Making the transition from military service to civilian employment can be challenging, but veterans interested in applying for federal government positions have a key advantage thanks to the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944.

Created as a way to recognize and honor the contributions of those who served, the Veterans’ Preference Act allows government agencies to show hiring preference to veterans—as well as spouses, widows, and mothers of veterans—over non-veteran applicants, provided the individuals meet certain eligibility criteria.

Who is eligible for veteran preference?

According to the VA, eligibility for veteran hiring preference depends on several factors, including dates of service, the nature of release or discharge, and whether or not a veteran was disabled during military service. For those who qualify, there are three categories of preference eligibility: 0-point preference, 5-point preference, and 10-point preference.

The 0-point preference category is reserved for sole survivorship, meaning a veteran was released or discharged from active duty on the basis of being the only surviving child in a family in which a parent or sibling served in the armed forces and was killed, is missing in action, or is 100% disabled.

The 5-point preference category applies to individuals who served on active duty during specific dates and do not have any service-connected disabilities, while the 10-point category refers to veterans with service-connected disabilities or those who were awarded a Purple Heart for injury in the line of duty.

You can read more about each category here.

How do I claim veteran preference?

If you wish to claim a 5-point or 10-point preference, you will need to provide a copy of your DD214, or Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. The DD214 is the document most often requested to show proof of service and honorable discharge, which means you’ll need a copy when applying for most veteran-aimed benefits.

For veterans who never received their DD214, or whose discharge documents have been lost, stolen, or damaged, you will need to request a replacement copy before you begin the veteran preference application process.

Not sure which DD214 copy you need to request? Click here for the answer.

Veterans claiming a 10-point preference will also need to fill out a Form SF-15, which provides additional documentation to support their eligibility claim.

Do non-government jobs offer veteran preference?

Many do, yes.

In 2011, the veteran unemployment rate reached a record high of 9.9 percent. Since then, more than two dozen states have stepped up and passed laws allowing private companies to offer hiring preference to veterans and military family members. Because eligibility requirements vary by state, it may require some added research into your specific state’s laws, but you’ll likely also need a copy of your DD214 to apply for a private sector job.

Veteran-owned DD214Direct helps you get the documents you need, when you need them.

Our cutting-edge technology platform and keen knowledge of government protocol and procedure allow us to deliver your documents faster than competitors. We physically stand in line at the records repository and manually coordinate your order, freeing up your time and easing your worries about whether or not you will get your DD214. Much like paying a small fee to have your taxes done by a professional, DD214Direct provides the service and convenience you’ve been hoping for, plus we make it a lot easier.

Instead of having to download, print, sign and fax your document request form, you can submit your order directly through our website with the ease of e-signature technology from a desktop, laptop or mobile device. Once we locate your DD214, we will email you a copy immediately—a service not offered by the government. And tracking your request through us is simple, so you never have to worry about long hold times and inconclusive answers.

Ready to get started? Click here to begin the order process.