Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Veterans’ preference

Last updated: June 6, 2024

About veterans’ preference

In recognition of the sacrifices made by those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard), veterans receive some degree of preference in appointments to state jobs under Washington State law.

Individuals eligible for preference

A qualifying individual eligible for veterans’ preference when applying for state employment includes:

  • A veteran defined as every person who has received an honorable discharge, received a qualifying discharge as defined in RCW 73.04, and who has served in at least one of the following capacities:
    • As a member in any branch of the armed forces of the United States, including the national guard and armed forces reserves, and has fulfilled his or her initial military service obligation;
    • As a member of the women’s air forces service pilots;
    • As a member of the armed forces reserves, national guard, or coast guard, and has been called into federal service by a presidential select reserve call up for at least one hundred eighty cumulative days;
    • As a civil service crewmember with service aboard a U.S. army transport service or U.S. naval transportation service vessel in oceangoing service from December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946;
    • As a member of the Philippine armed forces/scouts during the period of armed conflict from December 7, 1941, through August 15, 1945; or
    • A United States documented merchant mariner with service aboard an oceangoing vessel operated by the department of defense, or its agents, from both June 25, 1950, through July 27, 1953, in Korean territorial waters and from August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975, in Vietnam territorial waters, and who received a military commendation.
  • Surviving spouses or registered domestic partners of eligible veterans
  • Spouses or registered domestic partners of veterans with a qualifying discharge who have a service connected permanent and total disability

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Applying veterans’ preference in hiring

  1. UW Human Resources (UWHR) will forward to departments all qualified and eligible candidates who meet the definition of qualifying veteran for preference. Veteran candidates to classified requisitions will be forwarded at the same time as bargaining unit applicants.
  2. Departments should give qualified veteran candidates as defined above strong consideration. Candidates who have indicated their qualifying veteran status are identified in the “Veteran” column on the Hiring Manager workbench requisition view in UWHIRES.
  3. Prior to making an offer, in the event there are two or more equally qualified candidates, and one candidate is a veteran, then the veterans preference will act as a tiebreaker.

Departmental hiring managers may with questions about the application of the veterans’ preference in hiring may contact their employment specialist for assistance.

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Applying preference in layoff

An eligible veteran receives preference in layoff by having their seniority increased for total active military service, not to exceed five years.
For the purposes of layoff seniority only, an eligible veteran includes:

  • Any permanent employee who has one or more years in active military service in any branch of the armed forces of the United States and has received, upon termination of such service, received a qualifying discharge as defined in RCW 73.04.
  • Any permanent employee who has less than one year’s service and is discharged with a disability incurred in the line of duty or is discharged at the convenience of the government
  • The surviving spouse or surviving registered domestic partner of an eligible veteran as outlined above, regardless of whether the veteran had at least one year of active military service.

An eligible veteran does not include anyone who as a veteran voluntarily retired, as evidenced by the “DD Form 214” or other official military records, with twenty or more years’ active military service and has military retirement pay in excess of five hundred dollars per month.

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