VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program (also known as: “Chapter 31 Benefits”, or VA ‘Voc-Rehab’) is an excellent way for service disabled Veterans to earn additional education, job placement assistance, and other work readiness assistance – allowing them to ultimately prepare for, find and/or keep suitable employment
Whether it is direct financial assistance for post-secondary training/education at a college, vocational, technical, or business school or just assistance in finding On-The-Job (OJT) or apprenticeships, this is a benefit many eligible Veterans never know about, apply for and utilize.
Veterans are eligible if they:
Have received, or will receive, a discharge that is other than dishonorable, or…have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10%, or a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). A Memorandum Rating is an ‘abbreviated’ rating decision that is done when there is no formal rating decision of record. The Memorandum Rating would confer no entitlement to compensation or any other VA benefit, but done for the purpose of VA Voc-Rehab, it would entitle you to this benefit (assuming you received the requisite 20% rating).
Basic period of Eligibility:
The basic period of eligibility is 12 years from the latter of the following: Date of separation from active military service, or the date the Veteran was first notified by VA of a service-connected disability rating. The basic period of eligibility may be extended if a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines that a Veteran has a Serious Employment Handicap
How to Apply
Apply online through the Veterans On-Line Application VONAPP website, or…
contact a Veterans Service Organization and ask to speak with a Service Officer for assistance with accessing VA Benefits.
Once you’ve applied and assuming you’re eligible for this program, you will meet with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC). The VRC will determine entitlement to the VR&E benefits and from this point you and the VRC will jointly develop a plan to address your rehabilitation and employment needs.
If, however, you are determined by the VRC to not be entitled to services, it is the VRC’s job to assist you in locating 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.”
VA VR&E website: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/
Every school that offers VA education benefits will have a School Certifying Official – they are the VA/School liaison responsible for coordinating VA education benefits, of which Chapter 31 – VocRehab is one. Contact a school that you’re interested in going to and they can give you more specific information on how Chapter 31 benefits are or have been most commonly applied there.