The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

July 26, 2013

Examining the veteran hiring process

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa City Council is ready to address concerns about the city's process of hiring veterans.

Mayor Frank Flanders requested that the city look at its practice of hiring veterans following a roundtable with U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack last month.

"Making sure they're aware what positions are available is very important," Flanders said. "One thing we can do, even if it's not within our jurisdiction, is help connect them with the right entity that can help them."

Vietnam War veteran Kenney Matthew Sr. raised the issue at the meeting, saying veterans are given "a dirty deal" when returning to Ottumwa to look for jobs.

Matthew said he was unable to gain a position with the Ottumwa Fire Department after he returned.

"I was over-trained," he said. "They should've hired me anyway, but they didn't. This city has a problem hiring veterans."

According to Iowa Code, veterans applying for civil service positions must be given preference in the form of 5 percentage points added to their grade, which ranks them on a civil service entrance list. An additional 5 percentage points are added if the veteran has a service-connected disability.

But the city cannot automatically hire someone just because he or she is a veteran. The veteran has to be qualified for the job "with or without reasonable accommodation."

City Attorney and Human Resources Manager Joni Keith said she doesn't know how many of the city's 300 employees are veterans — since it would take poring through every employee's application to find out — but one new employee on Monday's agenda is.

The council will vote whether to appoint Ryan Mathisrud, a National Guard veteran, to the position of planner recently vacated by Nick Klimek's move to the department head's seat.

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