist of written notification as to - 

(1) the nimiber of employees to be separated from service due to RIF (broken 
down by geographic area or on such basis as may be required under paragraph (4); 

(ii) when these separations will occur; and 

(iii) any other maner which might facilitate the delivery of rapid response 
assistance or other services under the Job Training Partnership Act. 

(4) The Office (0PM) shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to 
carry out this subsection. The Office shall consult with the Secretary of Labor on 
maners relating to the Job Training Partnership Act. 

(e)(1) Subject to paragraph (3), upon request submitted under paragraph (2), the 
President may, in writing, shorten the period of advanced notice required under 
subsection (d)(1)(A) and (B), with respect to a particular RIF, if necessary because of 
circumstances not reasonably foreseeable. 

(2) A request to shorten notice periods shall be submitted to the President by the 
head of the agency involved, and shall indicate the RIF to which the request pertains, 
the number of days by which the agency head requests that the periods be shortened, 
and the reasons why the request is necessary. 

(3) No notice period may be shortened to less than 30 days under this 
subsection. 



TRANSFER OF FUNCTION 

5 U.S.C. § 3503 provides for: (a) When a fiinction is transferred from one 
agency to another, each competing employee in the function shall be transferred to the 



12 



receiving agency for employment in a position for which he is qualified before the 
receiving agency may make an appointment from another source to that position. 

(b) When one agency is replaced by another, each competing employee in the 
agency to be replaced shall be transferred to the replacing agency for employment in a 
position for vi'hich he is qualified before the replacing agency may make an 
appointment fi-om another source to that position. 

PREFERENCE ELIGIBLES; RETENTION; 
PHYSICAL QUAUFICATIONS; WAIVER 

5 U.S.C. § 3504 provides: (a) In determining qualifications of a preference 
eligible for retention in a position in the competitive service, an Executive agency, or 
the government of the District of Columbia, the 0PM or other examining agency shall 
waive - 

(1) requirements to age, height, and weight, unless the requirement is essential 
to the performance of the duties of the position; and 

(2) physical requirements if. in the opinion of OPM or other examining agency, 
after considering the recommendations of an accredited physician, the preference 
eligible is physically able to perform efficiently the duties of the position . 

(b) If an examining agency determines that, on the basis of evidence before it. a 
preference eligible described in section 2108(3)(C) of this title who has a compensable 
service-connected disability of 30 percent or more is not able to fulfill the physical 
requirements of the position, the examining agency shall notify OPM of the 
determination and. at the same time, the examining agency shall notify the preference 
eligible of the reasons for determination and of the right to respond, within 15 days of 
the date of the notification, to OPM. OPM shall require a demonstration by the 
appointing authority that the notification was timely sent to the preference eligible 's last 
known address and shall, before the selection of any other person for the position, 
make a final determination on the physical ability of the preference eligible to perform 
the duties of the position, taking into account any additional information provided in 
the response. When OPM has completed it's review of proposed disqualification on 
the basis of physical disability, it shall send it's findings to the appointing authority and 
the preference eligible. The appointing authority shall comply with the findings of 
OPM. The ftinction of OPM under this subsection may not be delegated. 



ACTIONS COVERED 

5 U.S.C. 7512 Provides: This subchapter applies to - 

(1) a removal; 

(2) a suspension for more than 14 days; 

(3) a reduction in grade; 

(4) a reduction in pay; and 

(5) a furlough of 30 days or less; 
but does not apply to - 



13 



(A) a suspension or removal under section 7532 of this title. 

(B) a RIF action under section 3502 of this title, 

® the reduction in grade of a supervisor or manager who has completed not 
completed the probationary period under section 3321 (a)(2) of this title if such 
reduction is to the grade held immediately before becoming such a supervisor or 
manager. 

(D) a reduction in grade or removal under section 4303 of this title, or 

(E) an action initiated under section 1215 or 7521 of this title. 



APPELLATE PROCEDURE 

5 U.S.C. § 7701 provides: (a) An employee, or applicant for employment, may 
submit an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) from any action which 
is appealable to the Board under any law rule or regulation. An appellant shall have 
the right - 

(1) to a hearing for which a transcript will be kept; and 

(2) to be represented by an attorney or other representative. 

Appeals shall be processed in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Board. 

(b)(1) The Board may hear any case appealed to it or may refer the case to an 
administrative law judge appointed under section 3105 of this title or other employee of 
the Board designated by the Board to hear such cases, except that in any case involving 
a removal from service, the case shall be heard by the Board, an employee experienced 
in hearing appeals, or an administrative law judge. The Board, administrative law 
judge, or other employee (as the case may be) shall make a decision after receipt of the 
written representations of the parties to the appeal and after oppormnity for a hearing 
under section (a)(1) of this section. A copy of the decision shall be furnished to each 
party to the appeal and to the Office of Persomiel Management. 

(2)(A) If an employee or applicant for employment is the prevailing party in an 
appeal under this subsection, the employee or applicant shall be granted the relief 
provided in the decision effective upon the making of the decision, and remaining in 
effect pending the outcome of any petition for review under subsection (e), unless- 

(I) The deciding official determines that the granting of such relief is not 
appropriate; or 

(ii) (1) the relief granted in the decision provides that such employee or 
applicant shall return or be present at the place of employment during the period 
pending the outcome of any petition for review under subsection (e); and 

(II) the employing agency, subject to the provisions of subparagraph (B), 
determines that the return or presence of such employee or applicant is unduly 
disruptive to the work environment. 

(B) If an agency makes a determination under subparagraph (A)(ii)(II) that 
prevents the remrn or presence of an employee at the place of employment, sgch 
employee shall receive pay, compensation and all other benefits as terms and conditions 
of employment during the period pending the outcome of any petition for review under 
section (e). 



227 



14 



® Nothing in the provisions of this paragraph may be construed to require any 
award of back pay or anomey fees be paid before the decision is final. 

(3) With respect to an appeal from an adverse action covered by subchapter V 
of chapter 75. authority to mitigate the personnel action involved shall be available, 
subject to the same standards as would apply in an appeal involving an action covered 
by subchapter 11 of chapter 75 with respect to which mitigation authority under this 
section exists. 

(c)(1) Subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection, the decision of the agency 
shall be sustained under subsection (b) only if the agency's decision - 

(A) in the case of an action based on unacceptable performance described in 
section 4303 or a removal from the Senior Executive Service for failure to be 
recertified under section 3393a, is supported by substantial evidence; or 

(B) in any other case, is supported by a preponderance of the evidence. 

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), the agency's decision may not be sustained 
under subsection (b) of this section if the employee or applicant for employment - 

(A) shows harmful error in the application of the agency's procedures in 
arriving at such decision; 

(B) shows that the decision was based on any prohibited personnel practice 
described in section 2302(b) of this title; or 

® shows that the decision was not in accordance with law. 
(d)(1) In any case in which- 

(A) the interpretation or application of any civil service rule, or regulation, 
under the jurisdiction of the Office of Personnel Management is at issue in any 
proceeding under this section; and 

(B) the Director of the Office of Personnel Management is of the opinion that an 
erroneous decision would have a substantial impact on any civil service law, rule or 
regulation under the jurisdiction of the Office; 

the Director may as a matter of right intervene or otherwise panicipate in that 
proceeding before the Board. If the Director exercises his right to participate in a 
proceeding before the Board, he shall do so as early in the proceeding as practicable. 
Nothing in this title shall be construed to permit the Office to interfere with the 
independent decision making of the Merit Systems Protection Board. 

(2) The Board shall promptly notify the Director whenever the interpretation of 
any civil service law, rule or regulation under the jurisdiction of the Office is at issue 
in any proceeding under this section. 

(e)(1) Except as provided in section 7702 of this title, any decisions under 
subsection (b) of this section shall be final unless- 

(A) a party to the appeal or the director petitions the Board for review within 30 
days after the receipt of the decision; or 

(B) the Board reopens and reconsiders a case on it's own motion. The Board, 
for good cause shown, may extend the 30-day period referred to in subparagraph (A) of 
this paragraph. One member of the Board may grant a petition or otherwise direct that 
a decision be reviewed by the full Board. The preceding sentence shall not apply if, by 
law, a decision of an administrative law judge is required to be acted upon by the 
Board. 



228 
15 



(2) The Director may petition the Board for review under paragraph (1) of this 
subsection only if the Director is of the opinion that the decision is erroneous and will 
have a substantial impact on any civil service law, rule, or regulation under the 
jurisdiction of the Office. 

(f) The Board, or an administrative law judge or other employee of the Board 
designated to hear a case, may - 

(1) consolidate appeals filed by two or more appellants, or 

(2) join two or more appeals filed by the same appellant and hear and decide 
them concurrently, if the deciding official or officials hearing the case are of the 
opinion that the action could result in the appeals' being processed more expeditiously 
and would not adversely affect any party. 

