Veterans’ Laws and Benefits


Veterans’ tenure

M.G.L. ch. 30, s.9A

Veterans who hold state non-civil service positions for more than three years cannot be involuntarily separated for lack of work or money when similar offices or positions exist, unless such positions are held by veterans, in which case separation shall occur in reverse order of their respective original appointments.

Civil service

M.G.L. ch. 31, s.26

Veterans are given preference in the eligibility lists of civil service positions in the following order:

  • Disabled veterans
  • Veterans
  • Spouses or single parents of veterans who were killed in action or who died from a service-connected disability incurred during wartime service, provided that the spouse or parent has not remarried.

M.G.L. ch. 31, s. 12

Veterans who apply for civil service jobs for which there is no exam, and therefore, no list, receive preference over equally qualified non-veterans. If more than one veteran qualifies for a position, it is up to the appointing authority to make the choice between or among them. If an authority wants to bypass this law, it has to get the Human Resources Division’s (HRD) approval. HRD’s civil service unit also maintains lists of state agencies with vacancies and will notify interested veterans of openings.

Open competitive exams

Civil service uses a system of absolute veteran’s preference in which someone qualifying as a veteran who receives 70 points or above on an open competitive exam (including police and firefighter) is immediately placed at the head of the eligibility list. This does not mean that the veteran automatically gets the job. They are just placed at the head of the list and hired when there is a vacancy. Within the system of absolute veteran’s preference, veterans are ranked as follows:

  1. Disabled veterans have first preference over all other veterans;
  2. All other veterans have second preference;
  3. Spouses and single parents of veterans who died in action or from service-connected wounds receive third preference.

Note: Those Guard and Reserve members called for active duty can either take exams overseas or take make-up promotional exams upon their return by contacting the Human Resources Division: 617-878-9757 before deployment.

Promotional exams

All types of veterans have two points added to their scores. They are not placed at the head of the list.

Labor service

M.G.L. ch. 31, s. 28

There is no exam required for labor service positions. Veterans, whether disabled or not, are placed at the top of the eligibility list. Spouses and single parents of veterans are placed below veterans but above all other applicants.

Public service

Acts of 1941 c.708 (4)

Members of the Guard or Reserve who are called to active service and who have taken a civil service test, passed, and are on a current certified list are eligible for protection on their civil service original appointment exams. They must make a request in writing up to one year following their discharge to be continued on or restored to such list for a period of time equal to the time of military service. If a person is on more than one list they must request this protection separately for each list.

Retirement: Pension buy-back

M.G.L. ch. 32, s.4 (h)

Veterans who are employed by state government and certain other governmental units are eligible to buy back up to four years of active service accrued at the rate of one year for every one year of active duty service or four years of active Reserve or National Guard service accrued at the rate of one year for every five years of active Reserve or Guard Service.

Public works employment

M.G.L. ch. 149 s. 26

Preference is given to qualified veterans in public works construction by the state, a county, town, authority or district, or by a person contracting with or subcontracting for such work. Each county, town, district, contractor, or subcontractor therefore shall give preference to veterans and service-connected disabled veterans who live in their jurisdiction.

Eligible veterans:

All veterans as defined by M.G.L. ch.4, s.7, cl. 43.

Contact information:

Veterans’ preference in civil service positions:

Human Resource Division
One Ashburton Place, 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02108

Protections for Reserve/Guard and active duty military

Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)

Under federal legislation (Chapter 43 of Title 38, U.S. Code) enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), servicemembers are entitled to return to their civilian public or private employment with the seniority, status, and pay they would have attained had they been continuously employed if they meet certain criteria. In particular, the law:

  • Expands the anti-discrimination protection of Reserve and Guard members in hiring, retention, and advancement on the basis of their military obligation;
  • Requires employers to make reasonable efforts to retrain or upgrade skills to qualify workers for reemployment;
  • Expands healthcare and employee benefit pension plan coverage;
  • Extends the number of years an individual may be absent for military duty;
  • Improves the protections for disabled veterans and improves enforcement mechanisms for servicemembers who believe their reemployment rights have been violated.

Servicemembers are required to give advance notice of their service obligation to employers unless military necessity makes this impossible. Notice must be given to employers of intent to return to employment under a set of guidelines based on the length of time absent from the job. Employers and servicemembers with specific questions about their rights and obligations under the USERRA should contact a veterans’ representative at the U.S. Department of Labor: 617-626-6699 or visit the website at

Release for training

M.G.L. ch. 33, s. 59 and 59A

Massachusetts National Guard members who are state employees or county, city, or town employees whose elected authority has accepted this provision are entitled to:

  • Up to 34 paid days for any state fiscal year or 17 paid days for any federal fiscal year with the same leaves of absence or vacation given to others.

No member shall be required to use vacation or other time for training drills requiring release from their normal scheduled work hours. Such release from work shall not affect leaves of absence or vacation with pay given to others.

M.G.L. ch. 149, s. 52A

Ready Reserve members employed in the public or private sector are protected from loss of their positions, including normal vacation, sick leave, bonuses, and advancements during the annual training so long as they do not exceed 17 days in any calendar year, give notice of return and departure, and with the discretion of the employer the leave may be with or without pay.

