The Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Readiness and Employment program (previously known as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment) -- sometimes referred to as VR&E, Chapter 31 or Voc-Rehab -- helps veterans with service-connected disabilities and employment handicaps prepare for, find and keep suitable jobs. For veterans with service-connected disabilities so severe that they cannot immediately consider work, VR&E offers services to improve their ability to live as independently as possible.
The VR&E program can provide:
- Comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine abilities, skills, interests and needs
- Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning
- Employment services such as job-seeking skills, resume development and other work readiness assistance
- Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives
- On-the-job training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
- Financial assistance for post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
- Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling and referral
- Independent living services
Eligibility and entitlement are two different things. You may be eligible for VR&E due to having a service-connected disability rating, yet not be entitled to services. The first step in the VR&E process is to be evaluated to determine if you qualify for services. To receive an evaluation for VR&E services, a veteran must meet the following "eligibility" criteria:
- Have received, or will receive, a discharge that is other than dishonorable
- Have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10%
VR&E Program/Process Overview
If VA determines that an employment handicap exists as a result of a service-connected disability, you will be entitled to services. You and a veterans readiness counselor (VRC) will then continue counseling to select a track of services and jointly develop a plan to address your rehabilitation and employment needs.
The rehabilitation plan will specify an employment or independent living goal, identify intermediate goals, and outline services and resources needed to achieve these goals. You and the VRC will work together to implement the plan and achieve successful rehabilitation.
If the VRC determines that you are not entitled to services, they will help you locate other resources to address any rehabilitation and employment needs identified during the evaluation. These resources may include state vocational rehabilitation programs, Department of Labor employment programs for disabled veterans, etc.
If you believe that you may be eligible for VR&E services, you can get started today by applying online.
Period of Eligibility
Like many VA benefits, VR&E has a limited period of eligibility. The basic period of eligibility for VR&E services is 12 years from the date of separation or the date the veteran was first notified by VA of a service-connected disability rating, whichever came later.
The basic period of eligibility may be extended if a VRC determines that a serious employment handicap exists.
VR&E Entitlement Details
Once your eligibility has been established, you will be scheduled to meet with a VRC for a comprehensive evaluation to determine if you are "entitled" to VR&E services. This entitlement evaluation includes the following:
- An assessment of the your interests, aptitudes, and abilities
- An assessment of whether service-connected disabilities impair your ability to find and/or hold a job using the occupational skills you have already developed
- Vocational exploration and goal development
If your counselor determines that you are eligible for benefits, they will work with you to:
- Select a VR&E program track leading to an employment or independent living goal
- Identify viable employment or independent living services options
- Determine transferable skills
- Explore labor market and wage information
- Identify physical demands and other job characteristics
- Narrow vocational options to identify an employment goal
- Investigate training requirements
- Identify resources needed to achieve rehabilitation
- Develop an individualized rehabilitation plan to achieve the identified employment or independent living goal
VR&E Rehabilitation Plan Details
A rehabilitation plan is an individualized, written outline of the services, resources and criteria that will be used to achieve successful rehabilitation. It is an agreement that is signed by the veteran and the VRC and is reviewed annually to determine whether any changes may be needed.
Depending on your circumstances, you will work with the VRC to select one of the following five tracks of services:
- Reemployment with a former employer
- Rapid employment services for new employment
- Employment through long-term services
- Independent living services
Implementing the VR&E Rehabilitation Plan
After a plan is developed and signed, your VRC will continue to work with you to implement the plan to achieve suitable employment or independent living. The VRC or case manager may coordinate services such as tutorial assistance, training in job-seeking skills, medical and dental referrals, adjustment counseling, payment of training allowance, if applicable, and other services as required to achieve rehabilitation.
In addition to receiving a monthly payment while attending training through VR&E, you may also qualify for a monthly subsistence allowance. This is paid each month during training and is based on rate of attendance (full or part time), number of dependents, and type of training. For example a full-time attendee with two dependents could receive up to $1,123.23 a month. View the current VR&E subsistence allowance rates.
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