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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Chapter 3 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E), sometimes referred to as the Chapter 31 program, provides services to eligible Servicemembers and Veterans with service-connected disabilities to help them prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment or achieve independence in daily living.

Eligibility for Veterans

A Veteran must have a VA service-connected disability rating of at least 20 percent with an employment handicap, or rated 10 percent with a serious employment handicap, and be discharged or released from military service under other than dishonorable conditions.

Eligibility for Servicemembers

Servicemembers are eligible to apply if they expect to receive an honorable discharge upon separation from active duty, obtain a rating of 20 percent or more from VA, obtain a proposed Disability Evaluation System (DES) rating of 20 percent or more from VA, or obtain a referral to a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).

Entitlement

A Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) works with the Veteran to determine if an employment handicap exists. An employment handicap exists if a Veteran’s service-connected disability impairs his/her ability to prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable career employment. After an entitlement decision is made, the Veteran and VRC work together to develop a rehabilitation plan. The rehabilitation plan outlines the rehabilitation services to be provided.

Services

Based on their individualized needs, Veterans work with a VRC to select one of five tracks to employment. The Five Tracks to Employment provide greater emphasis on exploring employment options early in the rehabilitation planning process, greater informed choice for the Veteran regarding occupational and employment options, faster access to employment for Veterans who have identifiable and transferable skills for direct placement into suitable employment, and an option for Veterans who are not able to work, but need assistance to lead a more independent life. If a program of training is selected, VA pays the cost of the approved training and services (except those coordinated through other providers) that are included in an individual’s rehabilitation plan, including subsistence allowance.

The Five Tracks to Employment are:

Reemployment with Previous Employer

This track is for Veterans who served on active military service or in the National Guard or Reserves, and are now returning to employers for whom they worked prior to going on active duty.

Rapid Access to Employment

This track is for Veterans who express a desire to obtain employment as soon as possible and already have the necessary skills to qualify for competitive employment in a suitable career.

Self-Employment

This track is targeted to Veterans who have limited access to traditional employment, need flexible work schedules, or need a more accommodating work environment due to their disabling conditions or other life circumstances.

Employment through Long-Term Services

This track is targeted to Veterans who need long-term services, such as remedial or refresher courses, specialized training, and/or post- secondary education, to obtain and maintain suitable employment.

Independent Living Services

This track is for Veterans who are not currently able to work due to the effects of their disability, and services are needed to improve their independence in daily living.

Length of a Rehabilitation Program

The basic period of eligibility in which VR&E benefits may be used is 12 years from the later of the following:

  1. A Veteran’s date of separation from active military service, or
  2. The date VA first notified a Veteran that he/she has a compensable service-connected disability. Depending on the length of program needed, Veterans may be provided up to 48 months of full-time services or the part- time equivalent. Rehabilitation plans that only provide services to improve independence in daily living are limited to 30 months. These limitations may be extended in certain circumstances.

Subsistence Allowance

In some cases, a Veteran may require additional education or training to become employable. A subsistence allowance is paid each month during training and is based on the rate of attendance (full-time or part-time), the number of dependents, and the type of training. (See Chart on Page 46)

Veterans who are eligible for both VR&E services and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits may elect a special subsistence allowance that is based on the monthly basic allowance for housing paid to active duty military. The monthly amount varies depending on the ZIP code of the training facility and is usually greater than the following regular subsistence allowance rates that are available to Veterans with no Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility who are using VR&E benefits. Active-duty Servicemembers are not eligible for subsistence allowance until after release from active duty.

Employment Services

VR&E staff assists Veterans and Servicemembers with achieving their employment goals by providing job development and placement services, which include: on-the-job training, job-seeking skills, resume development, interviewing skills and direct placement. VR&E has partnerships with federal, state and private agencies to provide direct placement of Veterans or Servicemembers. VR&E can assist with placement using the following resources:

On the Job Training (OJT) Program

Employers hire Veterans at an apprentice wage, and VR&E supplements the salary up the journeyman wage (up to maximum allowable under OJT). As the Veterans progress through training, the employers begin to pay more of the salary until the Veterans reach journeyman level and the employers are paying the entire salary. VR&E will also pay for any necessary tools. Employers are also eligible for a federal tax credit for hiring an individual who participated in a vocational rehabilitation program.

