Government employees with military experience on the island of Guam have had an easier time getting promoted because of their veteran status.

But now, lawmakers for the U.S. territory have unanimously voted to end this practice after other government employees complained about being overlooked, the Guam Daily Post reports.

According to the testimony of one of the island’s top firefighters, a veteran of the Coast Guard and Army National Guard, the current law giving veterans a 5-point preference over other applicants during the hiring process for government jobs was well intended. But, he said, it went too far by also giving former service members a 5-point lead for promotions because it "devalued the service and sacrifice of our very own.”

Another firefighter said morale at the department took a big hit last promotion cycle, when a large number of firefighters who had been deployed with the Guard and reserves came back and were promoted over others who had stayed and “held down the fort.”

Police officers and educators were also among those who advocated for the change in Guam’s law, which will still keep veteran preference in place for initial hiring decisions but will not apply the extra points for promotions. This is similar to the approach taken at the federal level, which grants 5 points to most veterans and 10 points to those with a service-connected disability or a Purple Heart, but does not apply these points to promotions, transfers or other changes once a person is already employed.

The Guam Federation of Teachers said in a statement that the best employees are the ones who should get ahead.

“GFT believes that once employed with the government, continued employment and advancement must be based on the value of service, skills, qualifications and character of the employee for the efficiency of government service,” according to the statement.

Natalie Gross has been reporting for Military Times since 2017. She grew up in a military family and has a master's degree in journalism from Georgetown University.

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