There are 15 million government jobs in this country. If
you want one of them and you're not a veteran, you would have a hard time.
That may have been all right 30 years ago; it's not all right now.
Veterans' preference is fair and just as a reward for prior
service. It would be wrong for us to renege on a promise we made to our
veterans and especially wrong to the Vietnam veterans who have suffered most
Good evening and welcome to The Advocates. I'm Michael
Dukakis. The issue of veterans' preference is one aspect of federal hiring
policy about which we've heard a great deal recently and I suspect about
which we're going to hear a great deal more in the future. Not only ar—, not
only is there a pending Supreme Court judgment, but there was a move by the
Carter administration last year to cut back on veterans' preference. That
effort failed but it may well be revived in the Congressional session which
is currently upon us.
We are not arguing tonight about whether or not veterans'
preference is constitutional. That issue will be decided by the Supreme
Court of the United States. We are debating, however, whether veterans'
preference, in its present form, is a fair and wise and just public policy.
Should we cut back veterans' preference on federal and state jobs to provide
more opportunity for women? Advocate Margaret Marshall says,
The purpose of veterans' preference is to help veterans
back into the civilian economy. Repeated use of that preference in a tight
job market is an abuse. With me tonight to explain why limiting veterans'
preference will be fair are Dr. Alan Campbell. Dr. Campbell is Director of
the Office of Personnel Management, formerly the Civil Service Commission;
and Virginia Dondy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force.
The government is the single largest employer in this
country. Federal, state, and local levels add up to more than 15 million
jobs. That government work force should be representative of its people, it
should not be hostage to the interest of any one special interest group. Our
proposal to limit veterans' preference will do two things: First, it will
concentrate job opportunities on those veterans who need it most—young
veterans, those from the Vietnam era and disabled veterans. They will not
have to compete with older veterans. Second, it will distribute government
jobs amongst minorities, women, veterans, men, amongst all citizens in a
more balanced and equitable manner.
Advocate Avi Nelson says, "No.
Veterans' preference should not be eliminated and it should
not be curtailed. To help me make this case tonight are two distinguished
witnesses, Gabby Hartnett, who is the National Director of Services for the
Disabled American Veterans; Congressman James Hanley, Democrat from New
York, who is the Chairman of the House Post Office and Civil Service
Well, tonight it's the girls against the boys. For years,
men were drafted into the armed forces—forced to go in to serve the country
and there were very few complaints from women's groups. Now some of the more
extreme women's groups have complained because the veterans have been
getting some preference that was promised to them.
Well, veterans' preference is as old as history itself. A
thousand years ago, veterans were given land. Today, they get some
preference for a civil service job. We in this country have made a
commitment to our veterans. We made a promise to them. We said, "In reward,
return, for this service, you will get certain preferences." it would be
wrong for us to renege on that promise. It will hurt the Vietnam veteran. It
will not help minorities. It really won't even substantially help hiring for
women. Therefore, we should not back down from our commitment. We do honor
to ourselves, to the people who serve this country and to the country by
keeping the veterans' preference that we promised and that we owe to the men
and women who distinguished themselves in service to our nation.
Thank you both. We'll be back to your cases in a moment;
but, first, a word or two about tonight's ba—, debate. I should explain at
the outset that states and state governments make their own rules and laws
about veterans' preference. But with rare exceptions, they tend to follow
federal policy very closely; and for that reason, we'll be discussing the
broad policy issue this evening and not a specific proposal that is before
the Congress. I should also explain, as I think some of you probably know,
that beginning with the establishment of the all volunteer army in 1976, the
people entering the military after the establishment of the all volunteer
army no longer get veterans' preference. So, we're talking about veterans
from a time before the establishment of that all volunteer army in 1976. And
finally, I think it's important to note that the cutback that we're talking
about this evening will not affect disabled veterans. Those with a
disability will continue to receive a preference in hiring under the
proposal that we debate this evening. Now let's get on with our cases.
Margaret Marshall, the floor is yours.
I call Dr. Alan Campbell.
Welcome to The Advocates, Dr. Campbell. Nice to have you
Thank you very much, Governor.
Dr. Campbell, what's the purpose of veterans'
Veterans' preference, like other veterans' benefits
programs such as the Education Program, is to help in the transition from a
period in the military back into civilian life. It was never intended to be
a lifetime right but rather as a means of an appropriate aid to people who
served their country for a period of time in their lives.
And when was the current legislation enacted or the main
body of the legislation?
We've had some form of veterans' preference for a long
time. The current legislation is from 1944.
This reintegration effort -- has it worked?
There's no question that veterans' preference has worked
remarkably well. Over nearly 50 percent of the federal work force is made up
of veterans of whom 98 percent are male. That is in contrast to about 25
percent of the civilian work force being in that category, being veterans.
So, the veterans' preference system has clearly been perhaps the most
effective affirmative action program we've ever had. And for that, I think
we should be grateful. But on the other hand, there are other groups who
also need assistance due to certain societal problems; and veterans'
preference in its current form stands in the way of that.
If this affirmative action program has worked so well, why
do you want to change it now?
Well, we want to change it because it does serve as a
handicap to making the work force representative of our total population,
both in relation to women and in relation to minorities. Secondly, it is
inconsistent with the concept of having the best qualified serve. No one is
suggesting that the veterans who are in the government are not qualified.
But, our system is based on open competition with the best qualified getting
the jobs, when you add points to people's score, which is in addition to
what they actually scored, you obviously end up with a system that does not
fit that role. And I might point out that it is, it is really dramatic. For
example, a woman scored 100 on the air controller exam in Dallas; and after
veterans' preference was applied, she ended up 147th on the list.
