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Cleveland, Ohio - Under the direction of U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James, OPM staff experts continued Phase II of the Veteran Invitational Program (VIP) at the Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Cleveland, Ohio last week. The continued outreach efforts are part of Director James' goals of tapping the veteran talent pool to strengthen the Federal workforce and encourage the use of veterans' preference.
Director James stated, "These brave men and women have served this nation well and more than earned their preference in the Federal hiring process, as well as our respect and deepest gratitude. It is our duty to ensure that they are fully aware of the opportunities that await them in the U. S. Civil Service. The OPM professionals were in Cleveland to fully arm them with the right information and tools for their new job search."
"The information and training offered today was extremely helpful in teaching our veterans to navigate the Federal employment application process. We greatly appreciate the OPM Director Kay Coles James' veterans outreach program," said William Monteque, Director of the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center.
The OPM outreach group conducted seminars including a session which explained veterans' preference and veteran appointing authorities. Other seminars and workshops covered navigation of the usajobs.gov website, resume writing, interviewing skills and the Federal application process. One of the key take-home products was the OPM-produced DVD "What Veterans Need to Know About Veterans' Preference," a comprehensive 40 minute video seminar of veterans' preference rights and eligibilities.
There are also valuable online resources including the VetsInfo Guide which provides general information about how the system works and how veterans' preference and the special appointing authorities for veterans operate within the system. Also available is the VetGuide which gives detailed information about the special rights and privileges that veterans enjoy in Federal civil service employment.
The guide conveniently summarizes in one place material from many laws and regulations that affect the employment of veterans. In addition to the valuable guides several forms that are needed by veterans, including the SF-15 which is the application for 10-point veteran preference, are also available at opm.gov.
OPM aggressively reached out to veterans through Phase I of the VIP which was launched in August, 2003. In Phase I, OPM developed informational brochures and posters designed to raise the level of awareness among separating soldiers from the U. S. Armed Services. These materials were distributed to all major veteran service organizations and military separation offices throughout the country.
"The first phase was a tremendous success. In a survey on www.usajobs.gov, 80 percent of the veterans on the site learned about it through the VIP program," stated James. "This is the next logical step. The awareness is there, now we need to actively seek out veterans especially those returning from recent service. Veterans who know how the Federal hiring process works are far more inclined to apply and succeed."
OPM has worked with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to revise, simplify, and in many cases eliminate, the dozens of different form letters the agency had been using to document service-connected disabilities to determine preference. These letters (now in use by the VA) make it much easier for veterans to claim their preference and for agencies to accord it.
OPM also meets on a regular basis, with Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) to foster a partnership and address important issues that surround veterans' employment, incorporating feedback from VSOs into our veterans' hiring process.
Visits have already been made to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the Washington DC area as well as the Hampton, Virginia VAMC and Albany, New York VAMC. Additional visits are scheduled in September for Kansas City, Missouri, Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida and Minneapolis, Minnesota. In October, OPM teams plan to visit additional military installations.
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.