(g)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, the Board, or an 
administrative law judge or other employees of the Board designated to hear a case, 
may require payment by the agency involved of reasonable anomey fees incurred by an 
employee or applicant for employment if the employee or applicant is the prevailing 
party and the Board, administrative law judge, or other employee (as the case may be) 
determines that payment by the agency is warranted in the interest of justice, including 
any case in which a prohibited personnel practice was engaged in by the agency or any 
case in which the agency's action was clearly without merit. 

(2) If an employee or applicant for employment is the prevailing party and the 
decision is based on a finding of discrimination prohibited under section 2302(b)(1) of 
this title, the payment of attorney fees shall be in accordance with the standards 
prescribed under section 706(k) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2(X)Oe-5(k). 

(h) The Board may, by regulation, provide for one or more alternative methods 
for settling matters subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the Board which shall be 
applicable at the election of an applicant for employment or of an employee who is not 
in a unit for wijich a labor organization is accorded exclusive recognition, and shall be 
in lieu of other procedures provided for under this section. A decision under such a 
method shall be final, unless the Board reopens and reconsiders a case at the request of 
the Office of Personnel Management under subsection (e) of this section. 

(I)(l) Upon submission of any appeal to the Board under this section, the board, 
through reference to such categories of cases, or other means, as it determines 
appropriate, shall establish and announce publicly the date by which it intends to 
complete action on the matter. Such date shall assure expeditious consideration of the 
appeal, consistent with the interests of fairness and other priorities of the Board. If the 
Board fails to complete action on the appeal by the announced date, and the expected 
delay will exceed 30 days, the Board shall publicly announce the new date by which it 
intends to complete action on the appeal. 

(2) Not later than March 1 of each year, the Board shall submit to the Congress 
a report describing the number of appeals submitted to it during the proceeding fiscal 
year, and the number of appeals on which it completed action during that year, and the 
number of insKj^s during that year in which it failed to conclude a proceeding by the 
date originally announced, together with an explanation of the reasons therefor. 



229 



16 



(3) The Board shall by rule indicate any other category of significant Board 
action which the Board determines should be subject to the provisions of this 
subsection. 

(4) It shall be the duty of the Board, an administrative law judge, or employee 
designated by the Board to hear any proceedings under this section to expedite to the 
extent practicable that proceeding. 

(j) In determining the appealability under this section of any case involving a 
removal from the service (other then the removal of a reemployed annuitant), neither 
an individual's status under any retirement system established by or under Federal 
stamte nor any election made by such an individual under any such system may be 
taken into account. 

(k) The Board may prescribe regulations to carry out the purpose of this 
section. 



A'i-c^e^i n _ Q"? _ Q 



230 

Statement by the Foreign Service Veterans Association April 30, 1995 



Section 181 of PL 103-236 ( the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1994-1995) requires that 
the Secretary of State issue regulations for reductions in force (RJF) in the Foreign Service. This 
law amends section 61 1 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 and specifies that the due effect 
should be given to "military preference [i.e. veterans preference], subject to section (a) (3) of title 
5" during the conduct of Foreign Service RIFS. 

The legislative history shows that there was little discussion and no debate on this provision, 
which was offered as an amendment by Senator Helms on January 25, 1994. During hearings on 
the Act, Senator Helms said "...this amendment will give the Secretary of State the same 
authority over his employees that the Secretaries of every other agency or department has over 

his or her employees members of the Foreign Service should not be treated as a protected class 

of privileged individuals. They should be treated no differently than members of the Civil 
Service on this issue." The amendment was adopted as submitted by Senator Helms. 

5 U.S.C. 3501 and 3502 (derived from the veterans preference act of 1944, 5 U.S.C. 861) 
concerns retention preference during reductions in force in the executive branch. Section 3501 
(b): "except as otherwise provided by this subchapter and section 3504 of this title, this 
subchapter applies to each employee in or under an executive agency". 

Section 3502 (a) (2) specifies that in a reduction in force due effect will be given to "military 
preference, subject to section 3501 (a) (3)". 

It is of interest to note that the Foreign Service Authorization Act and 5 U.S.C. 3501(a) (2) use 
identical language regarding military preference, i.e.. "Military preference, subject to section 
3501 (a) (3)". ( Section 3501 (a) (3) concerns the definition of preference eligible employees 
who are retired military.) 

The code of federal regulations (5 CFR 351.201 et seq.) provides the detailed rules and 
procedures to be followed regarding the application of veterans preference during RIFs. 351.202 
specifies that these rules apply "to each civilian employee in the executive branch". 

However, 351.201 provides that "an agency authorized to administer foreign national employees 
under section 408 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 may include special plans for reductions in 
force in its foreign national employee programs "to take into account local labor laws". The 
implication is clear: the rules apply to foreign service (American) employees but not to foreign 
service national employees, who are subject to the laws of their country. 

The Foreign Service agencies (State, USIA and AID ) have written RIF regulations as required 
by the Foreign Relations Act of 1994-1995. (To date, only USIA's have been formally issued 
and approved by 0PM). These regulations provide some limited preference to veterans. 
However, these are not uniform between the agencies and do not comply with the requirement of 
law in 5 U.S.C. 3502 and 5 CFR part 351. 



231 



The Foreign Service agencies are now in the process of conducting Foreign Service RIFs (USIA 
expects to RIF about 25 foreign service employees by May 1996; AID has announced a RIF of 
up to 200 FS employees in 1996). It is clear that, under the agencies' RIF regulations, which 
provide only a minimal "token" preference for veterans, some veterans and disabled veterans will 
be RIFFED this year. 

The question at hand is whether the Congress and the Law clearly intend that veterans preference 
rules under 5 U.S.C. 3501-3502 apply to the Foreign Service in the same manner as the Civil 
Service. We think the law is clear on this matter. Certainly, Senator's Helms statement that 
Foreign Service employees "should be treated no differently than members of the Civil Service 
on this issue" is clear. 

The Act (PL 123-206) did not specify that the Foreign service RIFS be conducted in accordance 
with 5 U.S.C. 3501 and 3502. It only specified that the same exception to the veterans preference 
used in the Civil Service (i.e. concerning retired military under 3501a3) also be used in Foreign 
Service RIFs. It is clearly implied that the other provisions of 3501 and 3502 related to veterans 
preference for the Civil Service would also apply equally to the Foreign Service. 

Congress did not specify this because it did not need to~5 U.S.C. 3501 (b) clearly states that 
these rules apply to all employees of the executive branch. 

There is case law that supports this: Daub vs US ("this section applies to all civilian employees 
in the executive branch") and Casman v US , which confirmed that a veteran "operating under 
the foreign service ...was within the provision of this section" ( Title 5 annotated, page 494). 

In the absence of action by the Congress, the Foreign Service agencies will RIF veterans in the 
months to come under regulations that do not afford the same preference as Civil Service 
veterans receive. The Foreign Service agencies have wrongly interpreted the intent of the Foreign 
Relations Act to mean that they could issue RIF regulations which disregard the requirements for 
veterans preference as required by 5 U.S.C. 3501 and 3502. 

We ask that the Congress take action to clarify its intent so that there will be no 
misunderstanding by the Foreign Service agencies. 




MnNWTMUIT or AOMCULVUNB 

Of nee at assistamt sicneTAnY for aouimstratioh 
LO.ca 



APR 2 9 1M6 



Mr. Michael Kirby 
Professional Staff 
House Committee on Govemment 
Reform and Oversight 
B'350A Raybum Building 
Washington, D. C. 20515 



Dear Mr. Kirby: 

The enclosure responds to your request for information concerning the provisions of bow 
Veterans' ptefwence is used in the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Demonstration Project 



Sincerely, 

Wardcll C. Townsend, Jr. 
Assistant Secretary 
for Administiation 



/ju/i^sHt,::^/ 



Enclosure 



The Administration's proposal for using a category rating system is based on the 
successful use of this process in a demonstration project at the Department of Agriculture 
(USDA). The USDA Demonstration Project has been tested by both the Forest Service (FS) and 
ibe Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Veterans groups have been continually briefed on die 
project as it affects veterans from the very beginning of the USDA project Specific steps were 
included in the design of die project to assess the impact that the procedures would have on the 
fairing of veterans. 