Dr. Campbell, if we were to enact the proposals that we've
suggested tonight, that is, the one-time use of the preference; we're not
doing away with the preference, but it could be used once within 15 years
after discharge from the service, what impact do you think that's going to
have on Vietnam veterans—the most concerned group of veterans?
There's no question that it will greatly help those people
who served in Vietnam and who have been discharged within the past recent
Why do you say that?
I say that because currently there is great competition
for those veterans from veterans who—, who left the service earlier. Nearly
40 percent of the use of veterans' preference to acquire jobs is by veterans
who left the military service before 1960. So, and that is why, by the way,
that many Vietnam veterans* groups supported our legislation as did the
Vietnam Caucus in the House of Representatives. Here clearly is legislation
that is designed not only in relation to women and minorities but also for
Dr. Campbell, let me interrupt for a second. It was that
legislation, I think, which went to the House floor and then, I believe, was
defeated by the House last year, is that correct?
That is right. After having—, after having passed in the
Committee where it was given very self—, very careful consideration by a
vote of 16 to 9, it then did not pass on the House floor although it was a
relatively close vote not shown by the final vote, I should point out,
because of changing votes at the last minute.
But that was the administration proposal.
That was the administration proposal, yes.
Dr. Campbell, we've heard about the impact on Vietnam
veterans. What about the impact on women? Mr. Nelson is arguing that women
won't benefit, and it's just a few extremist groups who are advocating this
limitation. What do you think would happen?
Well, certainly a good number of people disagree on that
because we had the support of the American Association of University Women,
not notably radical, I might point out, and, as well as many other groups.
The fact is it obviously would help women because if you look at, for
example, the PACE exam, the beginning professional exam used for of nearly a
hundred occupations, approximately 29 percent of the veterans take it, pass,
41 percent veterans are hired. In contrast, approximately 41 percent of the
women pass it and something like 31 percent are hired. So you just reverse
the numbers in relationship to the—, when the application of veterans'
preference is made.
Let me interrupt at this point. You'll have an opportunity
to ask some additional questions, Miss Marshall; but let's go now to Mr.
Nelson who has questions for you, Dr. Campbell.
Mr. Campbell, if the intent of the 1944 legislation was
that it was going to be time-limited or was going to be a transition, why is
it there's no limit written into the legislation?
For the same reason there isn't in a lot of legislation
because, and if you look at the legislative history, you will note that that
issue was not even debated.
Well, but isn't it true that in the GI bill, the GI
Insurance Vocational Rehabilitation Program, there were time provisions
written in at the time?
Yes. And on occasion it is true the time limitation is
written in. On the other hand, you take farm subsidy legislation, if there
is farm subsidy and you buy a farm based on that, and the—
Well—, but this is—
—subsidy changes/ you do not end up being rewarded for
that. I mean—
Fine. But this is—
Congress—. One Congress cannot commit another Congress,
and therefore, it is perfectly legitimate for a legislation to be changed as
I think Congress commit Congress, other future Congresses
on occasion. But let me go back to the point—we're not talking farm
subsidies; we're talking about this particular veterans' preference
legislation. Clearly, the Congress had in mind, because they put in time
provisions in certain areas and not in others, that they were going to
differentiate between the two. They specifically left out of veterans'
preference legislation any considerations of time.
It's very hard, it seems to me, to interpret Congress
action when they did not act that they meant to act in relationship to
In fact, that is not the case. They did not take a stand
in relation to that matter in the legislation—
They certainly did in similar legislation. Let me, let me
go on though. In terms of the questions of interpretation here, you seem to
think that veterans' preference is to be some kind of trans—, a transition
period to get the veteran back into society. Isn't that possible, however,
that the interpretation of Congress and others that it is a reward for prior
service and should not be treated merely as a transition?
I do not believe that service in the military should be
something in which one receives a lifetime reward for having served his
country. It seems to me the country has an obligation, the country has an
obligation to aid in terms of transition back to civilian life.
You would recognize the alternative point of view,
however, that it does exist.
I will recognize that there are people who think that
should be the case.
Among them are many veterans. Would you say that we are in
the dangerous area of reneging on a promise to them? After all, when they
became veterans, when they went into the service, they thought that they
were going to have veterans' preference as it was written in the law at the
time that would hold for a lifetime. It would not be limited to 15 years; it
would not be limited to a one-time usage. Don't you think that we as a
country ought not to break a commitment that we have made to these
Well, you keep getting back to the commitment issue, and I
would simply argue that that legislation does not represent a lifetime
commitment when in fact the legislation it was designed for in World War II
was essentially legislation related to a transition to civilian life. And
let's remember that when preference is given to one group, it obviously has
to be at the expense of other groups. Now, there are times to do that. There
is a right time to do that in relationship to when the need is greatest. The
question is, "Should that be forever?" And remember that Congress has
changed its mind in relationship to those who now serve in the military
because there is no preference following tho—, for those who entered after
You talk about preference to other groups. Isn't it true
that the people who serve in the Peace Corps; VISTA; ACTION; they get
special treatment? As a matter of fact, they have a right to apply for a job
and can by-pass the competitive exam completely; and they can use this
special preference time and time again.
There is for those who served in the Peace Corps a
noncompetitive interest into the federal service. There is also a similar
program for Vietnam era veterans who can enter noncompetitively and after
two years' satisfactory service move along to a permanent job.
