128-15. Employment preference for veterans and their spouses or surviving spouses.

(a) It shall be the policy of the State of North Carolina that, in appreciation for their service to this State and this country during a period of war, and in recognition of the time and advantage lost toward the pursuit of a civilian career, veterans and eligible members of the National Guard shall be granted preference in employment with every State department, agency, and institution.

(b) As used in this section:

(1) Period of war. - World War I (April 16, 1917, through November 11, 1918), World War II (December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946), the Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955), the period of time between January 31, 1955, and the end of the hostilities in Vietnam (May 7, 1975), or any other campaign, expedition, or engagement for which a campaign badge or medal is authorized by the United States Department of Defense.

(2) Veteran. - A person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty, for reasons other than training, and has been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

(3) Eligible veteran. - Any of the following:

a. A veteran who served during a period of war.

b. The spouse of a disabled veteran.

c. The surviving spouse or dependent of a veteran who dies on active duty during a period of war either directly or indirectly as the result of such service.

d. A veteran who suffered a disabling injury for service-related reasons during peacetime.

e. The spouse of a veteran described in sub-subdivision d. of this subdivision.

f. The surviving spouse or dependent of a person who served in the Armed Forces of the United States on active duty, for reasons other than training, who dies for service-related reasons during peacetime.

(4) Eligible member of the National Guard. - Any of the following:

a. A resident of North Carolina who is a current member in good standing of either the North Carolina Army National Guard or the North Carolina Air National Guard.

b. A resident of North Carolina who is a former member of either the North Carolina Army National Guard or the North Carolina Air National Guard, whose discharge is under honorable conditions with a minimum of six years of creditable service.

c. The surviving spouse and dependent of a member of the North Carolina Army National Guard or the North Carolina Air National Guard who dies on State active duty either directly or indirectly as a result of that service.

d. The surviving spouse or dependent of a member of the North Carolina National Guard who died for service-related reasons during peacetime.

(c) Hereafter, in all evaluations of applicants for positions with this State or any of its departments, institutions or agencies, a preference shall be awarded to all eligible veterans and eligible members of the National Guard who are citizens of the State and who served the State or the United States honorably in the military forces of this State or of the United States during a period of war. This preference applies to initial employment with the State and extends to other employment events including subsequent hirings, promotions, reassignments, and horizontal transfers.

(d) The provisions of this section shall be subject to the provisions of Article 1 of Chapter 165 of the General Statutes, G.S. 126-83, and Parts 13 and 19 of Article 9 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes. (1939, c. 8; 1953, c. 1332; 1967, c. 536; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1064, s. 2; 2007-286, s. 1; 2011-183, s. 96; 2021-180, s. 19E.4(c).)