Again Earl, thank you for points #2 in the first section and #2 in the second section. Should a vet apply for a STEM position, say an engineering tech. He/she is graded, fills out the assessment questions and one of the questions is "Do you have education or experience using AutoCad or engineering drawing programs." As you have said, and David will concur...... if the vet checks "I do not have any experience with this"....the non vet with a 4.0 and even they possess full engineering degree will not make the cert. With that said, the vet does have vast experience in his/her military career with some experience on systems "similar" to CAD, that is a leg up for sure, but not a disqualifier.
I know this, because "I asked". This is the reality. It is the law.
To talk to young people and tell them, "come on, we need you, we need innovation...." is doing them a genuine disservice. Tell the truth. Should a vet not apply for a position, you may have a chance.
There is no amount of demming method or TQM, or meeting of the minds or whatever feel good, let everyone have an opinion/suggestion that is going to policy/regulation/statute or law.
As you pointed out Earl with limited budgets major cuts...it's not a overnight miracle. For example: the 303 series at a GS4-6 are a dime a dozen....but most young people and yes, even vets aren't looking in that grade or series and wouldn't even consider it. Or even a WG 4 or 5. Is it pride? or maybe some don't realize it's a foot in the door. Something to consider.