If you are a veteran who has a Department of Veterans Affairs disability rating and an employment handicap, you may be entitled to Veteran Readiness and Employment (previously known as Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment) services under Chapter 31 of the GI Bill (VR&E). These services include but are not limited to counseling, training, education and job placement assistance.
You may be eligible for many services through the VR&E program, such as:
- 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 or vocational, technical or business school
- Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling and referral
- Independent living services for veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities
Eligibility and entitlement for VR&E are two different things. You may meet eligibility criteria, yet not be entitled to services. The first step in the VR&E process is to be evaluated to determine if you qualify. To receive an evaluation for VR&E services, you must have an other-than-dishonorable discharge and a service-connected disability rating of at least 10% or a memorandum rating of at least 20%.
Period of Eligibility: Like many VA benefits, VR&E has a limited period of eligibility. The basic period of eligibility for VR&E is 12 years from the date of separation from active military service; or from the date the veteran was first notified by VA of a service-connected disability rating, whichever comes later.
The basic period of eligibility can be extended if VA determines that a veteran has a serious employment handicap.
VR&E Program/Process Overview
If you are eligible for an evaluation under the VR&E program, you must complete an application and meet with a veterans readiness counselor (VRC). If the VRC determines that an employment handicap exists as a result of a service-connected disability, you will be entitled to services.
You and the VRC will then continue counseling to select a track of services and jointly develop a plan to address your rehabilitation and employment needs.
You and your VRC will work together to:
- Determine your transferable skills, aptitudes, and interests
- Identify viable employment and independent living services options
- Explore labor market and wage information
- Identify physical demands and other job characteristics
- Narrow vocational options to identify a suitable employment goal
- Select a VR&E program track leading to an employment or independent living goal
- Investigate training requirements
- Identify resources needed to achieve rehabilitation
- Develop an individualized rehabilitation plan to achieve the identified employment and independent living goals
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 aren't entitled to services, they'll help you locate other resources to address any rehabilitation and employment needs identified during the evaluation. Referral to other resources may include state vocational rehabilitation programs; Department of Labor employment programs for disabled veterans; state, federal or local agencies providing services for employment or small business development; internet-based resources for rehabilitation and employment; and information about applying for financial aid.
Additional VR&E Benefits and Definitions
Subsistence Allowance: 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-time or part-time), number of dependents, and type of training. For example a full-time attendee with two dependents could receive up to $1,223.23 a month. Click here to view the current VR&E Subsistence Allowance Rates.
If you're eligible for both Veteran Readiness and Employment benefits and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, you can choose the Post-9/11 GI Bill’s monthly housing allowance instead of the VR&E subsistence allowance.
Employment handicap: An employment handicap is defined as an impairment of the veteran's ability to prepare for, get or keep employment consistent with their abilities, aptitudes, and interests. The impairment must result in large part from a service-connected disability.
Serious employment handicap (SEH): A serious employment handicap is defined as a significant impairment of a veteran's ability to prepare for, get or keep employment consistent with their abilities, aptitudes and interests. The SEH must result in the most part from a service-connected disability.
Note: For veterans rated at 10% disability and those whose 12-year period of basic eligibility has passed, they must have an SEH to be eligible for benefits.
Suitable employment: Work that is within a veteran's physical and emotional capabilities and is consistent with their abilities, aptitudes and interests.
Non-paid work experience (NPWE) program: NPWE provides eligible veterans the opportunity to obtain training and practical job experience at the same time. This program is ideal for veterans who have a clearly established career goal and who learn easily in a hands-on environment. This program is also well suited to veterans who are having difficulties obtaining employment due to lack of work experience. NPWE programs may be established in federal, state or local (e.g. city, town, school district) government agencies only. The employer may hire you at any point during the NPWE.
Learn more about VA's non-paid work experience (NPWE) program.
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