But I'm curious that you have not advocated the
elimination of this kind of priority treatment for Peace Corps, ACTION,
VISTA people. Don't you think that the soldiers who subjected themselves to
danger, the risk of being killed or disabled should get at least that kind
I—. As far as I'm concerned that once the Peace Corps
preference period has reached as much as it has for the veterans, I would
very much favor eliminating the Peace Corps preference. It seems to
But as it stands now, you prefer to eliminate the
veterans' preference and retain the preference given to Peace Corps , VISTA
The Peace Corps and VISTA preference is, is quite new; and
certainly there will come a time when that, too, should be adjusted to fit
with new problems and new realities.
Mr. Campbell, didn't you point out in some testimony of
yours that if you really wanted to help women, you're going to have to
eliminate, in effect, the disabled veterans' preference as well?
No, I never said that; and the fact is, that obviously the
disabled veterans' preference does provide a, a leg up on jobs relative to
other people—women or nonveterans or non-disabled veterans. We, we genuinely
accept the obligation of the country to the disabled veterans. We do not
advocate any change in preference for disabled veterans. And in fact, in the
legislation, we supported a substantial expansion of preference for disabled
veterans. Again, the issue is very clear. It's "Do you focus aid, or do you
provide aid to everybody in some broad category?"—
You talked about those who served in, in battlefield
situations. Remember, the veterans' preference is a great majority of those
who can use it and never served in a battlefield situation.
Dr. Campbell, I have a feeling Mr. Nelson has a
quote of yours he wants to ask you. Unfortunately, Mr. Nelson, we have run
out of time in this segment of our program; and we're going to have to go
back to Miss Marshall for some additional questions. Perhaps we'll reach it
The example you gave of the woman in Dallas who had scored
a perfect score and ended up 147th on the list, are you suggesting by that
that our federal civil service is not staffed by qualified people?
Not—- In no way at all. There's no question that the
federal work force is one of the best qualified work forces in this country
and in the world. It's a relative issue, and there's no question that if
matters unrelated to qualifications could do the job are taken into account,
that has an impact. But much more important than that is that among those
qualifications which should be taken into account is the need for a
representative work force that clearly represents the country. When you
have, for example, in the 10,000 top federal management jobs 94 percent
white male, you have a problem in terms of representativeness; and it is
that kind of problem that I think this country has an obligation to
You—. Do you think that young college graduates,
nonveterans, men and women, are being accepted into the federal civil
service at the moment?
Our—, our brightest young people, in other
There certainly is a problem in relationship to that
because of the operation of the, of the preference system. And the result
inevitably is that, in my judgment, the federal government is getting fewer
of those brightest and best — many of them trained right here—because of the
I've got to interrupt at this point. Dr. Campbell,
thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate it.
Thank you, sir.
It's time now for Mr. Nelson and his first witness. Mr.
I call Mr. Gabby Hartnett.
Welcome to The Advocates, Mr. Hartnett. Nice to
have you with us.
Mr. Hartnett is the National Director of Services of the
Disabled American Veterans. Mr. Hartnett, are women being hurt by veterans'
preference as has been alleged?
In our view, not at all, in that they are being hired at
least in the last three years, federally, at the rate of 42 percent, which
is in excess, in excess of their representation in the labor force. Further,
in the general schedule positions, which are professional, administrative,
and clerical, they comprise 45 percent of those federal employees.
Out of curiosity, how does that compare to the hiring of
veterans in percentage terms?
In the last three years, veterans' hiring has been reduced
from about 32.7 percent to 27 percent in the most recent year, so that women
have maintained a constant 42 percent; veteran hiring has been
What about on the higher jobs—representation for
The representation in the higher jobs, admittedly, is very
low, with the exception of entry level. At Grade GS-9, which is your
professional and administrative personnel, women have entered in 1977,
3,323; veterans, only two more—3,325.
Now, this so-called lack of representation or
under-representation, is that due to veterans' preference?
It may be due in part to veterans' preference, but
veterans' preference as it applied after World War II, when 13 million
veterans came back after honorable service, competed without many women in
the labor force, I might add, for the federal positions; and those veterans
who gained experience, who had greater educational levels, are the ones
today who occupy the high positions—by promotion.
—And incidentally, there is no preference in promotion in
the federal service.
So what you're saying is that the women who want entry at
the high level in effect don't want to pay the dues, the long tenure of
service. And I would raise also the question about education. Isn't there a
difference in terms of the educational level for men and women?
—the educational requirements at the higher
The collective educational level of men is greater than of
women, but in recent years, women have been catching up—both educationally
and in representation in the federal employment work force.
Mr. Hartnett, if we were to adopt the proposal suggested
by the other side tonight, who would get hurt?
The young Vietnam era veteran who went over there,
subjected himself to being shot, may have come back without wounds, but was
there. He's the one that would be hurt. World War II veterans are 59;
they're not looking for work. They're looking for retirement. Korean
veterans are 49; they're at the mid level of their careers.
But you just heard Mr. Campbell testify that the Vietnam
veteran would be benefited by this because it would cut down the
Well, Mr. Campbell and Civil Service people have said that
there's a pool of 30 million veterans against whom Vietnam era veterans
compete. There is no pool of 30 million veterans seeking federal
You're a representative of the D.A.V.—Disabled American
Veterans. Now, the proposal put forward does not touch the disabled
veterans. Wouldn't it be in your interest to support this proposal; and then
the disabled vets wouldn't have to compete against the so-called
five-pointers, the non-disabled vets.
