Vocational Rehabilitation

by Levi Newman on July 29, 2010

For wounded veterans and military personnel on active duty, there’s a Congress-approved program aimed at helping our country’s heroes get employed. The VetSuccess program aids our proud men and women with service-connected disabilities by assisting in job preparation, seeking and maintenance.

Vocational rehabilitation counselors (VRC) work with veterans to find jobs that suit the skills they developed in the service and their interests. Counselors evaluate whether service-related disabilities hurt veterans’ chances of getting employed or keeping a job. Since no two veterans experience the same thing, counselors develop individualized rehabilitation plans with veterans.

Each plan is a written outline, specific to one veteran. It focuses on how the veteran will achieve employment and/or independent living goals with the help of certain resources. Veterans sign their plan with their counselor, and update the plan as needed to ensure goals are met. There are five tracks of service from which the veteran can choose:

New employment

-Reemployment

-Self-employment

-Independent living services

-Long-term services (on-the-job-training, college) to boost employment chances

VRCs don’t co-develop the plan with veterans and send them on their way. They work with veterans to accomplish employment or independent living goals as laid out in the plan. Counselors and case managers offer job-hunting tips, adjustment counseling, referrals to doctors and dentists, and other services as needed.

Eligible service members cannot be dishonorably discharged. A 10-percent service-connected disability rating is required for veterans. Active-duty personnel need at least a 20-memorandum rating from the VA, which is a criterion that suffices for veterans in lieu of a service-connected disability rating.

VetSuccess services can be used within 12 years of when the VA notified veterans of a service-connected disability rating, or since leaving active duty. For veterans outside the 12-year window or who lack a disability rating of at least 20 percent, there’s still a chance they can use VetSuccess.

Veterans who do not meet these criteria must have a serious employment handicap (SEH), which must stem in part from a service-connected disability. An SEH must greatly mar a veteran’s ability to seek, get and sustain a job.
Service members who wish to get started with VetSuccess can do so online at the program’s website.

Photo thanks to tonythemisfit under creative common license on Flickr.

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