Legislation Would Eliminate Discrepancy Between State, Federal Definition of "Veteran"
(TRENTON) Legislation Assembly Democrats Herb Conaway, Paul Moriarty, Cleopatra Tucker and Troy Singleton sponsored to help more veterans secure employment in New Jersey was approved Monday by the General Assembly.
Because New Jersey does not use the federal definition of "veteran" in determining eligibility for preference in the state civil service system, some individuals who served in the military may be eligible for veterans preference in the federal civil service but ineligible at the state level.
"New Jersey can benefit from hiring veterans, who have excellent job skills and an unmatched work ethic," said Conaway (D-Burlington), who served in the U.S. Air Force Medical Corps. "If someone was willing to give his or her life for this nation, that person is a veteran. Our state shouldn't be letting the fine print be an obstacle during the hiring process."
While veterans are provided an absolute veterans preference when applying for a New Jersey civil service position, current New Jersey law requires veterans seeking preference in public employment who did not serve in World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War to have served for at least 14 days of active duty during a time of war. The sponsors note that this requirement disadvantages veterans who did not serve in combat roles during their time in the military.
"An effort to make New Jersey's hiring preference more inclusive can only help more of our nation's veterans continue to serve here at home," said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). "Everyone in the state can benefit from us encouraging those who served in the military to pursue careers as public employees."
"Veterans know what it means to work with a team, persevere through tough odds and carry themselves with honor and distinction, which makes them ideal candidates to be civil servants," said Tucker (D-Essex). "Revising the system to help give more veterans the opportunity to find work here in New Jersey is a win-win."
"We owe it to our veterans to make sure they can earn a living to take care of themselves and their families when they return to civilian life," said Singleton (D-Burlington). "If a veteran qualifies for preference at the federal level, there's no reason he or she shouldn't receive preference here in New Jersey."
The bill (A-1798) would expand eligibility for veterans' civil service preference. Under the legislation, five points would be added to the passing the Civil Service examination score of an individual who is not eligible for state veterans' hiring preference, but served:
- During the period December 7, 1941, to July 1, 1955; or
- For more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; or
- During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990 through January 2, 1992; or
- In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, including El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Southwest Asia, Bosnia and the Global War on Terrorism.
Ten points would be added to the passing examination score of an individual who is not eligible for state disabled veterans' hiring preference, but who served at any time and (1) has a present service-connected disability or (2) is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits or a pension from the federal military or the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In order for this legislation to apply to disabled veterans who did not service in a time of war, voters would need to approve a constitutional amendment.
The bill was approved X and now awaits final consideration by the full Senate.