Non-Paid Work Experience (NPWE)

The NPWE program provides eligible Veterans the opportunity to obtain training and practical job experience concurrently. This program is ideal for Veterans or Servicemembers who have a clearly established career goal, and who learn easily in a hands-on environment. This program is also well suited for Veterans who are having difficulties obtaining employment due to lack of work experience. The NPWE program may be established in a federal, state, or local (i.e. city, town, school district) government agencies only. The employer may hire the Veteran at any point during the NPWE.

Special Employer Incentive (SEI)

The SEI program is for eligible Veterans who face challenges in obtaining employment. Veterans approved to participate in the SEI program are hired by participating employers and employment is expected to continue following successful completion of the program. Employers may be provided this incentive to hire Veterans. If approved, the employer will receive reimbursement for up to 50 percent of the Veteran’s salary during the SEI program, which can last up to six months.

VR&E Subsistence Allowance Rates

Training Time No dependents One dependent Two dependents Each Additional dependent
Institutional* Full-Time $594.47 $737.39 $868.96 $63.34
3/4-Time $446.67 $553.85 $649.68 $48.71
1/2-Time $298.88 $370.30 $435.27 $32.50
Farm Co-op Apprentice OJT** Full-Time $519.77 $628.55 $724.41 $47.12
3/4-Time $446.67 $553.85 $649.68 $48.71
Training 1/2-Time $298.88 $370.30 $435.27 $32.50
Training 1/4-Time $149.41 $185.17 $217.64 $16.21
Training Time No dependents One dependent Two dependents Each Additional dependent
Independ. Living Full-Time $594.47 $737.39 $868.96 $63.34
3/4-Time $446.67 $553.85 $649.68 $48.71
1/2-Time $298.88 $370.30 $435.27 $32.50

 

The Veterans Employment Center (www.ebenefits.va.gov/ ebenefits/jobs) is the federal government’s single authoritative online source for connecting transitioning Servicemembers, Veterans, and military families with meaningful career opportunities with both public and private-sector employers.

Job seekers can use the site to translate their military skills into civilian skills that employers can understand, post a public resume that is searchable by employers, and conduct a job search for both public and private-sector positions. Employers can use the site to post job opportunities, search verified resumes, make public commitments to hire Veterans, and obtain additional hiring and employment resources. All referral links direct job seekers to the employer’s website and their unique job application system.

VetSuccess On Campus (VSOC)

The VSOC program is designed to assist Veterans as they make the transition to college life. Through the VSOC program, VR&E is strengthening partnerships with institutions of higher learning and creating opportunities to help Veterans achieve success by providing outreach and transition services to the general Veteran population during their transition from military to college life.

The VSOC program provides:a VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor assigned to each VSOC school to provide vocational testing and career, academic, and readjustment counseling services, and a VA Vet Center Outreach Coordinator, co-located on many campuses, to provide peer-to-peer counseling and referral services.

VSOC counselors ensure that Veterans receive the support and assistance needed to pursue their educational and employment goals. Because the VSOC counselors are easily accessible on campuses, they help resolve any problems that could potentially interfere with a Veteran’s educational program, to include assisting with disability requirements. If needed, they can also provide referrals for health services through VA Medical Centers, Community-Based Outpatient Clinics, or Vet Centers.