If—. If we were to be very selfish, the answer would be
"Yes." But justice has to prevail. The non-disabled veteran has earned five
points. The disabled veteran has an earned entitlement of ten points. We
have no quarrel with that. We have no quarrel with the upward mobility
programs for women, which has been one of the major reasons why they are now
advancing in federal employment.
Will minorities be hurt by this?
No. As a matter of fact, minority veterans bore a
disproportionate brunt of the battle in Vietnam and they need the most help.
They don't need any curtailment or elimination of their preference. It may
take them years to get job-ready.
Let me interrupt at this point and let's turn now
to Miss Marshall, Mr. Hartnett, who has some questions for you.
Mr. Hartnett, I want to see if we can identify exactly who
this class of people is who are getting such assistance. And, I just want to
make sure the people understand that a five-point preference on a score of
100, when there are many women who score 95 and above, is quite a
significant increase. So we're talking about a substantial benefit. Now
you've talked and Mr. Nelson has talked about people who served in combat.
What about the music player who gets, who enlists and who plays a trumpet
for three years?
The man who dons a uniform has no control over his
destiny. He doesn't know where he's going to be sent or when he's going to
That's fine. So, if he happens to be in the United States
playing a trumpet for three years, you still think that he should have
preference over a woman, for example, who has been working in the federal
service in the civil capacity?
While he's been away performing military service, that
woman may have been here furthering her education and her career and perhaps
getting a job while he was on active military service.
So, by performing military service, you mean everything.
So—, anybody who dons a uniform gets this preference.
That means, for example, that many of the sports players;
and there have been tennis players who do nothing but ride the circuits
advancing their career, now that you mention it—do those people still need a
preference when they are discharged from the service?
In my judgment, yes. You need recreational pursuits in
the military/ just as you need them in civilian life.
So if you do nothing but pursue recreational pursuits
albeit competitively for the Army or the Navy or the Air Force, you should
get a preference over every single nonveteran as soon as you try to enter
But I, I must remind you that some of the tennis players
and the football players were over in Vietnam and some of them got
That's correct. So, what you seem to be suggesting to me
is one of the reasons why people in the military should be given special
preference over other American citizens is because they somehow have their
lives at risk. Is that correct?
They certainly do. And not only that, they have maybe
sacrificed in terms of removal from their family, from their normal
pursuits, the opportunity to early advance in their career.
Okay, let's ju—, let's just take those one at a time.
Take the risk factor, for example. Would you say that a veteran who had
actually served in combat—in Vietnam there was about 20 percent of the
Vietnam era veterans—that—, a veteran who has served in combat, who's been
on the battlefield, should get a greater preference than somebody who wasn't
subjected to that risk?
It's more than 20 percent, incidentally. But I say, "No,"
because, again, you have no control over your destiny when you enter the
service. You agree to serve wherever sent.
Now, it's only if you, if you risk in the military. What
about the people in a war effort, for example, there are coal miners. A war
effort in this country in World War II simply could not have gone on the
same way if there hadn't been coal miners.
Coal miners are subject to just as many accidents. Do you
think they should get a preference?
Would you say that military people are somehow
Military people are definitely special. Coal miners made
good wages. They weren't subject to military discipline. They had many more
freedoms than soldiers and sailors did.
Let me just move on to one of the other points that you
made. You have suggested that it's not only risk; it's that people were
moved from their families and their work situation. Would you differentiate
between somebody who goes into the Army as a high school graduate and comes
out as a computer technician, having clearly benefited educationally, gets
military service credit for the years that he spent in the service; do you
think that he should be given the same preference as for a, example, a
physician who goes in and acts as a gunner and does nothing to promote his
So you make absolutely no distinction whatsoever between
people who are promoted professionally while they're in service and those
who are not.
I make no distinction, nor did the administration in
advancing Civil Service reform. They would take away preference from all
Vietnam era veterans.
I think what will happen is that you will find that the
programs, for example, the Veterans Readjustment Act, is directed towards
those people who themselves need the most assistance—let me suggest it this
way. In order to exercise this preference, you have to pass the entry level
examination, is that not correct?
Not under the V.R.A.
But, in leaving aside the V.R.A., which is only for
Vietnam- era veterans, --
For the benefit of those of us who don't know
what the V.R.A. is, what is the V.R.A.?
Veterans Readjustment Authority for Vietnam era
The V.R.A. aside, you do have to pass a competitive
examination; be qualified before points are added.
So this preference is exercised, this righteousness, Mr.
Nelson has called it, this, this merit, is exercised by people who can pass
an examination. The people who cannot pass that examination have no such
right, is that correct?
Mr. Hartnett, you have talked about Vietnam veterans.
Would you be in favor of eliminating Vietnam's preference for all the
veterans except Vietnam veterans?
You can't distinguish between wars. And the statute is
very clear that it applies to all war veterans.
But I thought that you said that in fact it really didn't
make any difference, that the older veterans were really not competing. If
your intention is really to help the Vietnam veterans, why is it that they
should have to compete with older veterans who have had an opportunity to
use the preference over and over and over again?
A brief answer please, Mr. Hartnett.
I'm glad—, I'm glad you asked that question because in
1977, 70 percent of the veteran appointments were Vietnam era.
Thank you, Mr. Hartnett.
Let's turn to Mr. Nelson now for a few additional
questions. Don't go away Mr. Hartnett. Your own advocate has another
opportunity to ask you a question.
Mr. Hartnett, would it be safe to say that most people
who go into the armed forces don't spend their time playing tennis or
football or lounging around in recreational pursuits?
Absolutely. That's the vast minority.
Would it—, would it also be safe to say that the proposal
put forward by the other side is not trying to get at the tennis players and
the football players; that's not the injustice that they want to
In no way specifically.
