Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter on Preference for Veterans in Federal Employment.

February 26, 1944

To the heads of executive departments and agencies:

I have today addressed a letter to the Civil Service Commission in which I have directed it, in connection with its recruiting activities, to give special emphasis to placing veterans who are available in vacancies in the Federal service.

It is my desire that, whenever the Civil Service Commission refers veterans to the various departments and agencies, these veterans be given preference in the filling of vacancies.

In addition, it is my desire that, wherever there is a shortage of qualified personnel, the heads of the various departments and agencies delegate to the Civil Service Commission full authority to recruit for them for vacancies which may exist in such types of positions as may be requested by the departments and agencies. This will eliminate the delays incident to the Commission's referring a number of names to the departments and agencies, and then having the departments and agencies decide who, among the persons referred to them, is to be selected for a particular position. Except in the case of filling unusual types of positions, there is no reason whatsoever why, taking into consideration the present manpower situation, the departments and agencies should not delegate this authority to the Commission. Not to do so means that the veteran is being subjected to unnecessary delays in his efforts to secure employment. This can not and should not be tolerated.

My attention has been called to the fact that there is some confusion in the minds of appointing officers in the departments and agencies as to the Federal Government's obligation to provide reemployment for persons who left the Federal service and entered the armed forces. I am today designating the Civil Service Commission as my representative for the purpose of issuing, from time to time, instructions which will indicate just what the rights of the returning veterans are under certain sets of circumstances. The instructions issued by the Commission should be rigidly adhered to by the heads of the departments and agencies and by their representatives.

I have instructed the Commission to notify me, through the Liaison Officer for Personnel Management, of any reluctance upon the part of particular departments or agencies to adhere to these instructions relative to the reemployment of returning veterans. The Federal Government's record in this regard must be one which will constitute an example for all employers.

Dear Mr. Ramspeck:

I have learned with real interest that your Committee is planning to consider, in the near future, certain legislative proposals relating to the extension of preference to veterans who desire to compete for positions in the Federal Civil Service.

I believe that the Federal Government, functioning in its capacity as an employer, should take the lead in assuring those who are in the armed services that when they return special consideration will be given to them in their efforts to obtain employment. It is absolutely impossible to take millions of our young men out of their normal pursuits for the purpose of fighting to preserve the Nation, and then expect them to resume their normal activities without having any special consideration shown them.

The problems of readjustment will be difficult for all of us. They will be particularly difficult for those who have spent months and even years at the battlefronts all over the world. Surely a grateful Nation will want to express its gratitude in deeds as well as in words.

I believe that legislation relating to preference for veterans in positions in the Federal Civil Service should include, among others, the following points:

1. Authority should be granted, during the war and for a period of five years following the war, to restrict to veterans examinations for such positions as may, from time to time, be designated by the President. Those who are fighting for the life of the Nation today will, upon their return to civilian life, be in a position to make a unique contribution to the administration of Government. We should be in a position to take full advantage of this fact.

2. Where competition is not restricted solely to veterans, provision should be made for adding points to the earned ratings of veterans who compete for positions in the Federal Civil Service.

3. The Civil Service Commission should be given the authority to determine whether or not the reasons advanced by appointing officers for passing over veterans on lists of eligibles are valid. Furthermore, appointing officers should be required to consider the Commission's findings before filling vacancies. This will center in one agency the responsibility for determining whether or not a veteran is entitled to consideration for a particular job.

4. Veterans should be accorded special consideration in connection with any reductions in total personnel which it may be necessary for Federal agencies to work out from time to time.

It is my understanding that H. R. 4115, as introduced by the Honorable Joe Starnes of Alabama, is in substantial conformity with the principles above outlined. I sincerely hope, therefore, that this bill may receive the early and sympathetic consideration of the Congress.

Very sincerely yours,

Honorable Robert Ramspeck, Chairman, Civil Service Committee, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter on Preference for Veterans in Federal Employment. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under


Simple Search of Our Archives