Department of Labor

Federal employment for vets goal of council

The Interagency Council on Veterans Employment held its first meeting on Dec. 11 to discuss ways of expanding the participation of veterans in the nation's federal workforce. The meeting was co-chaired by Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis and VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, serves as the council's vice chair and chief operating officer.

Joining them were Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael J. Astrue, National Science Foundation Director Arden L. Bement Jr. and several other high-level representatives from agencies that combined comprise 97 percent of the federal workforce. The council aims to transform the federal government into a model of veterans' employment.

A draft strategic plan was discussed, which the council agreed to publish in January 2010. Additionally, the council decided to use the fiscal year 2008 Report on the Hiring of Veterans in the Federal Government as a baseline for measuring progress. Veterans' employment offices must be set up in most federal agencies by March 2010.

"At the U.S. Department of Labor, we are unwavering in our commitment to furthering the president's order to expand job opportunities for veterans in federal employment, and I am looking forward to working with Secretary Shinseki, Director Berry and our colleagues across the administration to make this initiative a success," Solis said.

The Interagency Council on Veterans Employment was established under President Barack Obama's Executive Order on the Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, which was signed into law Nov. 9. American Legion National Commander Clarence Hill attended the signing at the White House, calling the council "a decent start ... But there is more to be done. Still, the Executive Order certainly has great merit, though we will continue to fight for more such initiatives."

The council's next meeting is scheduled for March 2010.