What do you think is the motivation behind this
Well, I think it's another one of the anti-veteran
gestures of this administration. I go back to the first day of the
President's term in office when he pardoned draft dodgers and deserters and
commended cowardice and dishonored veterans. I go back to an effort to
blanketly upgrade the discharges of those ex-servicemen who had received bad
conduct and undesirable discharges.
Are you implying there may be future cuts in other
veterans' programs also?
Yes. And there is today, there is a cut, a drastic cut,
in the Veterans Administration medical care budget.
Mr. Hartnett, I've got to drop in at this point
and tell you that it is now time for us to wind up.
Thank you very much.
For those of you who may have joined us late, our
question tonight is, "Should we cut back veterans' preference for state and
federal jobs to provide more opportunity for women?" Advocate Margaret
Marshall has presented her first witness, Dr. Alan Campbell, who has argued
that the present system does discriminate against women and minorities, that
it doesn't provide us with the best qualified people, and that a very
substantial modification of the present system is now very much in
On the other hand, advocate Avi Nelson has presented his
first witness, Mr. Gabby Hartnett, representing the disabled veterans, who
has argued that by virtue of the fact that one enters military service, one
ought to be entitled to some preference, that one's life is at risk, that
one's career is at risk, and that we should make no distinctions between
veterans because by virtue of that service, they are entitled as a matter of
appreciation and reward to this kind of preference for service in, in
federal employment. We're now going to move on to Mr. Nelson's next witness.
And Mr. Nelson, you're on with another witness.
I call Congressman James Hanley.
Welcome to The Advocates, Congressman Hanley.
Nice to have you with us.
Thank you. Governor.
Congressman Hanley is a Democrat from New York and is the
Chairman of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee. Congressman,
why are you opposed to limiting veterans' preference?
Well, very simply, on the basis of principle. Our nation
was founded on integrity, and I would hope very much that we would always
adhere to it. And I was astounded at the administration position when it was
But you heard Mr. Campbell and Mrs. Marshall argue that
we really still are going to have some veterans' preference if their
proposal is adopted. Isn't that good enough?
Well, with due respect to the remarks of both—entirely
fallacious. The proof is in the pudding. And this issue was debated hotly in
the Congress. And I take issue with what was said earlier here tonight—the
implication being that when this measure was voted on in the Congress, that
it was a cliffhanger. But for what it's worth in the Senate, there was but
one Senator who voted against veterans' preference; 89 of them voting for
retention of pre—, present law. And what happened in the House? But 20
percent of the House voted against veterans' preference. These are the
representatives of the people talking and deciding this issue after a great
deal of deliberation.
Congressman, in your opinion, why is it that we gave
veterans veterans' preference in the first place?
It has been historic since day one in this country,
whenever we have entered into a hostile period which required our calling
our people to service, we were going to reward them for their service to the
very—, to the military establishment. It has been traditional; we talked
about the time limitation today. The issue never became apparent from the
very beginning, on through to World War I; it wasn't an issue. It wasn't an
issue between World War I and World War II, from World War II to Korea; it
wasn't an issue. It wasn't an issue from World War II to Vietnam. And now
come the Latter-day Saints. Who say it’s an issue.
Why? Why is now all of a sudden the time when this has
been brought up as an issue?
Well, I can only conclude this; and this happens to be my
private, humble op—, opinion. In the course of that campaign, our President,
my President, and I'm somewhat disappointed in this regard—
Did you vote for him?
He said something, my close friend, if you will, said
some things about what he was going to do for the women in America. And in
these three years, I haven't seen that much movement. We have two cabinet
appointees—women. Some brain truster over in the White House two years ago,
or so, come up with an idea, whereas we would create something that would
give the impression that we're going to be doing a lot for women and
—And candidly, that's what it's all about.
I understand the President is a Democrat. Did you vote
for him last time?
Yes, I did. He's my President.
I won't put you on the spot about next time.
We all have our shortcomings.
Congressman, you talked about-
One final question Mr. Nelson.
I beg your pardon?
One final question.
You talked about an attempt on the part of the White
House to help women. Do you think that this piece of legislation, if passed,
as proposed, would help women?
No, it wouldn't. The problem of women is a societal one.
From the standpoint of career employment, let us take the federal
government. Realize this, that 60 percent of the jobs in the federal
government rating GS-15 or above, all have—, all of the employees have
advanced degrees, mind you.
Let us take at uh education—, a look at education
statistics in America. For the year of 1974, of the 34,000 advanced degrees
allowed in that year, but 6 percent went to women. In 1973, what was the
percentage of law degrees that went to women? Eight percent. That's the
problem with regard to employment of women. It isn't the matter of veterans'
preference. This is but a sham.
Gentlemen, let me interrupt at this point.
Congressman, Mr. Nelson will have an opportunity to ask you a few more
questions; but let's now go to Miss Marshall please, Congressman.
Congressman Hanley, if you were flying into Dallas, who
would you rather have at the air controller seat—the best qualified person
or a lesser qualified person who happened to be a veteran?
If you are implying, my good friend—
I'm not implying a thing; I asked you a
If you are implying that the veteran is a less qualified
person, I would take that as an insult to the veterans' community.
You can—. Congressman Han-
And I take that to heart, and I mean it.
You can take that any way you want to take it.
You know, you seem to forget, my dear—
I don't forget a thing, Congressman Hanley,
—you forget that we're talking but about 5 percent in the
way of preference points.
