VA Manager Says 'Thank God' They Don’t Have To Hire Veterans
Words by Luke Rosiak
A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hiring manager said in a sworn deposition “thank God” they don’t give veterans hiring preference for well-paying jobs.
The statement came when a VA dentistry chief was asked if being a veteran helps someone get a dentist job in the agency. His response was “not really. And thank God,” The Daily Caller News Foundation recently discovered in a court filing.
Being a scout master in the Boy Scouts would do more to help someone get a top job at the VA than serving in the armed forced, Dr. Gonzalo Solis Sanchez of the VA Caribbean Medical Center said.
He was speaking in a July 2014 deposition in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint brought by a dentist who is a veteran.
Q: What other factors are considered, aside from the ranking numbers that you award during the interview?
A: Well, probably the awards, recognition that the person has had. In this interview, I know that there was a section that we used, given to me by the chief of staff, that it was taken into consideration if this person was involved in outside activities, like, you know, being a scout master, or–
Q: Or a member of the Armed Forces?
A: Not really. I’ve been in the Armed Forces, and I was not selected for the position of chief in three occasions, so-
Q: So that doesn’t have any–
A: Not really. And thank God, because I am a veteran, and I prefer for selections to be made on preparation than — I’ve always heard here that in Title 38 positions, that is not taken into — that’s not the main title taken into consideration, or the main attribute taken into consideration. Like I told you … Okay, I was, I’m a veteran and…
Q: And they never did take that into consideration.
A: They never took that into consideration.
“Title 38” refers to the pay-grade for doctors working in VA. A Daily Caller News Foundation investigation previously found that, although government-wide, veterans are supposed to be given hiring preference, and VA boasts that one-third of the people it hires are veterans. This is misleading: At VA, vets usually get the worst, lowest-paying jobs — the only job reserved exclusively for veterans is janitor.
One cause is a provision in the union contract that says preference must be given to current federal employees — union members — for higher-paying and easier jobs, preventing them from even being advertised to the public unless no current VA employee wants a promotion.
That leaves only the jobs at the bottom of the totem pole available for veterans, the sole reason for the department’s existence.
Only 13 percent of VA hospital executives are veterans. Most executives are lifelong VA bureaucrats who have been promoted through the ranks. Employees have said that VA managers worry veterans will empathize with those they serve and be more likely to blow the whistle on behaviors that harm vets or put them second.
A Government Accountability Office report detailed the tensions between military members and union employees, with military men saying union members were more concerned with their rewards than getting the job done. Union members agreed that more work got done when military members were working.
VA Caribbean spokesman Axel Roman did not respond to a DCNF request for comment.
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