VA specifies jobs exempt from Trump's hiring freeze

VA specifies jobs exempt from Trump's hiring freeze
© Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has released a full list of jobs exempt from President Trump’s federal hiring freezing that includes a slew of medical specialties.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs intends to exempt anyone it deems necessary for public health and safety, including frontline caregivers,” acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Snyder said in a statement. “The president and VA remain committed to seeing that our veterans receive the quality care and benefits they’ve earned. This is the right thing to do for our veterans.”

Trump signed an executive order Monday that freezes all federal hiring except for the military. It also allows for exemptions for public safety.

The hiring freeze has come under fire from dozens of Democrats, including every Democrat in the Senate, who say it disproportionately affects veterans, as the VA won’t be able to hire support staff and veterans won’t be able to apply for federal jobs. The Democrats wanted Trump to exempt the entire VA from the order. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Two leading Republicans on veterans issues also called this week for Trump to clarify his order to the VA.

Under the VA memo released Friday, 73 job titles at the Veterans Health Administration are exempt from the order, ranging from general medical staff to psychologists to nurses to security guards and more.

Without the exempt jobs, the memo says, “The safety and welfare of veterans would be at stake.”

Also exempt will be some employees for 24 VA facilities that are in the process of being leased or built, the memo says.

“To ensure veterans are able to continue accessing state-of-the-art facilities and the quality care they deserve, I am granting exemptions to ensure the minimum staffing required to become or remain operational, and to ensure that the safety and health standards required by law are met,” Snyder wrote in the memo.

Support positions to make sure construction finishes will also be exempt on a case-by-case basis, according to the memo.

Finally, certain positions at the National Cemetery Administration “directly involved in the burial of veterans and eligible family members” will also be exempt, the memo says.

Not mentioned in the memo is staff to handle benefits claims. Hundreds of thousands of appeals for disability benefits claims are pending, and critics of the hiring freeze have said it could exacerbate the issue.