When did it start, that elected Philadelphia city officials believe that the commitment and sacrifice made by military veterans to the city, state and nation for more than 240 years is in some way related or equivalent to a select group of public high school students?
Area veterans feel that this false equivalence is a “slap in the face” to servicemembers, veterans and their families.
Why are City Council members currently considering Bills and Charter changes (200006, 200007, 200040) that would permanently take away a portion of the roughly 60 thousand Philadelphia veterans’ constitutionally protected rights and hand them to some, not all, high school students?
The veteran point preference is protected under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution as a right of property. Such a proposal is also pre-empted by the Pennsylvania Veterans’ Preference Act, 51 Pa. Cons.Stat.Ann. § 7104(b), which establishes a property right for veterans under 42 U.S.C. § 1983,as found in Carter v. City of Philadelphia. Consequently, it would violate state and federal law, and would be both invalid and unconstitutional.
The 10-point preference given to veterans and children/grandchildren of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty is a privilege intended to thank those who have made sacrifices as public servants or military. It is also in recognition of extra training these citizens achieve in leadership, hard work, duty and personal sacrifice, including some who gave their lives.
How does a “handout” at the expense of veterans help specially trained 1,500 Career and Technical Education (CTE) public high school students to a civil service job? Of the approximately 200 open city positions, roughly 46 are entry level jobs. What message does this send to our young people and our Philadelphia community to arbitrarily hand over a preference that’s been earned by military veterans?
This would be a continuing, permanently chartered discouragement and disrespect to those who served. Only 1.8% of the approximately 30 thousand city jobs are held by military Veterans. And even fewer feel confident to try for these jobs—the veteran application rate is 1.5%.
Philadelphia city council are going in the wrong direction for veterans’ preference rights. We need to encourage veterans with their needed skills to serve again, in Philadelphia.
Uphold the rights of our veterans and first responders. Call the city council and the Mayor and attend the City Hall Council meeting this Thursday at 1030 a.m. to STOP city council and to strongly oppose all three pieces of this ill-conceived proposal.
Major General (Ret.) Wesley E. Craig
34th Commanding General, 28th Infantry Division
51st Adjutant General of Pennsylvania
This letter was submitted as a response to Jenny DeHuff’s piece, “Should tech school grads get hiring preference for city jobs like vets do?”