Welcome, veterans, to our beginner’s guide to Veteran Readiness & Employment, formerly known as Vocational Rehabilitation. This blog post is designed to be used as a reference for those service members who wish to use their Chapter 31 benefits with us at Training Concepts. In this post we will cover who qualifies for VR&E, how to apply for it, and what to expect once the process begins. Let’s get started!
Who Qualifies for VR&E?
Typically, there are a few qualifications a veteran must meet to be eligible for VR&E. First, they must have a service-connected disability for which they received their last increase in disability rating within the last 12 years. Second, they need to be currently unemployed or underemployed (part time). Third, they would benefit from receiving vocational training for a career path that will make living and working with their disability easier. It’s worth mentioning that you do not need to have time remaining on your Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bill to take advantage of Chapter 31 benefits, but if you do have some time remaining, you may qualify for an increased training budget. Disability ratings as low as 10% qualify for VR&E, and you must not have a dishonorable discharge to receive the benefit.
Michael is an honorable veteran from the US. Navy. He exited service in 2015 with a 30% disability rating and was able to find work in a construction site. Unfortunately, Michael lost his job at the beginning of 2020. The reason for this can vary. Perhaps he was let go due to the dramatic unemployment rates brought on by COVID-19 or maybe he was unable to perform his job duties due to his disability. Fortunately, since Michael’s 30% disability rating was assigned to him in 2015, it has only been 5 years since his last increase (from 0 to 30%). He falls into the range of individuals who can qualify for Chapter 31. (If he had received an increase in his rating since then, say at an appointment with the VA from 30 – 60%, the 12-year window would start from that increase, instead.)
Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of whether you qualify for Chapter 31 Benefits. One other important thing to mention is that VR&E Counselors have a lot of agency with approving requests. If you find yourself on the cusp of qualifying, go ahead and apply anyway as your counselor may deem your situation appropriately qualified.
How do I apply?
Visit this link on the VA.gov website to apply for VR&E. There is a step by step process that the website will guide you through to submit your application. You must first log in with the credentials you use to regularly access the VA website, or create an account if you have not accessed it previously.
Note that there is also a section about applying for benefits if you have not yet received your disability rating.
What happens next?
The next step receiving your approval and being paired with a VR&E counselor in your local area. During the COVID-19 pandemic, your orientation session will be held virtually or over the phone. Once a determination is made for approval, you and your counselor will discuss how you would like to use your Chapter 31 benefits. Because Information Technology is career field with little to no physical exertion, most counselors will agree that it is a lucrative career choice to accommodate service-connected disabilities.
Put your counselor in touch with us! Let us talk with them for you if any questions or concerns arise. Let them know that Training Concepts is your school of choice, and we will take care of the rest. There may be a waiting period for funding to be approved and for your counselor to circle back with you. Typically, within just a couple of months your budget will be allocated, and you can begin taking classes with us.
For any additional information, visit the official VA webpage for more information about the VR&E process. There you can find information about the things your counselor will discuss with you, subsistence allowances, and more.
As always, the staff at Training Concepts is here to help you succeed. Reach out any time that you have questions or concerns concerning your VR&E application or school enrollment.