Reemployment of Returning Veterans at the VA Hospital, Seattle

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-02-26.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

B-171434                                   R                              FIB 2 8 gj7’1

Dear Mr.     Chairman:                                              lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

       In accordance      with your request            of November 25, 1970,
and subsequent      arrangements        made with your office            on Decem-
ber 7, 1970, we have reviewed              the circumstances          surrounding
the reemployment        of Mr. Donald E. Stahl             in September        1969 at
the Seattle     Veterans     Administration           (VA) Hospital,       after    his
discharge    from active      military       service,     and the efforts          made
by VA to place him in a position                that would better         utilize
his military     training     and experience           and 5ducation.          We dis-
cussed this matter        with Mr. Stahl and appropriate                 officials
of the VA and the Civil           Service     Commission,      as you suggested,
and reviewed     pertinent     records       and other data made available
to us by your office         and VA.

        We conclude     that,    from the time Mr. Stahl was reemployed
until     he resigned     on December 3, 1969, VA did not make any
special     effort    to better       utilize      his skills,     training,    and ed-
ucation     at the Seattle       VA Hospital.          Our review       showed, how-
ever, that during         this period          there were not any positions
available      at the Seattle         VA Hospital      in which his services
could have been better           utilized         and still    have allowed     him to
remain a full-time          student        at the University       of Washington.
Our findings       are discussed           below.

      On May 12, 1969, Mr. Stahl notified          the personnel    office
at the Seattle  VA Hospital      that he would be released       from ac-
tive duty in September     1969.     In his letter    he stated:

       “***     I am in this      letter   notifying        you of my intent
       to request      restoration       to my old position        in the
       Diet Service       or to a position         to which I am quali-
       fied by virtue        of my military        training     or civilian
       training     and experience.”

       ‘I***   I hold the rank of Captain    in the Army Medical
       Service    Corps and the duty MQS [Military      Occupational
       Specialty]     of Nuclear Medical  Science  Officer   .”

     By letter   dated May 20, 1969, the                    Acting  Personnel          Offi-
cer at the Seattle    VA Hospital      informed              Mr. Stahl   that         VA

                            SO l-1-l ANNIVERSARY/   5921-    ?971
B-171434     ’

planned    to reinstate       him     in his former position.        This letter
did not indicate        whether       VA would consider    Mr. Stahl for any
other position,       nor was        Mr. Stahl requested    to provide     an up-
dated Personal       Qualification         Statement  (SF-171)    showing the
experience    and education           that he had acquired     after    he left
VA employment      in 1965.

       Mr, Stahl       furnished   you copies   of his May 1969 corre-
spondence with         VA; however,    his personnel   records   at the hos-
pital   contained        neither copies    of, nor Peference   to, such

      Officials    of the hospital.       personnel    office    told             us that
they did not recall      whether     Mr. Stahl was considered                     for any
other positions     more suitable       to his qualifications                   in May
1969; however 3 these officials           advised    us that the              only posi-
tion at the hospital       requiring      a degree in physics                  (Mr. Stahl”s
major field     of study in college)        was filled      at the            time
Mr. Stahl requested      reinstatement.

       Mr. Stahl told us that,             shortly      after     his discharge    on
September    II s 1969, he had visited               the hospital       and had met
with the Chief,        Dietetic    Service,        and officials        from the per-
sonnel office        to seek a full-time           night     position,     because at
that time he had been accepted                to attend       the University      of
Washington.        Mr. Stahl stated         also that he was informed             by
personnel.   officials        that full-time        night     positions     were not
available   e

         Officials     of the hospital           personnel    office     informed      us
that they recalled             meeting      with Mr. Stahl in September              1969
and discussing         with him the requirements              for reinstatement,
but they did not recall                 whether    Mr. Stahl had inquired            about
a full-time        night      position.        They stated,     however,      that,    had
he requested         a full-time         day position      in dietetic       service,      he
would have been given that position.

     Subsequent    to his meeting                 with   hospital   officials,
Mr. Stahl requested     reinstatement                 to his former       position     as
food service   worker   in dietetic                service     and on September        29,


1969, was reinstated.         Mr. Stahl      informed   us that he had re-
quested,    and had been granted,        the afternoon        shift      (2:3O to
7 p.m.),    because he had planned         to attend morning           classes     at
the university.      After    his reinstatement,        Mr. Stahl         furnished
the VA personnel     office     an updated personal         qualification
statement     that showed that he had experience              in administra-
tive   and procurement      matters  while       in the military.