Five percent. And you tend to look upon that as
all-encompassing, as though that determines the absolute qualifications of
When you talk about a pilot flying a plane and that fact
that he or she, whatever the case might be, by virtue of his
What if it's a she? If it's a he like you are, I'd rather
it were a she, frankly.
Congressman, let me ask you this. Well, let me put it
this way, I'm somewhat pleased that you're not the Democrat in my district;
because I don't think I'd vote for you 'cause your proposal is going to
bankrupt government. You're saying that we can't change veterans' preference
because it's a right. What about all the other public policies? Can we never
change a public policy?
Of course. Public policy is constantly subject to change.
However, when our nation makes a commitment, perhaps you've said some—,
heard something through the years—. How long have you been in this country,
may I ask you?
I've been a long time, and I—
May I ask you how many years have you have been in this
Congressman Hanley, I am a citizen of the United States,
I have lived here—. I have lived in this country for 11
And I think I am
You've heard something about Full Faith and Credit of the
I'm also an attorney of this Commonwealth.
Yes. You've heard something about Full Faith and
—of the federal government? Well that's what it's all
about. That's the principle that we're dealing with.
I understand the princ—
—That when the federal government makes a commitment, it
makes a commitment that it's going to adhere to.
I understand that you want to make sure that it does
adhere to that commitment. What about the commitment to farmers who were
promised agricultural subsidies and who may go bankrupt when the subsidies
are withdrawn? Can we not alter that public policy?
The federal government has fulfilled all of its committe—
commitments to the farmers. In every instance, every law that has been
passed for the duration of that authorization, that commitment has been and
continues to be fulfilled.
Congressman Hanley, what you're telling me is we can
commit ourselves to spend funds and then commit ourselves to spend more
funds, and then commit ourselves to spend more funds; and there's no way
under the Full Faith and Credit law that we can cut back on funds. Is that
what you're saying?
You’re switching to a philosophy.
No, I'm not switching to philosophies, Sir.
You're switching to philos—spending philosophy.
I'm not switching to—
The issue is veterans' preference.
The issue is veterans' preference. The issue is one of
public policy. What is the public policy here?
Public policy has been preferential treatment for this—,
from the standpoint of employment for veterans. That has been national
You're suggesting that they have—
They—. You're suggesting that veterans, for some reason,
have a lifelong right to federal employment which other citizens don't have.
Could I just examine that for one moment? Why do you think they have the
It has been traditional in this country, and until the
law happens to be changed, and Congress had the opportunity to change that
law in the 95th Congress—
And it will have the opportunity to change
—overwhelmingly it, it opted not to change the
How many women are there in Congress?
There are 17 in Congress.
And how many of those 17 voted against this modification?
I couldn't tell you how many.
Not one. Not one, Sir. And perhaps when we have 50
percent representation in Congress, we may have an amendment for veterans'
Congressman Hanley, let me ask you about a few other
people who are benefiting from the veterans' preference law. There are, I
understand it, approximately 142,000 double dippers. Double dippers are
people who retire on full military pension, then exercise their preference
and get a job in the federal Civil Service. Do you think they should be
exercising their preference?
Not necessarily so. And that matter was in a degree taken
care of, whereas those with the rank of major or above no longer enjoy that
The 142,000 doesn't, doesn't reflect the major or above.
That is the, the now-existing figure of people who have exercised
That was the law of the land.
You have to concur with the law of the land.
I have to break in at this point. I'm sorry;
we're going to go back to Mr. Nelson for a question or two. Mr.
Thank you. Congressman, there is an implication here
about qualifications of the veteran. Isn't it true that everybody, including
veterans, must first pass the test before the preference is
No question. The person has to pass the test.
In terms of the people who get preference in society, I
ask again about the Peace Corps and VISTA and ACTION—people who volunteer—I
emphasize, in those programs—men and women—get a life-long preference system
to, to live with when they come back. Is that not so?
Under current provision, and as you mentioned earlier, I
believe there isn't any movement at all that would take that preferential
treatment away from that.
Can I have one last question in terms of the men verses
women in this, in this debate, now is it not true that the draft was
instituted by the Congress for dominantly male, yet only men were drafted?
The E.R.A. was passed by the male-dominated Congress, so that it's not
always a matter of chauvinism and a battle of the sexes.
The gentleman is quite correct.
Thank you, Congressman.
On that note, gentlemen, thank you very much for
being with us. All right, let's turn back now to Miss Marshall for her
second and last witness.
I call Virginia Dondy.
Welcome to The Advocates, Miss Dondy. Nice to
have you with us; appreciate it.
Governor, thank you very much.
Miss Dondy, you're a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the
Air Force; and I take it that you're in a position to monitor some of the
hiring situations in the Department of Defense. Based on your perspective,
what have you seen has been the impact of veterans' preference in the area
of hiring minorities and women?
In the Department of Defense, and particularly, my
department, the Department of the Air Force, has historically been kept from
hiring minorities and women. We have—
How does that happen?
We have over 60 percent of our Agency which are veterans.
The hiring situation, just for—, to take a moment, because the federal
system is a bit strange; it has grade schedules one through eighteen. The—,
when one hires into a job category, that job category has a test or
classification that requires so many skills that go with it; and there's a
scoring that goes with it. On top of that scoring is the preference—the
five-point or the ten-point that gets added.
What's the impact of that?
If one in the secretarial field, for instance, if one is
at a GS-6 or 7 level, and one goes from a 6 or 7, that's a promotion. If one
moves from a clerical position to a secretarial position, that is a new hire
situation. Each time we go into a new hire situation, we are time and again
confronted with veterans' preference that is on—, preventing us from hiring
minorities and women.