The results of the project to date shows actual improvements in the hiring of veterans. 
For exan^le, Pennsylvania State University evaluated the USDA Demoistration Project from 
July 1 , 1990 through November 1994. They compared sites using the govemmentwide 
evaluation process with those following the demonstration practice of establidiing quality 
groupings. What they found was that more persons with veterans preference were hired at the 
demonstration sites (i.e., 1 8% for demonstration sites versus 15% for the comparison sites). For 
ARS, this also represented a significant increase m the selection of veterans during a baseline 
period prior to die cnplementation of the Demonstration Project 

Examining on die basis of individual scores is inherently no less subjective and vague 
than examining on a categorical basis. Both approaches involve using relative degrees of merit 
Some would argue that the individual scores produced by die current process suggests a degree 
of precision the examining tools do not actually possess. As an eKOnapte, is aperson-wtth a score 
of 93 out of 100 really siq^erior to one with a score of 92? USDA's Demonstration Project 
examining process ia a proven method for evaluating candidates for enliy into the Federal service 
without adverse harm to veterans preference. 



234 

STATEMENT BY 

WALTER T. CHARLTON 

ATTORNEY FOR A CLASS OF APPROXIMATELY 300 

DISABLED VETERANS WHO WORKED OR NOW WORK 

AT THE UNITED STATES 

GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE (GAO) 



BEFORE THE 

CIVIL SERVICE SUBCOMMITTEE 

OF THE COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS 



UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATI\TS 
104TH CONGRESS 



NOT FOR PUBLICATION UNTIL RELEASED BY THE HOUSE 

OF REPRESENTATIVES 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE APRIL 30, 1996 



Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, thanl( you Tor the opportunity to discuss 
the deplorable situation in the civil service pertaining to treatment of disabled veterans 
(DAVs). My own knowledge of this subject has been developed over a nearly 10 year time 
frame during which I have represented a class of disabled veterans at the United States 
General Accounting OfTice, the legislative branch's "Watchdog Agency". Recent review of 
a GAO report dated February 1996 on other agencies non-performance as to the treatment 
of DAVs gives one pause, for GAO's own sorry record was not included in that review. 
Asking GAO to do this work is like asking the fox to count the chickens. 

The facts outlined here demonstrate, at the very least, a government wide callus 
disregard of the rights of these patriots who have earned a special status of gratitude for 
service to our country. The United States Government and in particular, the Congress has 
consistently recognized our veterans contributions by granting them preferences since the 
beginning of this Republic. Evidence at hand demonstrates that government agencies are 
ignoring the will of congress as to veterans preferences. 

Evidence indicates that veterans and disabled veterans, not withstanding their 
preference rights and abilities and accomplishments have been treated as charity cases and 
second class citizens to be avoided at all costs in hiring and promotion decisions. 

The representations of fact made in this statement are not based upon opinions of 
the author, but rather represent statements based upon a solid foundation of imperial 
statistical and other evidence gathered in litigation, from OPM's, GAO's and other well 
published reports, personnel statistics and sworn testimony. 

The statistical base of the statements made herein was gathered in two on-going 10 
year old lawsuits against the GAO. These lawsuits serve but an example of what has been 
happening for the last 15 years throughout the government. 

The information gathered demonstrates that: 

* The number of DAVs has dropped at GAO from 289 to 52 over the period 
(1980-1995). GAO has gerrymandered hiring preference rules. Standard 
improper practices include intentional failure to hire or promote a person 
who is a known disabled veteran, regardless of whether or not that veteran 
had superior qualifications for that Job. 

* During the statistical period studied, not one DAY was ever promoted to the 
Senior Executive Service ranks. 

* DAY promotions to the higher grades (GS 13-15) were all but non-existent 
lower than that for non-veteran minorities and women and virtually non- 
existent for GS 15 (See table below). 



DAV advancement rates for the years 1985-1992 were lower than GAO as a 
whole, when, as we all know, DAVs should have been second to none in terms 
of promotion opportunities. 

Evidence of record was stipulated as correct by GAO and is contained in 
GAO's Exhibit 20. 

Increases and decreases of the number of employees by group for the 12 year 
period shows the trends in advancing other groups at the expense of DAVs 
in both hiring and promotion: 



EMPLOYEE 


NO. OF 


EMPLOYEES 


PERCENTAGE 


GROUPS 


1980 


1992 


OF CHANGE 


Women GS 7-12 


827 


1,279 


54.7 


Blacks 7-12 


388 


548 


41.2 


DAVs 7-12 


95 


51 


(46J) 


Women GS 13-15 


148 


688 


351.0 


Blacks 13-15 


51 


262 


413.0 


DAVs 13-15 


61 


52 


(14^) 


Women SES 


2 


22 


1,000.0 


Blacks SES 


2 


8 


300.0 


DAVs SES V 


1 





(100.0) 



Overall, women and minorities earnings went up, women particularly in 
higher grades, DAVs were "left off the table". 

Disabled Veterans were not promoted, women and minorities were "stuffed" 
into higher pay categories. 



V This number represent the inexorable zero as to SES promotions. There were 
none for the entire 12 year period for over 185 disabled veterans. 



237 



The result observed for DAVs, in terms of promotions, was that they ranlied last, not 
first as the Congress intended. Non-veterans, in particular women received salary 
advancements up to 10 times higher than DAVs as the result of intentional preferences in 
promotions resulting from the on-going "affirmative action plan" for the women. 



Improper Promotions practices included ; 

* Withdrawing a promotion or hiring announcement once it became known that 
a DAY was among the "best qualified" candidates; 

* Always and without exception, picking a non-veteran minority or woman in 
preference to a veteran, and most particularly a disabled veteran from the 
"best qualiHed list". This happened because DAVs were not the subject of any 
affirmative action plan, also a violation of congressional intent and GAO 
regulations. It also should be noted that the DAY group at GAO is composed 
of about 50% minorities, making even more egregious the bias against DAYs. 

* Management cover-up and obstruction of testimony in the on-going DAV 
litigation which included false testimony under oath that existing damning 
documents did not exist. 

* GAO's consistent position was to the effect that under GAO regulations DAYs 
were not entitled to special treatment. 

* GAO also failed to follow its own regulations requiring statistical record- 
keeping of DAY comparative results and attempted to place this burden on 
its poor downtrodden DAYs. 

* Management of GAO stated under oath, the false position that G AO's shabby 
treatment of DAYs was mere oversight these last 15 years. 

* After years of expensive litigation it has now recently been discovered, that 
GAO was not candid with its own oversight board, the Personnel Appeals 
Board (The PAB). 



238 



CONCLUSION: 

All of the foregoing can be further substantiated or detailed as deemed necessary. 
It seems incomprehensible that Congress' own investigative, watchdog agency, can act as 
has been demonstrated by the foregoing facts. The wrongs outlined above should be 
immediately and retroactively corrected. 

Should further information be deemed of value to the committee, the undersigned 
counsel for the disabled veterans class action at GAO will be more that pleased to cooperate 
with the committee. 



Walter T. Charlton & Associates 

Attorney At Law, Washington, B.C. 

703-525-8387 (Phone) 
Mailing Address: 703-522-2930 (Fax) 

2009 North 14th Street E. Mail: Charltonwt@aol.com 

SuUe 612 
Arlington, Va. 22201 



Respectfully submitted. 



Walter T. Charlton 




5^=112 



Vietnam Veterans of America ^ Inc. 

1224 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005-5183 • Telephone (202) 628-2700 

Faxes: Main 12021 628-5880 • Advocacy (202) 628-6997 • Communications (202) 783-4942 • Finance (202) 628-5881 / 

A Not-For-Profit Veterans Service Organization Chartered by the United Slates Congress 



STATEMENT OF 

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA 

Submhted by 

William F. Crandell 

Deputy Director, 

Government Relations 



To the 

House Committee on 

Government Reform and Oversight 



Subcommittee on 
Civil Service 



Veterans Preference Reform 



April 30. 1995 



240 



Introduction 

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, Vietnam Veterans of America (WA) 
appreciates the opportunity to present its views on veterans preference reform. That such 
hearings are needed Is a sad and shocking testament to the limits on government's ability 
to do what it intends and promises. The welcoming parades for the Resian Gulf War 
veterans are over, the reenactments of the world's most terrifying war are completed, the 
memorials to those who fought in Korea and Vietnam have been dedicated. How is it that 
veterans preference in federal employment has come under attack? 

A Guerrilla War 

What has long been a guerrilla war is being conducted openly today by pundits and 
federal managers, opposed to what they term "quotas for good old boys." Critics now view 
veterans preference as a system of favoritism that forces the government to ^'irt. vhite men 
over more qualified women and minority job applicants. The marvel is th idea that 
veterans preference denies anybody jobs, when it works infrequently at b st due to 
systematic collusion to ignore federal law in federal agencies. 

Veterans preference - a system codified in 1944 in federal employment to help 
veterans make up for lost years and disabilities from wartime service - applies far more often 
to low-ranking jobs, while many "responsible positions" are filled through other means. 
Managers who contend that veterans preference gets in the way of hiring women and 
minorities often have specific applicants they want to hire, rather than the most qualified 
candidate. That is against the law. And thinking of veterans as "men" is one of the blindest 
stereotypes left, in a time when women hold key positions throughout the military. 

