Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)

VA Vocational Rehabilitation is a program of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), helping veterans with service-connected disabilities as they transition to civilian life.

Known as VR&E, the Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation program is a type of transition assistance program that helps servicemembers gain employment after departing from the military. This program may also help servicemembers pursue additional training and educational opportunities to strengthen their skills and abilities and increase their chances of landing a job. If veterans cannot return to work due to their service-connected disability, the program will provide them with the skills they need to live independently.

As part of the Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation program, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRCs) and Employment Coordinators (ECs) work with qualifying veterans to assist them in finding post-service employment. Additionally, VRCs and ECs may help servicemembers to develop the skills they need to start a small business of their own. To learn more about this program and how to apply, review the following information.

What is the Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation Program?

The Vocational Rehab Veterans program helps to prepare military members with service-connected disabilities as they transition to civilian life, live independently, pursue new employment opportunities or enroll in an education or training program. For instance, Voc Rehab for Veterans includes benefits such as:

  • One-on-one counseling services. Qualifying veterans and servicemembers with disabilities receive counseling as part of the VR&E program, helping them to transition to civilian life while living with a service-connected disability. Additionally, VRCs and ECs help servicemembers to coordinate and pursue post-service employment, training and educational opportunities, while also helping them to create a plan for the future. Some dependents of servicemembers may qualify for these counseling services as well.
  • Employment assistance. If servicemembers are ready to enter the civilian workforce, the VA Vocab Rehabilitation program helps them to search for and secure suitable employment opportunities. The program may also assist servicemembers in obtaining on-the-job-training, work study or apprenticeship opportunities to help them develop new skills and interests. Additional benefits may include job placement assistance, resume development and access to other VA employment tools and resources.
  • Self-employment assistance. Vocational rehabilitation services for veterans may also include self-employment assistance, especially if a service-connected disability prevents veterans from obtaining traditional employment opportunities. As part of the VR&E program, servicemembers will create a plan for starting a small business and they will receive training for marketing and operating their new business.

Which servicemembers are eligible for the Veterans Rehabilitation Assistance Program?

Vocational training for veterans is available to qualifying active duty servicemembers and honorably-discharged veterans who meet eligibility requirements. However, these VA vocational rehab requirements vary slightly depending on whether the military member is an active duty servicemember or a veteran. For instance, active duty servicemembers must meet the following eligibility requirements in order to receive benefits under the VR&E program:

  • They expect to separate from active duty for honorable reasons.
  • They must meet the requirements of the National Defense Authorization Act or hold a service-connected disability.
  • The VA must provide them with an Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) rating of at least 20 percent.
  • They must apply for enrollment in the VR&E program.

Related Article: Veterans Educational Assistance

Moreover, the VA Vocational Rehabilitation program is also available to active duty servicemembers who participate in the IDES system, or those who obtain a certification from the military as holding a severe illness or injury that prevents them from performing their service-connected duties. However, these servicemembers must also undergo an evaluation with a VRC before they may separate from active duty and they must apply for enrollment in the VR&E program.

Which veterans are eligible for VA vocational rehab services?

To enroll in the VA vocational training program as a veteran, applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • They must have been discharged from their service for honorable reasons.
  • The VA must provide them with a service-connected disability rating of at least 10 percent.
  • They must hold a serious employment handicap (EH) that resulted from a service-connected disability (if their disability rating is no more than 10 percent).
  • They must apply for the VR&E program.

After qualifying for the VA rehab assistance program, veterans and servicemembers remain eligible for VR&E benefits for 12 years from the date on which they separated from their active military service or 12 years from the date on which they received notification of their disability rating from the VA. If veterans hold a serious employment handicap, however, a VRC may extend this basic eligibility period. For instance, the VA defines an employment handicap as an impairment that affects a veteran or servicemember’s ability to obtain and hold suitable employment.

How to Apply for the Veterans Rehabilitation Assistance Program

Servicemembers may apply for Veterans Vocational Rehabilitation in one of three ways. For instance, veterans may apply online through the eBenefits website, in person at a Regional VA office, or they may apply by mail. Regardless of the application method, veterans generally need to provide their full name, Social Security Number (SSN), gender, email address, birth date, phone number and mailing address when applying for VR&E benefits. Applicants also need to provide information about the veteran’s disability status and military service. If applicants are not veterans or servicemembers, however, they must also provide information about their relationship to the qualifying military member.

For additional vocational rehabilitation application information, review the sections below.

Online

To obtain benefits under the VA Vocational Rehab program, qualifying servicemembers may choose to apply online if they have internet access and they are registered in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). To get started, veterans must apply through the eBenefits website under the VA and the Department of Defense (DOD). Then, they must login to their eBenefits account with a DOD Self-Service username and password or a Common Access Card (COC). After logging in, veterans may apply for voc rehab services by selecting the “Apply” option and “Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits”.

By Mail or In Person

To obtain vocational rehabilitation services for veterans, servicemembers may also apply by mail or in person. To do so, they must complete a Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational Rehabilitation (VA Form 28-1900) to receive VR&E benefits or an Application for Counseling (VA Form 28-8832) to receive education/career counseling services.

Next, veterans must mail these forms to the attention of the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment department at their local VA Regional Office, or they may submit these forms in person. A full list of addresses and contact information for Regional Offices is available under the VA’s website.

Related Article: Veterans Unemployment Compensation

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