A new legislation could grant civil service hiring preferences to veterans in the Garden State seeking employment.

(Maksym Dragunov, ThinkStock)

Under current state law, a veteran is defined as someone who was honorably discharged from any branch of the military and served at least 14 days in a combat theater. Every other state in the nation uses the federal definition, which does not distinguish veterans based on where they served. This makes a huge difference when veterans in New Jersey are looking for a public, state civil service job.

A bill (A-3884) introduced by Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Northfield) would grant civil service hiring preference to veterans who meet the federal definition and will make New Jersey more consistent with other states. The legislation would place qualified veterans under the federal definition at the top of an employment list after veterans qualified under New Jersey law.

"My bill would make all veterans available to be on the state civil service list to be hired," said Mazzeo. "New Jersey should allow our veterans to have this opportunity or bigger opportunity for employment and this would help them move up the list."

By nature, the current law is somewhat discriminatory because female soldiers were, until recently, kept out of the front lines, Mazzeo said.

"This is an antiquated law and we have to update it so that our veterans have the same rights as those in the rest of the states do. The federal government, actually they're doing it right and the rest of the states are doing it right and we have to clean it up and make it better for our veterans," Mazzeo said.

In the bill statement which can be found at, the federal definition of veteran is someone who was honorably or generally discharged and served:

  • During the period December 7, 1941, to July 1, 1955; or
  • For more than 180 consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976; or
  • During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990 through January 2, 1992; or
  • In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized, including El Salvador, Grenada, Haiti, Lebanon, Panama, Somalia, Southwest Asia, Bosnia, and the Global War on Terrorism.

"These folks sacrificed for their country and in I think the least we can do is try to provide them with a good living when they come back," Mazzeo said.