The idea of veterans preference is a reasonable one - to reward capable veterans for 
military service and to make up for career time sacrificed, and sometimes to make up for 
service-connected disabilities. The government gains employees with training, skills and 
character vouched for by an honorable discharge. Only those veterans who pass a civil 
service test or are rated as qualified receive a 5-point boost on test rankings (10 points if 
disabled) and some protection - often ignored - during reductions in force (RIFs). Actually, 
veterans preference won't help anybody get a job he or she can't do. 

Part of the Merit System 

Civil service rankings can be very competitive - that was the whole idea when the 
system was created. Five or ten points out of perhaps seven hundred can make a difference. 
But to argue that the veterans preference bonus forces federal managers to hire anybody 
other than the most qualified applicant requires a degree of faith in the precision of civil 
service tests that nobody in government shares. There is no way to test for interpersonal 
skills, management skills, basic decency or a sense of humor, all of which can be far better 
indicators of the right person for the job than a few points on a federal exam. 

A more likely reason why veterans hold federal jobs out of proportion to their 



241 



numbers is that, movies and television notwithstanding, for every Vietnam veteran who 
became a police officer or a spy, hundreds found good safe jobs in government, industry 
and the professions - jobs now disappearing due to base closings, plant closings and 
downsizing of government and industry. 

A recent study by the Veterans Economic Action Coalition, in cooperation with VEAC 
Legal Services Fund of New York Corporation, demonstrates with Government Accounting 
Office (CAO) data that nearly three-quarters of a million federal positions held by veterans 
in 1976 were lost by 1992. That 30 percent of federal jobs held by veterans in 1990 was 
50 percent just 1 5 years earlier. Today veterans constitute a declining 1 4-1 5 percent of the 
overall work force, yet an increasing 21-26 percent of all workers dislocated by plant 
closings, layoffs and general economic transformation. These are veterans who had good 
jobs and did them well. 

Federal agencies admit cheating on veterans preference to hire non-veteran men and 
women. GAO found in 1 992 that in 71 percent of the situations when a veteran was at the 
top of a Civil Service register, the register was returned unused and the law was 
circumvented. Other methods include tailoring job descriptions to fit the qualifications of 
particular individuals, or listing jobs as "intermittent" to discourage veteran applicants. 
Illegal? Sure, but there is no remedy. An unsuccessful federal applicant who suspects 
discrimination based on sex, race or religion can appeal to the Equal Employment 
Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A cheated veteran has no such recourse. 

The most effective protections for veterans under veterans preference laws are 
primarily for job retention during reductions in force. Throughout the federal government, 
bureaus and offices are being "reorganized" to skirt RIF protections. The U.S. Postal Ser\'ice 
(USPS) came to a major clash with President Clinton when it tried this on a massive scale, 
arguing that if the law were enforced for veterans, USPS would have to fire women and 
minorities. This same gimmick appears now in smaller parts of federal agencies that escape 
the budget-shorn efforts of OPM to make federal agencies obey federal laws. 

Not a Partisan Issue 

It has made little difference for veterans preference who has sat in the White House 
during the past two decades. Direction from presidents and their appointed officials has 
varied from outright hostility to malignant neglect. President Clinton's strong statements 
of support have been welcome, but with the exception of the Administration's reversal of 
USPS's bogus "reorganization" scheme two years ago, the message has still not reached the 
senior level civil servants who hold themselves immune to Title 5 U.S.C. 

The least a president can do to have a serious impact on federal bureaucrats is to 
direct cabinet officials to include active veterans preference practices in performance 
evaluations for hiring managers. Nobody in the veterans community advocates the use of 
goals and timetables. But federal agencies routinely hold training to explain the rules and 
the point of affirmative action hiring for women and minorities, as well as on topics that 



242 



range from sexual harassment to cultural diversity in the workplace. It would harm no 
agency to learn the whys and hows of veterans preference. 

The major difficulty in enforcing veterans preference is rooted in the current class of 
senior bureaucrats. A great many have disliked veterans preference throughout their careers 
in civil service because they did not serve in the military, and thus have had to contend for 
competitive positions against preference eligible veterans. They do not understand the value 
to either the nation or to individuals of serving in the armed forces, and see no reason to 
reward such service. Many are inclined to think veterans were simply too stupid to avoid 
wearing the uniform. 

It is widely claimed among such senior bureaucrats that serious enforcement of 
veterans preference would harm efforts to hire, retain and promote women and minorities. 
This echoes a similar but fortunately much briefer period in which proponents of aggressive 
recruiting practices for either women or minorities warred with each other over which 
deserved higher priority. Just as there are minority women, there are minority veterans, 
women veterans and minority women veterans. 

The Problem Is Enforcement 

Veterans are in agreement that the heart of the problem with veterans preference is 
that it is not enforceable, and has not been since the creation of the Merit Systems 
Protection Board (MSPB) in 1978. MSPB never rules in favor of the veteran in a veterans 
preference case. If the case involves a job applicant, MSPB denies that it has jurisdiction, 
though nobody else does either. Case dismissed. Should an employee file a case, MSPB 
will rule that the consistency with which it has refused to enforce Title 5 U.S.C. amounts 
to a compelling body of case law, and will cite its own truculence as authority. Case 
dismissed. 

There is nowhere else to go. OPM has delegated away its authority over federal 
personnel practices, and Congress has reinforced this by gutting OPM's budget, so that OPM 
could not enforce Title 5 U.S.C. if it chose to. The Court of Veterans Appeals has no 
jurisdiction, and has limited its legal horizons to compensation benefits awarded by the 
Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Still, Congress by statute or the President by executive order could not only clarify 
MSPB's jurisdiction to make it responsible for veterans preference appeals, but lay 
requirements upon that body requiring MSPB to rule for veteran appellants when they have 
been wronged. MSPB's jurisdiction should be spelled out in bold letters to include every 
case in which a veteran appeals any personnel decision on grounds of a violation of 
veterans preference. This jurisdiction must apply to individual and class actions, and to the 
competitive and exempted services. 

Certainly, changes will need to be made so that MSPB becomes a user-friendly and 
effective appeals system. Its rulings and internal papers need to be accessible to veterans 



243 



and veterans service organizations, and MSPB must be required to report periodically to 
Congress in a way that will allow Congress to evaluate its performance. Legislation or 
executive orders designed to accomplish these ends will need to be written so tightly that 
no federal bureaucrat can sidestep them. 

Conclusion 

Veterans preference is the great unfulfilled promise of the United States to those who 
have served in time of crisis to the detriment of their own lives and well-being. But 
Congress does not write laws to have them ignored. Veterans preference must have an 
effective enforcement mechanism. 

There are no quotas in veterans preference. It is a recompense for military service 
that puts qualified men and women in federal jobs - a reinforcement for the merit system. 
Does it require hiring a man instead of a woman? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it 
requires hiring a minority veteran applicant instead of a white one. Sometimes veterans 
preference will require hiring a woman instead of a man, if she took the time and the risks 
involved in military service and he did not. 

Mr. Chairman, this concludes our testimony. 



244 



TESTIMONY OF THE VIETNAM VETERANS INSTITUTE BEFORE 

THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CIVIL SERVICE 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT 




May 1996 

The Vietnam Veterans Institute was organized in 1980 as a scholarly 
organization and *think-tank" to work on the issues of employment and 
business opportunities for Vietnam veterans. 

According to the Department of Labor's statistics, Vietnam veterans for 
10 years following the war had a significantly higher rate of 
unemployment in all age groups than their non-veteran peers--which 
included women and minorities. Paradoxically, Vietnam veterans, 
according to those same statistics, have a significantly higher level of 
formal education. 

Now at a median age of 50, Vietnam veterans still suffer from resounding 
bias in the job market and academia; and, while the employment statistics 
have improved, underemployment is still a major issue. For example, 
some disenchanting statistics on employment were revealed to the Vietnam 
Veterans Institute under the Freedom of Information Act. The career set- 
aside senior executive positions (top managers) at the Department of 
Veterans Affairs (DVA) Central Office are only 1.47% of non-political 
senior executive positions! 1.47%! According to DVA, in a 1992 report, 
veterans only comprised 26.2% of the Department workforce nationwide. 
At this writing, less than 50% of the employees at the DVA Central 
Office-within which resides the offices that create policy affecting 
veterans' health care and benefits-are veterans, the preponderance of 
which are in mid to low-level career positions. 



