FACT CHECK: ‘Around 30 Percent Of Federal Workers Are Veterans’

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii claimed on Twitter Jan. 17 that “around 30 percent of federal workers are veterans.”

Verdict: True

Veterans make up 31 percent of the federal workforce, according to the latest data from the Office of Personnel Management.

Fact Check:

In 2009, former President Barack Obama signed an executive order that started a government-wide initiative to hire more veterans. “Veterans have served and sacrificed in defense of our Nation. When they complete their service, we must do everything in our power to assist them in re-entering civilian life and finding employment,” reads the order.

The initiative coincided with a rise in the number of veterans in the federal workforce. Nearly 26 percent of federal workers were veterans in fiscal year 2009, compared to 31 percent in FY 2016.

More than 85 percent of the roughly 636,000 veterans employed by the federal government in FY 2016 were considered “veterans with preference,” a designation that gives them a leg up over other applicants searching for government jobs. To receive preferred status, veterans must, among other conditions, have been active duty during certain conflicts or have a service-related disability. The designation helps veterans get hired, but does not factor into promotions.

The federal government employed about 259,000 disabled veterans in FY 2016, more than 40 percent of all veterans employed.

Veterans serve in a number of departments and agencies, but in sheer numbers, they are best represented in the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Some have argued that veterans’ strong representation in the federal government makes them especially susceptible to the effects of a government shutdown. The Union Veterans Council made this case during the recent shutdown that closed parts of the federal government for 35 days.

“This shutdown has consequences that go beyond the loss of pay. Financial instability is one of the main cause of suicides among the veterans’ community,” read a Jan. 7 statement from the group.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie suggested that this sentiment was being exaggerated.

“One of the most insulting and misleading stereotypes about veterans today is that of the ‘Veteran as victim’ … which is why Veterans and Veteran advocates are continuously fighting this shopworn canard,” Wilkie wrote in a letter at the time.

Congress has about a week to pass legislation funding the government, or another shutdown may be around the corner. President Donald Trump has insisted on $5.7 billion in border wall funding, something Democrats have rejected.

Trump warned last Friday that he may declare a national emergency in order to fund the border wall.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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