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VA Continues to Make Irrational Selective Service Decisions

Posted by Marc Smith | Oct 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

As previously written in this blog, if you are male and have not registered with the Selective Service and are considering a Title 38 position with the US Department of Veterans Affairs — don't bother. Despite its critical shortage of medical professionals, the VA continues to turn away well-qualified medical professionals who did not register with the Selective Service System — even when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence (which is higher than the preponderance of evidence standard the VA purports to apply) that the failure to register was not knowing and willful.

In a recent case, we represented a young physician who applied for and was accepted for a residency at a program which included a rotation at a VA hospital in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, after forgoing other opportunities and moving to Wisconsin with his spouse (also a resident), the VA discovered that our client was not registered with the Selective Service and informed him that he was not eligible to participate in their program because of his registration status. We timely appealed that decision to the VA (OPM does not hear cases involving Title 38 employees). During this process, we assembled a virtual mountain of sworn declarations from family members, school administration officials and others proving that our client simply never learned about the registration requirement while eligible to register. We also had written support from the VA hospital and from veterans organizations. Our client even submitted to and passed a lie detector test conclusively establishing that he never learned of his obligation to register.

Despite all of this evidence, the VA summarily rejected our client's explanation. In a nutshell, the VA based its decision on the premise that every male is “assumed to know” of the obligation to register — a baseless and unreasonable rationale that flies in the face of well-known statistical facts, basic logic and ignores the fact that OPM routinely makes findings on identical facts that the failure to register was not knowing and willful. We were advised by a VA official involved in the process that VA's position with regard to Selective Service cases originates within the Office of General Counsel. The VA needs to wake up and take heed of the fact that its irrational decisions are actually damaging the mission of the Agency and hurting veterans.

In the end, the VA's arbitrary actions have caused it to lose yet another doctor to care for veterans who desperately need medical care.

About the Author

Marc Smith

Marc J. Smith is a Rockville, Maryland employment attorney and a founding member of the law firm formerly known as Smith, Lease & Goldstein, LLC. In 2018, after 18 years managing Smith, Lease & Goldstein, LLC's employment counseling and litigation practice, Marc launched his own boutique practice...

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Representation Of Employers And Employees

The Law Office of Marc J. Smith, LLC is a boutique employment law practice based in downtown Rockville, Maryland near the Montgomery County Circuit and District Courts. The Firm’s practice focuses exclusively in the employment law arena and provides counseling, litigation and a wide range of other employment-related services to employers and employees throughout the State of Maryland, Washington D.C. and other jurisdictions. The Firm also represents individuals who have failed to register with the Selective Service System and who are trying to apply for or maintain federal employment.

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