Dr. Pator C. RoKn*. i«e« c 
Col. Patrick H. Oocktry, e 



Df. Rob«rt Oovto 
Dr. Jo« P. Dufot 
Dr. Jorvnhm C. N«lM 
Of. Jamm A. Suvar 
Dr. Ron Trawyn 



Mr. W^ar Bacoa 

Can. Raymond Davia. C*W. USMC 

Capt. Joa Dick. USN fftoO 



U.C. Kathy U Sauoa. U5AF (RaU 
Mr. Julaa Mwgoto 

Mr. D«iM T. MaiCa. LCSW-C 

Cot. a* L. Mta. CMH. USA (RaO 



Cat. Josaph V. Penar. USAF (Rat) 
Capt. 'Dawaon Riehaidaon. USNR 
M.G. Ma A: Santon. AUS (RaU 
»*. Mohaal 0. Tomaay. M Jk..CRC 
Hon. Jo Ann Watab 
B.G. Myma WHaRwon. USA (Rat) 



When tlie Vietnam Veterans Institute requested the original information, 
and subsequently provided it to a journalist (Sharon Churcher), a 
spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs denied the validity 
of the employment statistics. Churcher requested the same information 
that WI had obtained, which confirmed the statistics that VVI reported. 
Churcher wrote of this in her "USA Confidential" column in Penthouse 
Magazine's February 1992 issue entitled, "Is the DVA Anti- Veteran?" 

If we who served and those who were otherwise involved do not, through 
our words and deeds, challenge the revisionist history, a generation of 
young American fighting men will be forever denigrated and our national 
history will be clouded by erroneous assertions and nefarious bias. . 



USAF (Rat), pow««-7J 
a»n. CroabM E. SaiM. USA (RaO 
Can. WMiam C. Waaanoratond 



Hononrf Co-C/firpm 



San. Robart C. Byrd 

Rap. Jim Bunnng 

Spaakar Nawt Gingrieh 

Co-Chtirptmns: 

Of. M'Uaa Solova Houaton 

Lt.C. Kathy La Sauca. USAF (RaU 

Xon. J. Eldon Yataa 



Tha John Daara Building. P.O. Bex IS6. Tmonium. Maryland 21094 

(410) 494^9311 

tmtanhtm Olractor . Hon. Rudi Oraaham. 1003 Bhia Cprhtg Road. Oran«a Oty. FL U7C3 

(904) 77S.«9«2 Fax (904) 77e-9«17 

Bowd ef SclMlara - Dr. Patar C RolKna. OklalMma (lata UnlvMaltv. 206 Mon« Hal. (tawatw. OK 7407B 

1918)243-7637 Fax 6996 RoOntOosuunx.ucc.olutau.adu 



245 



The Vietnam Veterans Institute was organized in 1980 to work on the issues of 
employment and business opportunities for Vietnam veterans and to examine the underlying 
causes ot the bleak employment picture of those veterans. A White House initiative, headed 
and staffed by successful Vietnam veterans ran from 1982 through 1984 to explore the 
veterans economic picture and create job opportunities. U.S. Labor Department statistics for 
the ten years following the war revealed a national lack of commitment to Vietnam veterans 
Veterans experienced a significantly higher rate of unemployment in all age groups than their 
non-veteran peers-including women and minorities Paradoxically, those same statistics 
showed thai Vietnam veterans had a significantly higher level of formal education. Now at a 
median age of fifty, Vietnam veterans still suffer from resounding bias in the commercial 
sector, government, and academia, a bias which can now be expected to be compounded by 
age discrimination. While the unemployment statistics have improved, underemployment is 
stall a major issue 

As the following documentation will demonstrate, Vietnam veterans are effectively 
ban^ed from the higher reaches of the civil service. Led by the Defense Department targeting 
the senior grades (targeting the mid-level and kjwer grades has been underway for some 
years) the affirmative action weapon is now fully aimed at men wtio served in the Vietnam war, 
If they managed to rise that high in the avil service. An investigation of federal hiring practices 
by the Vietnam Veterans Institute, using govemment statistics, revealed that Vietnam veterans 
are consistently disproportionately absfiol from senior positions. In the world of affirmative 
action a veteran's service and qualifications never equal being the proper sex or color. 
Examination of government statistics disclose that when veterans are employed K is usually in 
lower level jobs. Even by the leftist definition of group representation, Vietnam veterans are 
"unden'epresented Current policies of racial and sexual preferences can only serve to reduce 
their numbers. Thus the administration, led by, and filled with anthViet-Nam zealots of the 
sixties, and their confederates in the bureaucracy, carries on Its cnjsade against those who put 
their country first. In their 'politically correct" view those who served in Vietnam f'minorities" 
and women as well) were part of an evil cnjsade against communist purity and must be 
punished. Affinmative action and its "diversity' offspring is the revenge of the leftist elite on 
American patriots. 

It is a terrible irony that as the cun-ent administration risks American lives in woridwide 
peacekeeping operations many of those who wore the uniform in the past can never expect to 
wori< for the govemment wtiich sent them in harm's way. "Veterans Preference", Title 5 of the 
US Code as well as the public policy enunciated in 38 USC 42, the government's obligation to 
hire and promote Vietnam veterans, is rout'nely ignored. 

Prejudice against veterans, especially those who served in and during the Vietnam 
War. is not a new phenomenon. A GAO report Federal Hiring: Does Ve(er3ns Preference 
Need Updating? (March, 1992) discovered a significant difference in position cancellations 



WI Testimony 5/96, cont' 



246 



between veteran and non-veteran applicants when a veteran was at the top of the selection 
list. As the follov*ring Instances illustrate, discnmination against Vietnam veterans is forging 
ahead 

The Foreign Service, America's most prestigious civilian service, which represents the 
nation overseas through the State and Commerce departments, refuses to award 
veterans points until the selection process is completed." (The 1944 Veterans Preference 
Act spedfies adding points to any examination) On its latest written examination State did 
not even tell candidates their numerical score, merely if they had passed By not 
awarding points In accordance with the congressional intent of THIe 5. and given the 
vagueness the "oral assessment' procedure, a veteran can be eliminated from consider- 
ation long before the "process is completed " When asked about Title 5, the Board of 
Examiners replied that the policy has never been questioned. (During the Carter 
presidency the White House decreed that women and minorities didnt have to take the 
|t>en rigorous examination, a resume would suffice. The same policy didn't apply to 
veterans.) 

Defense Department Under Secretary for Personnel Dom declared In September 1994 
that anyone seeking to promote or hire a white male for GS 13 and above had to submit 
the nomination for his personal review (Mike Causey, Washington Post). DOD later 
denied that Doms scheme was an official ruling, however, the department has now 
instituted special management opportunities. GS 13 and above, for women and approved 
minorities only. Vietnam veterans were not considered, nor are there any Vietnam 
veterans In the top DOD slots, a direct refutation of Title 36 of the US Code and public 
policy. Mr. Dom's actions remain unquestioned and unchallenged. 

Janet Reno's Justice Department launched Its "diversity" program for women and 
approved minorities. Veterans, judging from Justice's position do not factor into the 
"diversity" equation, obviously sacrifice for the nation takes second place to "political 
correctness " The Washington Times exposed Reno's memo in a 1994 editorial, but the 
policy was created almost a year before according to a confidential source 

The Department of Energy, contrary to Title 3S, does not maintain statistics on the 
number of disabled Vietnam veterans in its worisforce When asked for the numbers, 
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Timothy Diriis replied, "no infonmation 
Is compiled regarding the number of Vietnam veterans In order to provide that 
information, a manual search of all reconjs woutd have to be done and you have to pay 
for that search." Energy does, however, maintain racial statistics. 

The Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is 
notoriously lax In enforcing legal provisions which call for the hiring of Vietnam era 
veterans by federal contractors. This attitude stands in contrast with the Departments 
enthusiasm for enforcing the law with reganj to women and 'minorities ' In 1990 The Ohio 
State University only hired one veteran out of 869 new employees Congressional 
pressure thought a compliance review in 1991. In a 1992 agreement the university was 
cited for seven violations Including a lack of affinnaiive action for veterans and 'a dimate 
of harassment, intimidation, and coercion for veterans " It took two decades for the 
federal government to act. The government offered no explanation for tts tardiness. 
Furthermore, cash awards to veterans who have suffered discrimination are a pittance 
compared to other groups. 



WI Testinony 5/96, cont'd. 



247 



Distribution of Cash Awards, 1992 



disabled S6.599.236 (22.7%) 



veterans $260,592 (0.9%) 




lj||ilff:|. women $8,041,146 (27 7%) 



firjnorities $14,183,352 (48.7%) 



Adding insult to injury, there is no indication that veterans are any more welcome now 
at the Department of Veterans Affairs than they were during Republican administrations when 
"political coaectness" began to pemieate the department, (although VA seems to be the 
Clinton holding pen for veterans) The agency was already notorious for an anti-veteran attitude 
shown by many of its professionals. For instance, at that time the public affairs department 
was noticeable by the paucity of veterans, Vietnam veterans particularly. One staffer had the 
impertinence to display a caricature of herself burning a draft card while followers waved Ho 
Chi Minh placards Sources within the agency even revealed how the personnel office evaded 
the Veterans Readjustment Act. Damming though are the statistics The career set-aside 
senior executive positions at the department central office were only 1.47 percent of non 
political senior executive positions In 1992 veterans comprised only 26.2 percent of the 
nationwide vrarkforce; in the policy making central office in Washington less than 50 percent 
are veterans, most in mid to low level career positions, far from the levers of power. Freelance 
journalist, Sharon Churcher discovered VA spokesv«)men Donna St John(a non-vet) denying 
the validity of DVAs own statistics 

Discrimination is not limited to the executive branch. Congress, where a number of 
Vietnam veterans serve, has never displayed any great enthusiasm for Vietnam veterans 
Personal staffs and committee staffs have few veterans sen/ing on them-regardless of which 
party is in control. 

