Are you currently, or expecting to have, a 20 percent or more disability rating? Read on, but know the keyword: Employment.
That’s what Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment is all about: Landing a good job. The program is not an outlet to hide away as a higher education student for the rest of your days — as some would have it — but to provide extra financial support for training or education to deserving vets who can no longer perform tasks as they could pre-disability.
Say, for instance, your lifelong dream after the military was to become a commercial pilot, but after an injury was sustained — maybe to the eyes or ears — you are no longer eligible. Well, that kind of throws a wrench in your life; and that’s where Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment comes in. It is, simply, a secondary safety net for vets who need more assistance in order to obtain employment.
You might expect that it’s a complicated process. It’s not. As long as you meet the qualification of 20 percent and have a discharge other than dishonorable, all you have to do is fill out this form and deliver it by hand or mail to your nearest VA regional office. Make sure you send it to a regional office and not a VA medical building. Something I’ve been doing for years when corresponding with the VA is pay a little extra at the post office for certified mail with a return receipt. This way, you have proof that the respective office received your forms.
The next step is an initial appointment, which will be set up by the regional office. You will receive a letter with instructions to take a computerized test that evaluates your basic knowledge (sort of like a mini-ASVAP); it will also analyze your interests and potential strengths. The test can be accessed via the Internet from home. It is important that you do as well as you can on this test. It’s a critical step, and must be completed prior to your initial face-to-face appointment with a Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment representative. It is also helpful to bring a resume to the appointment and any unofficial education transcripts.
You will be assigned a case manager and once you are officially inducted into the program, it will supersede the GI Bill. This part of the process seems to frighten vets the most. There are rumors afloat that Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits are not as good as the GI Bill. This is simply untrue. The financial support remains the same, and nothing changes beyond the fact that you will have a case manager, which equals a direct line to anything you may need or questions you may have. You need only work with him/her from that point onward, which is a breath of fresh air. Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment is just one of several programs giving modern vets an edge to sharpen their pursuits.
Never forget where you came from