Do I understand you correctly then that the veterans'
preference is not exercised just in the first hire basis? The other side has
made great weight of the fact that promotion doesn't come into play. But
each time somebody alters their job classification/ they can exercise their
That's absolutely right.
What do you think the impact would be, as you view it
from inside the Department of Defense, if the proposal such as the one that
we're debating tonight were passed—the one-year, the one-time to be
exercised within 15 years?
I think that the effect would be to give minorities and
women an equal opportunity at the jobs that the Department of Defense has
available. It would give them no special preference, but it would get them
an equal opportunity at those jobs.
Do you think that that equal opportunity is going to be
at the expense of Vietnam veterans, which is what we've heard this
No, the administration's proposal with respect to the
Vietnam, veterans really would give them greater preference. It would reduce
the number of veterans competing for the job slots. Therefore, the Vietnam
veterans would have as much as an opportunity for those jobs as the
minorities and women would have.
So you would not agree with the suggestion that has been
made this evening that the reason why this proposal has been advocated is
because we want to forget about the war and turn our backs on the Vietnam
Absolutely not. This President has been very committed to
the Vietnam veterans. He has improved the benefits. He has improved the, the
benefits going to the Vietnam veterans, especially the, the disabled
veterans. Time and again he has proved his commitment to the
And it is his very interest in the veterans that has
brought forth this proposal. He is also a very brave Pres—, President to the
extent that he has attempted to balance public policy. He has seen the need
to support women and minorities at a time when they have been discriminated
against for years, along with the opportunities that he wants to provide for
the veterans. And he has tried to strike a balance in the proposal that he's
What do you think of Congressman Hanley's position that
this is a broken promise—it's a commitment that we're not
I don't look at the veterans' preference as a promise. It
is a public policy and a very fine public policy, one which we may have to
look to again at some point in time. But it's a pol—, policy enacted in
1944, which, I think, needs reflection and attention. The purpose of that
Act was to reintegrate veterans into society. That pur—, public policy has
been more than successful.
And would that be successful now if the proposals were
enacted? Would the, would the principle of reintegration into civilian life
It would give the opportunity to the Vietnam veterans to
have that reintegration opportunity many fold over, yes.
Let me interrupt at this point. Mr. Nelson is
going to ask some questions, and then we'll be back to Miss Marshall for
some additional questions, Miss Dondy. Mr. Nelson—
Miss Dondy, if the, this program is going to be so
worthwhile for the Vietnam veterans, why is it that the National Association
of Concerned Veterans, the largest group of Vietnam veterans, came out
Well, there's disagreement among all people, and we can
Frankly there is,
But there were also a number of Vietnam veterans groups
that supported it; and as Mr. Campbell has mentioned earlier, the Vietnam
veterans in the House did give it their support.
You work for the Air Force but you're not a veteran, is
I'm not a veteran either. Why is it that you think
veterans' preference discriminates more against you than against
I think that the veterans' preference gives an advantage
to individuals that sets them apart for—, that those opportunities in the
That's what preference means. I mean, that's what it's
supposed to do. It's supposed to give them a preference in return for
service. Why do you think it discriminates more against you than against
me—against women than against men who are not veterans?
Well, there are a limited number of job opportunities for
which everyone is competing, the extent to which those opportunities are
made available to people time and again who have already had the opportunity
to readjust into society. It discriminates against—'
Miss Dondy, you're not answering my question. I asked you
why you think it discriminates more against women than against men—against
you than against me. Why?
It prevents the women from having any sort of job
opportunities. At my Agency—
But why more than men?
In my Agency, in my Agency, there is no opportunity—. The
principle reason why discrimination against men over women, excuse me, women
over men, is—, there haven't been women in the military historically; so we
First of all, of course there were some women who are
There was a cap on the number of women who could come
into the military. It was said that—
That's true. There is a 2 percent quota.
Was that quota ever reached?
That quota was reached, yes.
No, it was not reached. I beg to differ with you. The
quota for women was never reached. So, that in spite of the fact that there
was a cap, the women never reached that quota; and not only that, I would
ask you was there an outcry of women's groups, challenges in the court, to
get rid of that quota so that women could participate on an equal footing
with men in the armed forces?
Yes, there has been an outcry for women to try and
There was the first time—
But the 2 percent cap was met, and in fact, the figure
that reflects that there was less than that reflects that there was a less
percent in existence before the 2 percent; and it is an average figure that
results in that 2 percent being less.
The 2 percent was not met, and I would point out to you
that the challenge to the, for the 2 percent came in 1970. Where was it for
the 25 years pre—, prior to that? Why was there no challenge?
Society has changed.
I see. You will grant me, of course, that the draft in
effect, discriminated against men, that many people were drafted; they went
into the armed services. Many people, many men went to Vietnam under a draft
they did not want to go. Would you grant that?
Yes, I'll grant you that.
So, we have a question here. Let me ask you your
preference. Which would you have preferred to do—be drafted to go to Vietnam
or be denied a job because of vet—, veterans' preference?
I would prefer to serve my country if given the
I beg your pardon?
I would prefer to serve my country.
You would prefer to be drafted.
You will grant, of course, that there are a lot of people
who have made the other choice.
And if you had been drafted, along with other people,
wouldn't you have expected that the veterans' preference that had been
promised you before you went into the armed forces should be given to you
when you got out?
Yes, I would. I would look for a veterans' preference but
not for a lifetime preference to give, be given to me. Once I had made my
readjustment to society, I would be able to go on.
