The White House launched an effort Monday that it says will turn the government into a model employer of military veterans and possibly provide encouragement for private employers to do the same.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order creating the Council on Veterans Employment, part of an initiative to encourage federal agencies to recruit and train military veterans. The effort also aims to bring more veterans into the federal work force and help newly hired veterans adjust to working in a civilian environment.
The federal government will need to hire tens of thousands of workers in the coming years, in part because of the number of retirements expected among baby boomer federal workers.
There were approximately 480,000 veterans working for the government as of Sept. 30, 2008, the White House said, or about one-fourth of the 1.9 million-member work force.
Obama said veterans sacrifice and serve defending the country and that government and private employers should help them find jobs.
"Honoring our sacred trust with America's veterans means doing all we can to help them find work when they come home so they never feel as if the American Dream they fought to defend is out of reach for them and their families," Obama said.
"But this initiative is about more than repaying our debt for their courageous service and selfless sacrifice. It's also about continuing to fill the ranks of federal employees with men and women who possess the skills, dedication and sense of duty that Americans deserve from their public servants. And few embody those qualities like our nation's veterans," Obama said.
The Council on Veterans Employment, an interagency panel that will advise the president, will be chaired by the secretaries of Labor and Veterans Affairs.
The executive order also establishes special offices within most federal agencies that will be responsible for helping veterans identify job opportunities at those agencies, give veterans feedback on their employment application status and help them adjust to civilian life.
It also requires the Office of Personnel Management to develop a government-wide plan to put the initiative in place.