Federal Diary: Government is living up to a promise to veterans

John McWilliam
John McWilliam
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By Joe Davidson
Friday, June 4, 2010

They were cheered at parades, and their fallen comrades were honored at wreath-laying ceremonies.

But now that the Memorial Day celebrations are a few days gone, veterans might be wondering: What have you done for me lately?

This is a good time to ask.

Next Wednesday marks six months since President Obama issued an executive order calling on the federal government to increase its hiring of vets.

So what has the administration done for veterans since then? It has created a three-year master plan for the program, set up veteran employment offices in each government agency and launched a Web site to help vets find jobs.

"I think things have moved very fast, very rapidly," said John McWilliam, a deputy assistant secretary of labor. "A tremendous amount of effort has been put into this."

The secretaries of labor and veterans affairs chair the Council of Veterans Employment created by Obama's order. It is charged with coordinating a government-wide effort to enhance the recruitment and training of vets to make them more employable by government agencies.

Part of that effort is in the form of a government-wide strategic plan, which was called for in the order. The Office of Personnel Management published it in January.

The plan puts meat -- in the form of goals, strategies and indicators of progress -- on the bones of the four areas that Obama deemed critical to veterans' employment: leadership commitment, skills development, marketing and an information gateway.

For example, one of the leadership strategies calls on administration officials to "create advocates for veterans' employment within each federal agency." All 24 agencies covered by the order have established a Veterans Employment Program, as the president directed, according to Ken Robbins, a White House fellow working as an assistant to OPM Director John Berry. Berry is vice chairman of the council.

"That aspect of it has been accomplished," said Robbins, who as an Army major could be considered a pre-veteran.

For veterans looking for government work, the Web site http://www.fedshirevets.gov is a good place to start.

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