Academia, a regular recipient of federal contracts, has shown itself viciously 
anti-veteran. Duke political science professor Thomas Lomperis felt the wrath of the left 
When those who criticized his more traditional, i.e.. non-mathematical, scholarship were 
beaten back when his dissertation won the American Political Science Association award for 
best dissertation, they resorted to underhanded tactics. Faculty at the University of Kentucky 
assailed Lomperis because he was a military officer in Vietnam and didn't apologize for it. 
Unnamed accusers tried to brand him "racist" and "sexisr', a charge that could not be 
substantiated but which hurt his career Lomperis was also guilty of association with Samuel 
Huntington, prominent scholar who supported the war.-mortal sin in the eyes of the left Prof. 



WI Testimony 5/96, cont'd. 



248 



Phoebe Spinrad (an Air Force vet), of OSUs English Department found the worked 'murderer 
scrawled on her door a colleague admitted to it' R.W. Trewyn. professor of medical 
biochemistry at Ohio State University found his funding cut when he raised the issue of 
veterans disaimination. Trewyn is now at another university 

The consequence of anti-veteran bigotry has had an immediate and tangible effect. 
Vietnam veterans are behind the power curve in eamings. Dollar for dollar their income lags 
significantly behind their non-veteran peers making the business of having and supporting a 
family more economically difficult than it ought to be . In Military Service and civilian eamings 
of youths. , JR. Crane, and D.A. Wise writing in Public Sector Payrolls (Univ. of Chicago, 1987) 
reported that veterans earned approximately 12% less than their non-veteran peers The 
following chart based on a hypothetical case study is derived from information from combined 
sources on the economic outlook for veterans. 



EfleclpllDUUmfSeniceMCivinanEariilnis _ 


...... -.. - 


age 


;nonveteran 


veteran 




18 


~'$12.000 




-•: -, '-:- - - 


19 


$12,4M 






20 


•12.979 






21 


»13.49« 


•12,000 


•1.498 


2C 


•15,791 


•14.038 


•1,763 


30 


•19,212 


•17,080 


»2.132 


40 


•2«,439 


•26.282 


•3,167 


50 


•42^97 


•37,424 


t4,673 


60 


•62.313 


•65,396 


;^6,»17 V 


65 


$75,814.00 


: $67^98 ; 


i8^;18 




, _.. '.—.- 


^:_'-.-_:""i 


:. '■:-. ■- . ':• • 



•1,498.00 
•8.116.00 
•17.789 , 
•44,618.00 
•84,037 _T 
$142.38 ~ 

$181,347 



This is not a racial Issue, minorrties who refuse to hide their sen/ice may be 
discriminated against by the politically correct. TDe perpetrators of injustice are leftist 
ideologues, usually white, with a visceral disdain of their own culture and those who defend it. 

When bigotry against veterans is exposed for what it is - the punishment of those v*^o 
placed country before self - "political correctness" wiU be unmasked as an assauK on the 
principles of the Republic. 



WI Testimony 5/96, cont'd. 



249 



Testimony of John A. Marshall May 9, 1996 
Civil Service Subcommittee, Govt Reform 
Veterans' Preference Hearings 30 April 96 

The Honorable John L. Mica 

Chairman, Subcommittee on Civil Service 

Washington, DC. 20515 

Dear Congressman Mica; 

Thank you very much for your concem for veterans' preference in the April 30, 1996 hearings.. 
Regarding your focused questions on possible solutions for ensuring veterans' preference is not 
undermined, I would like to offer additional testimony and a solution in the bigger view 

As you noted during our convereation, legislation to place a veterans' preference clause in 5 CFR 
2302(b)(1) prohibited discriminations seems like a good one However after reviewing the 'Davis 
V. Army' testimony and fmding common ground in 'Marshall V. Navy', as well as the Odom and 
the Sgt Shaft testimony, it becomes clear that the primary reason all were present at the hearing was 
fiivolousdismissal of cases by MSPB/OSC. The real solution would be to remvent MSPB/OSC 
in a manner to protect civil servants from management abuse as intended by Congress under 5 
CFR Chapter 23 Merit System Principles, in addition to a clause for veterans' preferences. 

One solution addressed at the hearing was withholding of funds in cases where an agency was in 
violation of prohibited personnel practices (PPP), specifically veterans' preference. While this 
particular approach mi^t prove untenable, from it emerged an idea regarding monetary incentive 
more practical That would be to award monetary penalties in PPP cases decided in favor of the 
employee in Employee V. Management cases, with some reasonably simple legislation: 

1) Penalty awarded would be calculated by multiplying employee high-3 pay rate from time PPP is 
established to adjudication Where multiple PPP's are involved, penalty limited to x3 

2) Penalty so assessed would be drawn from Agency GM 15/SES Bonus pool dollars. 

3) If bonus pool proves insufficient, add the next SES COLA differential to the penalty bank. 

4) For MS PB judges, three dismissal decisions reversed in a one year period by Federal Court, 
EEOC or other Agency, means 3 strikes and judge is dismissed. Same for OSC case examiners. 

With some incentive for MSPB/OSC to get out of frivolous dismissal as modus operandi and into 
checks & balances, this will end what is, in effect, a management system protection board, and 
office of supervisors' counsel. However outlandish be the suggestions, this begs for correction. 

THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE IN USG REFORM IS EMPOWERING CREATIVENESS OF 
CIVIL SERVANTS. In the bigger view, the Reinventing Government movement must release 
the creativeness of civil servants at the working level. In Davis V. Army, Marshall V. Navy, Jane 
Doe Thompson V. CIA, and in the daily news, Sgt Shaft included, one can see that frivolous 
dismissal of cases under 5 CFR Chapter 23 Merit System Pnnciples, results in unconstrained 
authority over all civil servants in all agencies, with no accountability for abuse , or motivation to 
abstain from same, thus unchecked oppression of creativeness of the civil servant. 

The inevitable conclusion: Until the MSP "System" gets into real checks & balances, with benefit 
of the doubt going to the civil servant as least as frequent as management, any USG reform 
movement holds little hope. Congressional help is needed to reinvent Merit System Principles! 
Testimony that follows validates this fundamental observation. 



a 



S-rJZ/L 



t\ John Marshall 
United Sutes Marine Coips Reserve (Retired) 

Copy to the Honorable Steny Hoyer, Constance Morella, and Jim Moran; Sgt Shaft; AFGE 



250 



Testimony of John A Marshall May 9, 1996 
Civil Service Subcomminee, Govt Reform 
Veterans' Preference Hearings 30 April 96 

WHAT HAPPENED TO 5 CFR CHAPTER 23 MERIT SYSTEM PRINCIPLES'' 

Regarding Chairman Mica's concern for the veterans' preference, if one retreats to the higher view, 
andconsiders MSPB/OSC the moderative agency(s) for oppressive management, MSPB/OSC 
must be considered derelict in duty, given the grand total of testimony concerning 'Employee V. 
ManagemenC cases heard at the Veterans' Preference Hearing. 

The consistent themes of the testimony appeared to be: 

(1) Lack of clear path of appeal regarding veterans' preference problems, because there is no 
veterans' preference or military status clause in prohibited personnel practice (PPP) discrimination 
noted in 5 CFR 2302(b)(1) (A - E); 

(2) Veterans' Preferences cases brought before MSPB/OSC, whether it be the cause or the 
symptom appealed, are defeated by frivolous dismissal Davis/Odom V. Army, Marshall V. 
Navy, and many 'Shaff cases are germane This allows retaliation by unconstrained authority. 

Adversely mitigating this situation is growing caseloads (growth out of controP) in MSPB/OSC. 
Here MSPB/OSC might be viewed as a "victim" of a viscous circle of their own creation With 
frivolous dismissal, the survival of the fittest in Employee V. Management is clear Management 
has evolved as oppressive, not being held accountable for much of anything, in the few cases that 
go in the employee's favor; With an insensitive management, the caseload grows faster than linear, 
frivolous dismissal then becomes the MSPB/OSC relief valve, and 'Employee V. Management 
gets worse to the extent that MSPB/OSC becomes management system protection board/office of 
supervisor's counsel The wait in the OSC queue, from filing to action, can be as much as a year. 
The followmg Statistics would be most revealing: 



1) Percentage oi Employee V. h/kmagement cases decided in favor of Employee 

2) Of cases decided in favor of Employee, % of cases where Mgt is held accouni 

3) Same sUtistical questions regarding veterans' preference cases. 



