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Veterans Preference

Veterans' preference is awarded as a means of recognizing the sacrifices of eligible armed forces personnel who served under honorable conditions in the United States military. In accordance with Florida Statute 295, the City of Lakeland will award United States military veterans and spouses of veterans who meet the criteria stipulated in the aforementioned statute preference in employment. All applicants seeking veterans’ preference are required to present legible required documentation in order to qualify.

Please understand that veterans' preference laws do not guarantee placement of a veteran into a position. All applicants must meet the minimum requirements, provide the necessary documentation, and complete and successfully pass all phases of the hiring process to be considered a candidate for hire.

Who is Eligible for Veterans' Preference?

  • A person who served in the active military, naval, or air service who was honorably discharged.
  • Disabled veterans who have served on active duty in any branch of the Armed Forces and who:
    • Have a presently existing service-connected disability which is compensable under public laws administered by the Department of Veteran Affairs; or are receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension by reason of public laws administered by the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Defense.
    • The spouse of any person:
      • Who has a total and permanent service-connected disability and who, because of this disability, cannot qualify for employment; or
      • Who is missing in action, captured in line of duty by a hostile force, or forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power
    • A wartime veteran, who has served at least one day during the wartime as defined in subsection 55A-7.003(12), F.A.C., of this chapter
    • The un-remarried widow or widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability
    • The mother, father, legal guardian, or un-remarried widow or widower of a service member who dies as a results of military service under combat-related conditions as verified by the U.S. Department of Defense
    • A current member of any reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces or the Florida National Guard
    • A veteran who has served in a campaign or expedition for which a qualifying campaign badge or expeditionary medal has been authorized (including any armed forces expeditionary medal or the global war on terrorism medal)  

Required Documentation

The applicant that believes he or she is entitled to veterans’ preference in employment must indicate such preference on the application form.  The applicant claiming preference is responsible for providing required documentation for a vacant position.

All Veterans:

Department of Defense document, commonly known as form DD-214 or military discharge papers, or equivalent certification from the Department of Veteran Affairs, listing military status, dates of service and discharge type.

In addition, the following documents are required to claim preference:

Disabled Veterans:

Documentation from the Department of Defense, the Department of Veteran Affairs, or the Department certifying that the veteran has a service-connected disability.

Spouses of Disabled Veterans:

  • Certification from the Department of Defense or the Veteran Affairs that the veteran is totally and permanently disabled or an identification card issued by the Department
  • Evidence of marriage to the veteran and a statement that the spouse is still married to the veteran at the time of the application for employment
  • Proof that the disabled veteran cannot qualify for employment because of the service-connected disability

Spouses of Persons on Active Duty:

  • Documentation from the Department of Defense or the Department of Veteran Affairs certifying that the person on active duty is listed as missing in action, captured in line of duty, or forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power
  • Evidence of marriage and a statement that the spouse is married to the person on active duty at the time of that application for employment.

Mother, Father, Legal Guardian, or Un-remarried Widow or Widower of a Deceased Veteran:

  • Documentation from the Department of Defense showing the death of service member while on duty status under combat-related conditions or the Department of Veteran Affairs certifying the service-connected death of the Veteran
  • Widow must show evidence of marriage
  • Legal guardian must show the proper court documents establishing the legal authority for the Guardian.

Current reserve members and National Guard:

  • Letter from Commanding Officer stating the dates of military service to establish current active status. 

Submission of Documentation

Submit legible scans and/or copies of required official military documents.

Documents for veterans' preference can be submitted in any of the following methods:

  • Scan or upload with your application as an attachment using the City of Lakeland's online application process
  • Submit in person at City of Lakeland’s Employment Services office located at 500 North Lake Parker Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33801
  • Mail (all required documents must be postmarked on or before the job posting's closing date to be considered for preference eligibility). Documents postmarked after the closing date will not be considered for preference eligibility to:

City of Lakeland - Employment Services
500 North Lake Parker Avenue
Lakeland, Florida 33801

Exempt Positions Chapter 295, Florida Statutes, provides for preference in employment for certain classes of covered positions. However, there are limited exemptions, please refer to Florida Statute 295.07(4)(b). 


If an applicant claiming veterans' preference for a vacant position is not selected, he/she may file a complaint with the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs
Division of Benefits and Assistance - Veterans' Preference
PO Box 31003
St. Petersburg, FL 33731

A complaint must be filed within 60 days from the date after receiving notice of the hiring decision made by the hiring agency or within three months of the date the application is filed with the employer if no notice is given. The enforcement mechanism established by the regulations provide for an initial investigation by the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, followed by an evidentiary proceeding before the Public Employees Relations Commission if the matter cannot be earlier resolved.

Veterans' Preference Resources

For additional information concerning veterans' preference please contact:

The Florida Department of Veterans' Affairs
Phone: 727.319.7462
Fax: 727.319.7780