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Opening Statement of Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Chairwoman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of South Dakota

When called to duty, servicemembers must make the sacrifice of leaving behind their loved ones and way of life for an extended period of time.  As four of our most recent subcommittee hearings have highlighted, many of these servicemembers have returned home to find themselves having a difficult time securing employment.  From the early years of our Republic, veterans returning from war have been provided assistance in their reintegration back into civilian life, to include being given preference in federal government hiring, so they may succeed after their military service. 

Generally, to qualify for such preference, a veteran must have been discharged or released from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces under honorable conditions, and be eligible under one of the preference categories.  These categories apply to certain veterans who served during war; veterans with less than or greater than 30 percent service-connected disability; veterans who have a service-connected disability and is receiving benefits due to their disability, but do not qualify for other preferences; and family members of veterans.

Unfortunately, as we will hear today, there are some concerns that still exist today as they have existed in past years.  Some of these include veterans improperly denied appointments, and veterans targeted during reductions-in-force.

I hope this hearing will allow the Subcommittee to determine: the success rate of veteran’s preference; if veterans’ preference has assisted our nation’s heroes in acquiring jobs in the federal agencies; and if these agencies have implemented veterans’ preference properly. 

I applaud the federal agencies that have made strong efforts in hiring veterans, especially disabled veterans.  I would also like to take the time to recognize the steadfast dedication of all our panelists in their willingness to bring to light the serious issues that are being faced by our veterans. 

I know we, and the Administration officials on the third and fourth panels, look forward to hearing today’s testimonies so that we may all work together to properly recognize the sacrifice of those who have answered the call to duty.  This is especially true at a time when our country is experiencing an increased retirement rate among federal employees, and military operations that are creating a larger population of veterans.