The Department of Veterans Affairs will exempt close to 75 positions from the temporary federal hiring freeze and most of them are healthcare jobs, ranging from clinicians to food service workers.
Acting VA Secretary Robert Snyder issued a memorandum (PDF) on Friday that identifies all the positions that he considers vital to the VA’s public safety responsibilities.
The memo was in response to President Donald Trump’s announcement last week that federal agencies can’t fill or create new positions for 90 days while the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management devise a long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal government’s workforce through attrition.
However, Trump also said that the head of any executive department or agency may exempt any position that he or she deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.
There were more than 2,000 job openings at the VA when the hiring freeze went into effect. On Wednesday, 53 members of Congress sent a letter to Trump urging him to exempt the VA and all veterans seeking federal jobs from the executive order.
"A hiring freeze at the VA will delay veterans' access to healthcare and resolution of their disability claims, which for many of our nation's heroes provides a sole source of income to them and their families," the members wrote. "Our nation's veterans should not be made to sacrifice any more than they already have while you review federal hiring."
Snyder’s memo states that the exempt positions are located in various VA medical centers, outpatient clinics, community-based outpatient clinics and health centers. He noted that a small number of positions included in the list are “mission critical support positions, without which patient care providers cannot function.”
The list includes open positions for a medical officer, physician’s assistant, nurse, occupational therapist, pharmacist, respiratory therapist, medical technician, housekeeping aid and food service worker.