(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images) (George Frey/Getty Images)

The federal government set a 20-year high for hiring veterans last year, with nearly 29 percent of its new employees for 2012 being former military personnel who served during times of war, according to an announcement this week from the Office of Personnel Management.

The executive branch brought in about 195,000 new workers last year, of which about 56,000 were veterans, OPM said. That ratio represents an increase of about 0.6 percent over 2011.

Federal law requires agencies to give preference to veterans when making new hires. Additionally, President Obama issued an executive order in 2009 that focuses on increasing government-employment opportunities for such job seekers.

The percentage of new federal hires who are veterans has risen by almost 5 percent since 2009, OPM said.

Overall, nearly 30 percent of federal employees in 2012 were former military personnel who served during times of war. The ratio was 26 percent in 2009.

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