You're in the convenient position, of course, of not
actually having to have stood by that statement.
Let me ask you a question now in terms of women's groups.
The National Organization for Women has come out and said that they're in
favor of the abolition of all veterans' preference. There have been
statements from this very administration implying that if this legislation
is successfully guided through the Congress, that the next step will be to
take a look at the disabled veteran and see if some of his preferential
treatment should be reduced. How far would you go in eliminating veterans'
This administration does not intend to reduce the
benefits to the disabled veteran. It has—
May I quote? "President's Reorganization Project: After
some experience has been gained in the operation of this recommendation,
further consideration should be given to limiting the time period in which
disabled veterans and certain wives and widows retain preference in
reductions in force." They are thinking of doing it.
The wives and widows are a separate issue.
Disabled veterans is what I read this for. Are we not
faced here with a situation that if this proposal goes through, then the
next step will be to further reduce veterans' preference? How do we know
this isn't the entering wedge technique?
This modification to the veterans' preference is not
intended to reduce benefits, it is intended to augment the preference that's
available. It's intended to create greater opportunities for the Vietnam,
Isn't it true that the administration originally put
forward a piece of legislation which was even harsher in its reduction of
veterans' preference than this one; and they've fallen back to this because
they think they can get this through? And if this goes through, the next
step will be partial legislation.
One brief answer please, Miss Dondy.
If you're referring to the ten-year original veterans'
preference which was extended to the 15-year, no, that was just a
modification. And upon review of those individuals who would be affected by
it, it was immediately realized—
They didn't real—-
—that the 15-year period was needed. And in fact, further
modifications can be made to the extent to which it's needed.
At this point I've got to turn to Miss Marshall;
she's going to ask you some additional questions. Miss Marshall—
Miss Dondy, how many women are there in the higher levels
of the Air Force, in absolute numbers?
In the GS schedule, the general grade schedule, above
GS-14, there are 3.
There are three women in the—
Miss Dondy, what is, what, above what pay scale
is GS-14? Could you tell us?
And do you know how many men there are approximately in
Roughly a thousand.
So there are three women and about a thousand
And if Vietnam, if the veterans' preference is not
modified, is it going to be possible to move more women into that
And why do you say that?
Most of the job movement within each of the Agencies,
including our own, results from looking at those in the lower grade
schedule. And the extent to which there are all white male veterans in those
lower grade schedules, towards which, from which we're promoting, those are
the ones who will move up through the ranks; and there will be no
opportunity to hire minorities and women into the Department.
I'm sorry; I have to break in at this time. But,
thank you very, very much for being with us.
It's time now to go to our closing arguments. And we'll
begin with Miss Marshall, who has one minute. Miss Marshall—
In 1944, Congress, without a single voice of opposition,
passed the veterans' preference act. In part, it was a gesture of gratitude
to those who had endured the dangers of war. It was in part an attempt to
compensate the families of those who had died. And it most certainly was in
part a recognition of how very difficult it is to readjust into civilian
I think we were right to give veterans' preference then,
as I think we were right to give assistance to Korean veterans; and we
should be given— be giving assistance to Vietnam veterans. But we have to
recognize that if the World War II and Korean War veterans continue to
exercise their preference, they are using a facility that they no longer
need; for they have long since been integrated into society. Each time they
exercise that preference, and many of them exercise it repeatedly, it is at
the expense of younger veterans and women of all ages. To modify veterans'
preference as we have proposed, would insure that the concentration of
employment opportunities would go to those veterans who need it—-the
disabled veterans and the young veterans and would open up the hiring
possibilities in the Civil Service of qualified women.
Thank you, Miss Marshall. Let's turn now to Mr.
Nelson. Mr. Nelson, you have one minute.
Thank you. It is a sad fact of life that when war is
imminent or recently won, the soldier is viewed as a savior of his country,
when the war is a little bit distant, or when we perhaps have had a bad
experience and some of us want to forget, then some elements in society want
to forget about the veteran as well. The fact is that veterans' preference
no longer exists for those going into the armed forces now. The fact is also
that if we eliminate veterans' preference, we will not substantially benefit
women. We certainly won't benefit the Vietnam veteran. Just think about it.
How is he benefited by eliminating the lifetime preference that older
veterans have? So what we have here is a problem—that if we implement this
proposal, we will end up yielding to some political forces of the time, but
hurting the veterans. A country is judged on the morality, on how well we
keep promises, not yielding to those political forces. We made a commitment
to our country, to ourselves, to the men and women who served in the armed
forces of this nation, who went there when our country was in jeopardy and
served to make the country secure and to keep this country free. I think we
ought to honor that commitment, abide by what we said we would give to the
veterans and keep the veteran's pres—, preference as it is now.
Thank you. Now we hope we'll hear from you in our
audience. What do you think? Should veterans' preference be modified or cut
back and federal and state jobs to provide more opportunity for women? Send
us your "Yes" or "No" vote and your comments on a postcard to The Advocates,
Box 1979, Boston, 02134.
On March 18, The Advocates debated the question, "Should
the United States agree to United Nation's control of under sea mining?" Our
audience responded this way: 55 percent said "Yes," and 45 percent said
"No." On March 25, The Advocates debated the question, "Should we end the
court's authority over truant, runaway, and incorrigible children?" And our
audience responded this way: 57 percent said "Yes," and 43 percent said
We hope that all of you will join us next week for another
very lively debate. We want to thank Miss Marshall, Mr. Nelson, their very
distinguished witnesses, and our host, the Kennedy School of Government,
here at Harvard University- Thank you all, and good night.