In the Davis V. Army and Marshall V. Navy cases start the data base at 0/2 That Davis V. Army 
had to be taken "outside the box" to EEOC, indicates that the box is broke In both cases, there 
was frivolous dismissal of the cause (veterans' preference discrimination), as well the symptoms 

The combined testimony seems to beg for further Congressional (GAO?) Inquiry on whether 
MSPB/OSC is protecting civil servants from management abuse as Congress intended. This is a 
much bigger issue, of which veterans' preference is a subset 

In Marshall V. Navy the case in in OSC for the second time First pass by OSC, and MSPB, was 
met with frivolous dismissal, much the same as Davis V. Army, with much the same result: 
Complete reductions of duties and reprisal In first pass by OSC, after 127 days, MSPB 
Individual rights appeal was filed based on 120 day rule MSPB dismissed on basis of non- 
jurisdiction, stating among other things that Appellant had not exhausted options with OSC; OSC, 
in turn dismissed, noting that MSPB had dismissed . A real catch-22 cooperation in the evolution 
of frivolous dismissal The veterans' preference issue that met with frivolous dismissal was 
removal from a management position due to downsizing/organizational realignment, without 
consideration of veterans' preference. In filings with both MSPB & OSC, significant reduaion of 
duties, a PPP under 5 CFR 2302(b), was pointed out as a major symptom. Both MSPB & OSC 
dismissed this aspect of the case, perhaps because is was not exactly focused in the language of the 
board, or made an up fix>nt issue Where is the help for Appellants without counsel, presuming 
OSC plays that role? Worse, from the viewpoint of Appellant, legislation was passed in Oct 1994 
(Public Law 103-424), making the PPP of significant reduction of duties per 5 CFR 
2302(a)(2XA)(ix) a more serious infraction. While Marshall V. Navy was underway,in the time 



251 



Testimony of John A. Marshall May 9, 1996 
Civil Service Subcommittee, Govt Reform 
Veterans' Preference Hearings 30 April 96 

period the legislation was passed, neither MSPB or OSC informed Appellant of this legislation, 
much less took up the issue. 

In the only OSC statement made in Marshall V. Navy in Appellant's favor, regarding a Letter of 
Warning (LOW) "gag order" placing an indefinite prior restraint on an Acquisition Reform 
Beneficial Suggestion, that was extended to Appellant's USMCR and private endeavors, OSC 
noted: "extension of LOW to personal endeavors may be construed as a possible violation of your 
free speech rights. We have contacted the Agency; Agency has agreed to revise." 

There was no accountability for the violation of Appellants free speech rights from the time 
appellant began a protest of the LOW gag order on a Beneficial Suggestion as a violation of free 
speech 23 Feb 93, until OSC pronouncement noted above, on 12 June 95, nor was there any 
accountability for resulting career damage. The follow-on by the agency was; ( 1 ) reimposition of 
the LOW indefinite prior restraint through punishment by a minimally successful performance 
appraisal, a PPP; (2) Verbal debrief of the simation as: "We arc going to put the screws to you 
until you desist or pack your bags; (3) A Letter of Reprimand, when the speech was given "by the 
book" as a private citizen, as allowed by OSC and Agency Beneficial Suggestion Instractions. 

The first OSC/MSPB filing was attempted without counsel, in part on the advise of many that OSC 
was set up to represent the employee, thus one did not need counsel. As a result of the experience. 
Appellant Marshall would advise no one, as in NO ONE, to proceed to MSPB/OSC without 
counsel. At least "Davis V. Army " got to a hearing. 

This presents a further dilenuna to the civil servant, who normally is not independently wealthy, at 
least wealthy enough to pay counsel in a protracted fight, until attorney's fees can be recovered; 
will case statistics in "favor" of appellants indicate that such a venture is correctly perceived as very 
risky, thus seldom tried. In the survival of the fittest, of Employee V. Management, it is another 
situation that definitely favors management If they don't defeat you in detail, they defeat you over 
time. 

Management makes its case with falsifications and gross misrepresentations of the truth. In 
Marshall V. Navy, this is demonstrated in the Letter of Waring that put an indefinite prior restraint 
"gag order" on a Beneficial Suggestion. Then management uses the falsifications to make more 
charges, and punish, either overtly or covertly, noted as follows: In fact the Agency Inspector 
General found the agency to be at fault regarding failure to evaluate the Beneficial Suggestion, but 
this was never corrected in the record, and Agency continued to blame the employee. 

In the second OSC filing, presently under consideration by OSC, it was viewed by AFGE counsel 
that there was no possibility of appealing the cause, the veterans' preference issue, so the case 
addresses the PPFs of ( 1 ) 100% reduction of duties (Not unlike "Davis V Army"; (2) Violation of 
right to free speech and workplace protected speech, regarding a suggestion to improve 
effectiveness & efficiency in government, and (3) Failure of Agency to meet legal obligation of due 
consideration of a Beneficial Suggestion, by prompt, objective and fair evaluation. The dynamics 
of appealing a Letter of Reprimand in the face of falsifications and revision of history as a further 
defiance of OSC "advisements", continues real time. 

The present merit protection "system" poses a contradiction to reform by reinventing government. 
Civil Servants who rise to confront management for not standing in the integrity of the system are 
frequently the best; in the process the "system" allows them to "trashed" the worst. What does 
that say to the rest of us? Be quiet; stay in your place, or you will be next Davis V. Army is case 
in point; Edith Odom and husband were next. ! Marshall V. Navy documents in excruciating 



252 



Testimony of John A. Marshall May 9. 1996 
Civil Service Subconunittee, Govt Reform 
Veterans' Preference Hearings 30 April % 

detail. Sgt Shaft's case file documents en masse. The result is that, lacking merit system 
protection, only a very few come forward to challenge the system 

Translating this as cost to the taxpayer, consider the following approximation based on 100% 
reduction of (engineering) duties in Marshall V. Navy. Management puts the employee in a 
comer a means of forcing retirement (same as Davis V. Army); Pay and benefits wasted is 
conservatively $100K a year for 3 years (discrimination cases dragging on for 5 years is not 
uncommon): $300K down the tubes. Add $ lOOK for all that get involved in the appeal process: 
$400K; Given that this is a creative person, who is apt to improve efficiency, double the cost to the 
taxpayer, for $800K; add another $200K for all the good ideas of others that are repressed, 
watching innovators taking hits. 

Thus the real cost of Employee V Management to taxpayers approaches $1,000,000 in such cases. 
Regarding the DoD Agency who just reported expending something approaching $4 BilUon 
Dollars, with nothing to show, a Marshall V. Navy question lingers: In the program which 
Marshall suggested a better system engineering approach, how much waste could have been 
avoided, with the astute system engineering beneficially suggested? And, was the real reason for 
the gag order on the suggestion, embarrassment over $4 Billion Dollars worth of taxpayers' 
money going down the tube? ... or Just an unconstrained management exercising authority? A 
reasonable person would probably conclude: some of both. 

Only a radical change in the system, can reverse the trashing and outflow of good people, waste of 
money, and the current apparently correct perception that government employment is no longer 
civil, nor cost/effective. (Therefore downsize and privatize) Will the population statistics of 
frivolous dismissal and unconstrained authority accountable to no one, vaUdate the perception? 
What speaks of the "merit system" that has evolved, when leadership is dubbed whistle-blowing, 
and lacks the protection it deserves. 

The combined testimony clearly begs Congress to take action to restore 5 CFR Chapter 23 Merit 
System Principles, thus to release the creativity of civil servants to reinvent government 

I very much appreciate Sgt Shaft's "counsel" and encouragement to bring this to your attention. 

I also appreciate the unwavering support and backing of American Federation of Govenmient 
Employees (AFGE), through AFGE 1603 Local, as a provisional member of the Union. There 
emerges here a more difficuh challenge for the cure, but perhaps a preferable one. This is for the 
professionals to empower themselves, with the strength of arbib^tion in a union bargaining unit, or 
to at least vote for such a movement For civil servants, is this not our civic duty if we arc to be 
examples of participants in a democracy in which the citizens reinvent government? 