          In a letter        to you dated November 21, 1970, Mr. Stahl
contended        that he had been denied a normal promotion--from
the part-time          position      held prior  to his military      service--to
a. full-time         position      when he was reemployed.,      We cited    a. sec-
tion of the Federal             Personnel    Manual relating     to reemployment
of persons         inducted      into the Armed Forces,      which states,       in
part 9      that   the   person:

       “should    be restored       in such a manner as to give him
       such status        in his employment    as he would have en-
       joyed if he had continued           in such employment   con-
       tinuously       from the time of his entering      the armed
       forces    until      the time of his restoration     to such
       employment. ”

         Our interpretation        of pertinent        sections     of the Federal
Personnel      Manual is that a transfer             from part-time        status     to
full-time      status     is not considered        a promotion.         An official
of the Civil        Service     Commission     confirmed       our interpretation.
Furthermore)        records     at the-Seattle       VA Hospital      showed that
on September        23, 1969, VA converted           a full-time      position      in
dietetic     service      to two part-time       positions        in order to re-
instate     Mr. Stahl.         On December 5, 1969, 2 days after
Mr. Stahl’s       resignation,       VA reconverted         the two part-time
positions      to one full-time        position.

        On the basis of Mr. Stahl’s        statement     that he had re-
quested    the afternoon    shift   so that his job would not inter-
fere with his morning      classes      at the university,        VA”s conver-
sion of a full-time      position    to two part-time        positions    so
that he could be reinstated,         and the inapplicability           of the
section    of the Federal     Personnel    Manual referred        to by


Mr. Stahl, it appears that                  VA did not deny him a normal.                    promo-
tion when he was reinstated                  to a part-time position.

         We were unable to find any evidence                            at the hospital          that
the personnel            office     had made any attempts                 to better      utilize
Mr. Stahl’s           services      during        the period         of his reemployment
 (September         to December 1969).                 To determine         wh,ether Mr. Stahl’s
services        could have been better                  utilized,        we compared his
training        and experience           with qualification               standards      for posi-
tions      available         at the hospital            during       %-he period    of his reem-
ployment * We identified                   full-time          positions      for two nursing
assistants        !, a purchasing          agent,       and a procurement           clerk,       that
were filled           during     this period,           for which Mr. Stahl might have
qualified;          however,       nursing        assistants         were required       to work
rotating        shifts       and the other two positions                    were for daywork
only 0 As stated              previously,           Mr. Stahl was seeking             a full-time
night     position         so that he could attend                   day classes      at the uni-
versity.         Al-so 9 the hourly            wage of all of these positions                      was
lower than the hourly                 wage of his position                in dietetic         ser-
vice D

        Since Mr. Stahl’s          resignation,        the VA hospital          in Seattle
has initiated        procedures       to assist      discharged       veterans     experi-
enced in-medical         specialities          to obtain     employment       that uti-
lizes    such experiences.            The VA hospital         obtains      from VA’s Med-
ical    Discharge      Specialty      Listing     the names and addresses              of
veterans     returning      to the area and sends each veteran                    a Petter
explaining      that he can findeout             about employment          opportunities
with the Seattle         VA Hospital         by completing       and returning         an
enclosed     postcard.        If the veteran         is interested         and if a posi-
tion is available         in his special-ty,           the veteran       is requested
to prepare      a personal       qualification         statement      and to visit        the
hospital     for an interview.

          As of December 21, 1970, the Seattle        VA Hospital     had sent
Setters      to 135 returning      veterans  and, as a result,     had em-
ployed      one returning    Vietnam veteran     as a dental   assistant.

      We have not obtsained                formal     comments       from     VA on the       re-
sults  of our review.

       We plan to make no further     distribution    of this report
unless copies are specifically      requested,     and then we shall
make distribution     only after  your agreement has been obtained
or public    announcement has been made by you concerning        the
contents    of the report.

                                   Sincerely   yours,

                                   Comptroller  General
                                   of the United States

The Honorable  Olin E. Teague,     Chairman
Committee on Veterans'   Affairs
House of Representatives