By Team MOC

The Trump administration’s recent federal hiring freezes have included the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has sparked an outcry on behalf of veterans from both sides of the aisle.

In a letter written and sent to the White House January 26, 55 Democratic lawmakers (including every Democrat in the Senate) asked the president to examine the “hiring freeze’s effect on our nation’s veterans and exempt VA as well as any veterans seeking federal employment.”

Three top Republican heads of Congress’ veterans committees wrote a separate but similar letter to the president requesting exemptions for the VA’s “direct patient care providers.” In the letter, they noted, “We must ensure that, while we work toward our mutual goal of VA healthcare reform, VA is not further hampered by an inability to recruit high-quality clinicians to meet the immediate health care needs of our veterans.”

According to The Military Times, the “Department of Defense confirmed Wednesday that the order does apply to civilian military staff, though many jobs may be eligible for the exemption.” Furthermore, Robert Snyder, the acting Secretary of the VA has said that he will exempt any VA workers deemed “necessary for public safety, including frontline caregivers.”

However, Democrats have countered that the VA exceptions “won’t include support staff, appointment schedulers, payment processers, and other key staffers who veterans rely on” and will “have a direct impact on the number of veterans on waiting lists at facilities across the country.”

Regardless of exemptions for the VA, it does not seem that they will be granted to veterans waiting to be hired by the federal government. Veterans make up 31 percent of the federal work force– or 623,000 of 2 million in the federal government.

The Democrats’ letter addressed the effect of the hiring freeze on veterans looking to enter the federal workforce: “An across-the-board freeze will hurt these veterans, many of whom are transitioning from military to civilian service, and many of whom are disabled. The negative impacts of this freeze will be felt across the country and disproportionately affect those men and women who have honorably served in our military.”