Veteran Readiness & Employment (Ch. 31)
Eligibility and Entitlement
Services that may be provided by the VR&E Program include:
- Comprehensive evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment
- Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services
- Employment services such as job-training, job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance
- Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives and job accommodations
- On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
- Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
- Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and medical referrals
- Independent living services for Veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities
Who is Eligible for VR&E Services?
Active Duty Servicemembers are eligible if they:
- Expect to receive an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge upon separation from active duty
- Obtain a memorandum rating of 20% or more from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and apply for VR&E services
Or (until December 31, 2015)
- Are participating in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) or are certified by the military as having a severe injury or illness that may prevent them from performing their military duties
- Apply for VR&E services, and report for an evaluation with a VR&E counselor before separating from active duty
Veterans are eligible if they:
- Have received, or will receive, a discharge that is other than dishonorable
- Have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10% from VA
- Apply for VR&E services
Basic Period of Eligibility
The basic period of eligibility ends 12 years from the date of notification of one of the following:
- Date of separation from active military service, or
- Date the veteran was first notified by VA of a service-connected disability rating.
- The basic period of eligibility may be extended if a Veteran Readiness Counselor (VRC) determines that a Veteran has a Serious Employment Handicap
What happens after eligibility is established?
The veteran is scheduled to meet with a VRC for a comprehensive evaluation to determine if he/she is entitled for services. A comprehensive evaluation includes:
- An assessment of the veteran’s interests, aptitudes, and abilities
- An assessment of whether service connected disabilities impair the veteran’s ability to find and/or hold a job using the occupational skills he or she has already developed
- Vocational exploration and goal development leading to employment and / or maximum independence at home and in the veteran’s community
What is an Entitlement Determination?
A VRC works with the veteran to complete a determination if an employment handicap exists. An employment handicap exists if the veteran’s service connected disability impairs his/her ability to obtain and maintain a job. Entitlement to services is established if the veteran has an employment handicap and is within his or her 12-year basic period of eligibility and has a 20% or greater service-connected disability rating.
If the service connected disability rating is less than 20%, or if the veteran is beyond the 12-year basic period of eligibility, then a serious employment handicap must be found to establish entitlement to VR&E services. A serious employment handicap is based on the extent of services required to help a veteran to overcome his or her service and non-service connected disabilities permitting the return to suitable employment.
What happens after the Entitlement Determination is made?
The veteran and VRC work together to:
- Determine transferable skills, aptitudes, and interests
- Identify viable employment and/or 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 Written Rehabilitation Plan (IWRP) to achieve the identified employment and/or independent living goals
What is a Readiness Plan?
A readiness plan is an individualized, written outline of the services, resources and criteria that will be used to achieve employment and / or independent living goals. The plan is an agreement that is signed by the veteran and the VRC and is updated as needed to assist the veteran to achieve his/her goals.
Depending on their circumstances, veterans will work with their VRC to select one of the following five tracks of services (see definitions for more detail):
- Reemployment (with a former employer)
- Direct job placement services for new employment
- Employment through long term services including OJT, college, and other training
- Independent living services
What happens after the Readiness Plan is developed?
After a plan is developed and signed, a VRC or case manager will continue to work with the veteran to implement the plan to achieve suitable employment and/or independent living. The VRC or case manager will provide ongoing counseling, assistance, and 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 help the veteran achieve rehabilitation.
How can I get paid the Post-9/11 GI Bill® rate for my Veteran Readiness & Employment Program?
A veteran participating in the VR&E program who qualifies for Post-9/11 GI Bill® benefits can elect to receive the GI Bill® rate of pay instead of the regular Chapter 31 subsistence allowance. In most cases, the GI Bill® rate is higher than the regular Chapter 31 rate of pay. To elect the GI Bill® rate, the veteran must have remaining eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill®, and must formally choose (or “elect”) the GI Bill® rate. Your VRC can help you with election. Veterans participating in the VR&E program who elect the Post-9/11 rate are paid at the 100% rate level for their school and training time, even if their Post-9/11 GI Bill® eligibility is less than 100%. Additional benefits are also available through the VR&E Program, such as full payment of all books, fees and supplies as well as other supportive services.