Current VSOC locations include

American River College, Arizona State University, Austin Community College, Austin Peay State University – Clarksville, Bellevue University, Bluegrass Community College, Boise State University, California State University – LA, California State University-Long Beach, Central New Mexico Community College, Central Texas College, Citrus College, Cleveland State University, Community College of Rhode Island, East Carolina University, Eastern Kentucky University, Eastern Michigan University, Ecpi University, Florida International University, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Florida State University, George Mason University, George Washington University, Harrisburg Area Community College, Hawaii Pacific University, Houston Community College, Irvine Valley College, Johnson County Community College, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kellogg Community College, LA City College, Leeward Community College, Liberty University, Lone Star College System-University Park, Long Beach City College, Middle Tennessee State University, Middlesex Community College, Midlands Technical College, Mira Costa College, Mt. San Antonio College, Norfolk State University, Northern Virginia Community College – Alexandria, Northern Virginia Community College – Annandale, Northwest Arkansas College, Northwest Florida State College, Old Dominion University, Pasadena City College, Portland Community College, Portland State University, Rhode Island College, Rutgers University, Saddleback College, Salt Lake Community College, Sam Houston State University, San Antonio College, San Diego State University, Santa Fe Community College, Southwestern Illinois College, St. Leo University - South Hampton, Syracuse University, Tallahassee Community College, Tarrant County College District-NorthEast, Tarrant County College District-South, Texas A&M University - College Station, Texas A&M University-Central Texas, The Ohio State University, Tidewater Community College - Virginia Beach, Tidewater Community College –Chesapeake, Tidewater Community College –Portsmouth, Tidewater Community College-Norfolk, Troy University, University of Alabama, University of Alaska – Anchorage, University of Arkansas, University of Cincinnati, University of Florida, University of Hawaii- Manoa, University of Houston, University of Illinois – Champaign, University of Kentucky, University of Maryland - University College, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, University of Nebraska (Omaha), University of Nevada - Las Vegas, University of New Mexico, University of South Florida, University of Texas – Arlington, University of Texas-San Antonio, University of Utah, University of West Florida, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, Washtenaw Community College, Webster University-St. Louis, and Western Michigan University

Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES)

VR&E is providing earlier access to VR&E benefits to wounded, ill or injured Servicemembers pending a medical separation from military service. VRCs are assigned to military installations hosting an IDES site and provide VR&E services to assist Servicemembers in the transition from active-duty to entering the labor market in viable careers. At these sites, Servicemembers will have a mandatory meeting with a VRC when referred to the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB). Servicemembers receive services ranging from a comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine abilities, skills and interests for employment purposes; entry into training programs; and case management and support to become job ready and employed.

Current IDES locations include

Ft. Meade, Patuxent River NMC, Ft. Drum, New England NHC, West Point, McGuire AFB, Ft. Benning, Ft. Gordon, Ft. Stewart, Robins AFB, Beaufort NH, Ft. Jackson, Charleston NH, Shaw AFB, Fort Knox, Pensacola NH, Maxwell AFB, Fort Rucker, Redstone Arsenal, Ft. Campbell, Ft. Eustis, Portsmouth NMC, Ft. Lee, Langley JB, Jacksonville NH, MacDill AFB, Bethesda NNMC/WRAMC, Quantico NHC, Andrews AFB, Ft. Belvoir, Camp Lejeune, Ft. Bragg, Seymour Johnson AFB, Cherry Point NH, Fort Buchanan, Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio JB ( Lakeland), Little Rock AFB, Ft. Sill, Sheppard AFB, Tinker AFB, Ft. Polk, Ft. Leonard Wood, Ft. Bliss, Ft. Hood, Dyess AFB, Ft. Riley, Kirtland AFB, Richardson JB, Ft. Wainwright, Elmendorf AFB, Ft. Carson, F.E. Warren AFB, Peterson AFB, Schofield Barracks, Tripler AMC, Ft. Irwin, 29 Palms, Travis AFB, Lemoore NH, Ft. Huachuca, Davis-Monthan AFB, Luke AFB, Nellis AFB, Hill AFB, San Diego NMC, Camp Pendleton, Ft. Lewis, Bremerton NH, Oak Harbor NH, and Fairchild AFB

Additional information on VR&E benefits is available at www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab

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