Congressman Mica, I thank you for the opportunity to give this testimony and for your 
consideration of it, as do my family, especially my wife Nancy; also my family in Florida, my 
father. Major John E. Marshall (USMCR, retired), step-mother Ann Marshall, and brothers Randy 
and Will Marshall, all constituents in your district That I have had the courage and persistence to 
pursue this issue is a tribute to my family, especially my college mentor - my late Uncle Art 
Marshall. Florida Ecologist of the Decade, in the '80's, who taught me: Always keep the bigger 
system in view, when examining the parts; Never let the bureaucracy beat you down; they will try. 
Also my mother, and my grandfathers on both sides; it docs take a village] 



253 



Testimony of John A. Marshall May 9, 1996 
Civil Service Subcommittee, Govt Reform 
Veterans' Preference Hearings 30 April 96 



This is also a tribute to the leadership of fine Marine officers I have served with, and exemplified 
that leadership was synonymous with integrity. . As a Marine veteran, my testimony is response 
to the oath I took 33 years ago, to protect the Constitution against all enemies foreign and 
domestic. My 275 F^ missions in the republic of Vietnam was the easy part, and in that case it 
was hard to see who was the enemy 



This testimony is given on behalf of all civil servants, to whom I challenge: 

Stand in the integrity of the system; Confront its absence; Make Government work better! 



Fidelis! 




John Marshall, Civil Servant 

SyWms Engineer, Department of the Navy 

Colonel, United States Marine Corps Reserve (Retired?) 

Not quite! 



254 



NCOA 



Non Commissioned Officers Association of the United States of America 

225 N.Washington Street ■ Alexandria, Virginia 22314 • Telephone (703) 549-0311 

STATEMENT OF 

LARRY D. RHEA 

DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS 

AS ENDORSED BY 

THE MILITARY AND VETERANS ALLIANCE 

TO THE 

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE 

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT REFORM AND 

OVERSIGHT 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 

ON 

VETERANS PREFERENCE 

APRIL 30, 1996 



Chartered by the United States Congress 



255 



Mr. Chaimian, the Non Commissioned Officers Association of the USA (NCOA) is grateful 
to you and the Subcommittee for the opportunity to present testimony on veterans 
preference. For many years, veterans preference laws served veterans, and indeed the 
Nation, weii. NCOA appreciates today's hearing but adds that it is sad commentary that it 
is needed, it is a sad day for die Nation when the Federal Government has ceased to be the 
model employer with respect to veterans. And, that precisely is where we are today. 

NCOA is pleased to report its statement has been endorsed by some member associations 
comprising the National Military and Veterans Alliance. The Alliance membership includes 
the American Military Retirees Association Inc., the American Retiree Association, Air Force 
Sergeants Associadon, the Korean War Veterans Association, the National Association of 
Uniformed Services, die Naval Enlisted Reserve Association, the Naval Reserve Association, 
the Non Commissioned Officers Association, and the Society of Military Widows. These 
organizations collectively represent over 500,000 members of the seven uniformed services, 
officer, enlisted, active-duty, reserve, retired and veteran plus their families and survivors. 

In many instances, perception is often the reality Mr. Chairman. For several years now, 
veterans have had the impression that veterans preference laws have become meaningless 
and/or are routinely ignored without consequence. Even a cursory examination of veterans 
employment in the federal work force could lead one to easily conclude the perception has 
a basis in reality. 

Periiaps the best example of why veterans perceive veterans preference laws are meaningless 



256 



is illustrated by the actions of tlie U.S. Postal Service in tiie last two and one-tialf years. 
Nearly 47,000 employees were displaced in management actions that the Posul Service 
called a "reorganizadon." Despite being dubbed a reorganization, the endre plan had one, 
and only one, overriding goal. That singular goal was to reduce costs by reducing people. 
Granted, some reorganizadon did in fact occur. But, as die old saying goes - - if it wailcs and 
talks like a reduction in force - -die "reorganizadon" was a "RIF". Consequendy, veterans 
retention rights were avoided by one of die largest agencies of die Federal Govemment. 

The actions by tiie Postal Service, actions supported by die Office of Personnel Management, 
cannot be tossed off as merely a perception among veterans. In NCOA's view, it was an 
overt attack to avoid, change and restructure veterans preference laws. 

Similarly, die situation as it exists today in die United States Information Agency (USIA) is 
not imaginary. It is very real and deeply troubling. USIA Announcement Number 96- 1 1 5, 
dated April 25, 1996 (Subject: Update on Foreign Service RIF Regulations), states - - 
"Veterans' preference will not be given for retired military." That same announcement goes 
on to say - - "We are pleased to announce tiiat for non-Broadcasting USIA employees we will 
not use RIF procedures to achieve reductions in FY 1 996." In otiier words, USIA is pleased 
to ignore veterans retention preference in force reductions. 

Anotiier Inescapable and indisputable fact was provided by die General Accounting Office 
(GAO). GAO sutistics show dial 71% of certificates are returned unused to OPM when 
a veteran applicant tops die list. That's fact, Mr. Chairman. NCOA also suggests diat the 



257 



trend toward more decentralized hiring authority and the authority to use single position 
competitive levels in RIF's is not serving veterans in either the spirit or intent of the law. 

NCOA has listened to numerous speeches and read countless press releases on the current 
Administration's commitment to veterans and veterans preference. Franldy, this Association 
does not place any credence in the riietoric because the ensuant actions are just the opposite. 
The two eariier examples underscore where the words and actions don't match. The U.S. 
Posul Service "reorganization" was supported by OPM. The actions uken by USIA based 
on OPM recommendations. If these two cases are an example of this Administration's 
commitment, then the commitment is completely hollow. 

The fact that federal agencies and hiring officials can overtly and routinely ignore federal law 
widi impunity is the single greatest issue on veterans preference that must be addressed in 
NCOA's view. It is indeed ironic that the full weight of the Federal Government can be 
brought to bear on a private sector employer when wrong doing is alleged but we seem 
unable to hold the Federal Govemment accounuble where veterans and their preference is 
concerned. 

Several ideas have been offered as to how accountability can be brought to the federal 
govemment and Its agencies and hiring offlcials. NCOA believes diat the proposal to treat 
violations or avoidance of veterans preference as a "prohibited personnel practice" should be 
seriously considered. Federal agencies and hiring officials must be held accounuble for 
violations of veterans preference laws to die same degree as they would for racial or sexual 



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discrimination. 



Making violations of veterans preference a proiiibited personnel practice would be an 
imporunt first step. It is equally important in NCOA's view to craft a redress system tiiat: 
is easily understood by veterans, federal agencies and hiiring officials; fias a series of distinct 
steps tiiat progress from informal to formal resolution of a complaint/violation; provides 
remedy for die veteran; and, conuins punitive measures against agencies and officials wiio 
violate tiie law. 

Among tlie several altematives being considered, NCOA requests ttiat ttie Subcommittee 
review Subciiapter III - Procedures for Assistance, Enforcement and Investigation - - of tiie 
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rigiits Act, Public Law 103-353. 
Althougii USERRA is a federal law tfiat pertains to employment/reemployment of armed 
forces members in tiie private sector and local and state govemment, NCOA believes tiiat 
the model provided therein might be useful in structuring a redress system for veterans 
preference. The provisions in Subchapter III embody the concepts that NCOA espoused 
in the preceding paragraph. Attached to NCOA's testimony is a diagram of the redress 
process contained in Subchapter 111. 

Aside from being a relatively clear process, USERRA also contains a rather strilcing feature 
that NCOA believes should be applied to violations of veteran preference law. USERRA 
provides for the full force and resources of the Federal Govemment, through the Department 
of ]ustice, to be brought down on the private sector and local and state govemment. It just 



259 



seems to NCOA that accountability in the Federal Government should be no less than that 
demanded daily from businesses, states and municipalities all across the Nation. 

In closing, NCOA again states its appreciation to the Distinguished Chairman for this hearing 
and for the opportunity provided to express our thoughts. The Association looks forward 
to a continuing dialogue on this important subject and hopes that veterans preference can 
be reasserted soon to its rightful and proper place in the Federal Government. 

Thank you. 



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STATE/LOCAL/PRIVATE SECTOR PRCXESS 

FOR COMPLAINTS UNDER 

UNIFORMED SERVICES EMPLOYMENT AND REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS ACT 

1 . Complaint received - case opened. 

2. Investigation 

a. Facts gathered 

b. Sutute applied 

c. Findings complied 

3. Determine If complaint meritorious 

a. Yes 

( 1 ) Seek resolution informally 

(2) Inform claimant of findings and right to refer case to DO] or to retain 
private counsel 

(3) DO) seelcs case resolution 

(4) DO) approves or disapproves representation 

(5) DO) or private counsel takes case to District Court 

b. No 

( 1 ) Claimant informed that case is not considered meritorious 

(2) Claimant informed of right to refer to DO) or to retain private counsel 

(3) DO) seeks case resolution 

(4) DO) approves/disapproves representation 

(5) DO) or private counsel takes case to District Court 

4. District Court hands down determination. 



42-662 (264) 



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