Public employees serving in Global War on Terrorism

Ch. 77 of the Acts of 2005

An employee of the state, or a county, city, or town that accepts this law who has been called up from the Reserve or National Guard after September 11, 2001, and until September 11, 2011, is entitled to the difference, if any, between his/her base pay as a public employee and his/her base pay from the military.

Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS)

The Veterans’ Employment and Training Services (VETS) program is provided with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant allows the Division of Career Services to provide Disabled Veteran’s Outreach Program (DVOP) specialists and Local Veteran Employment Representatives (LVER) at One-Stop Career Centers throughout the Commonwealth.

One-Stop Career Centers

One-Stop Career Centers are located across the state in every major city, with branch offices in additional communities. While centers design services to meet local needs, there are core services that are similar across the statewide network. There is no charge for these services for veterans. DVOPs and LVERs (who work at Career Centers) give priority service to veterans. For a complete listing of the One-Stop Career Centers: or call Toll-free: 1-877-872-5627 (US2-JOBS).

Transition Assistance Program (TAP)

The Transitional Assistance Program (TAP) is an intensive five-day course designed to ease the transition of military personnel into civilian life. TAP workshops are facilitated regularly by DVOP and LVER staff at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Fort Devens in Acton, and the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Boston. TAP is available to transitioning military personnel and their family members who are within 12 months of separating or 24 months of separating if retiring from the military.

Contact information:

Department of Career Services
19 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114

Anti-discrimination protection

M.G.L. ch. 151B, s. 4

It is illegal for any employer to deny initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment to a person who is a member of, applies to perform, or has an obligation to perform, service in a uniformed military service of the United States, including the National Guard. Veterans believing they were discriminated on the basis of their status as veterans should report any complaints to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). And contact USERRA at: Tel: 617-626-6699 or visit the website at

Contact information:

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)
One Ashburton Place, Room 601
Boston, MA 02108-1518
Tel: 617-994-6000
TTY: 617-994-6196

Green jobs and training grants

The Veterans' Workforce Investment Program (VWIP) grant, called The Green TEAM (Training and Employment Access for MA) veterans' initiative assists eligible Massachusetts veterans residing in the I-495/Boston Metropolitan area, especially those recently discharged, disabled veterans, and those most in need, in accessing information leading to green training, certification and licensure, and employment opportunities. Green training and green jobs are a priority however, traditional training and career paths are also included within the VWIP program opportunities.

This program is administered through Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, with staff in Haverhill, Wellesley, South Shore, and Boston.

Contact information:

Green Jobs for Vets
Bedford VA Hospital Complex
204 Springs Road, Building 5, Suite 200
Bedford, MA 01730-1163
Tel:  978-476-9144
Toll Free: 1-800-482-2565

Additional VWIP services

Another program received DOL/VWIP funding and serves the geographic area beyond I-495 by providing training and employment services for green jobs.

Contact information:

Veterans, Inc.
69 Grove Street,
Worcester, MA 01605
Tel: 508-791-1213
Toll Free: 1-800-482-2565

Job training for homeless veterans

Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants require that the participating veteran be homeless or currently residing in a shelter in order to be eligible for the training, job assistance, and housing services.

Contact information:

Serving homeless veterans south of Boston:

Father Bills & MainSpring
Administrative Offices
430 Belmont Street
Brockton, MA 02301
Tel: 508-427-6448

Individual Shelters:

Father Bill's Place
38 Broad Street
Quincy, MA  02169
Tel: 617-770-3314

MainSpring House
54 North Main Street
Brockton, MA 02301
Tel: 508-587-5441

Serving Worcester and south including Fall River and New Bedford:

Veterans, Inc.
69 Grove Street,
Worcester, MA 01605
Tel: 508-791-1213
Toll Free: 1-800-482-2565

Also within the Commonwealth, four additional HVRP funding. For eligibility criteria contact the individual program.

Project Place
1145 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118
Tel: 617-542-3740

New England Center for Homeless Veterans
17 Court Street
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-371-1800

Soldier On
421 North Main Street
Northampton, MA 01053
Tel: 413-582-3059

Veterans, Inc.
69 Grove Street
Worcester, MA 01605
Tel: 508-791-1213
Toll Free: 1-800-482-2565

Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring veterans

For-profit employers in Massachusetts may be eligible for a federal tax credit through the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program if they hire a qualifying unemployed veteran. An unemployed veteran is a person discharged or released from the military during the five years preceding the hiring date who received unemployment benefits for a least four weeks during the one-year period ending on the hiring date. Individuals must be identified as members of one of these targeted groups before a job offer is made. The WOTC program has two purposes: to help individuals who qualify as members of a target group to get a job; and to help employers who hire qualified individuals by giving them a credit on their federal taxes. The person hired must be employed for at least 120 hours.For more information on this federal program, ask a DVOP/LVER at a Career Center or call Toll-Free: 1-877-872-5657 for the Career Center locations near you.