Overview: Here is the take away for the disabled veterans thinking of using Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation who are reading this. I was in Voc Rehab training from 2003-2007 the first time around; completed a bachelors degree at a private university; and received financial aid.
My Vocational Rehabilitation training broke down while looking for work after graduation. I took a job outside of my Voc Rehab training direction due, in part, to not receiving guidance from my Voc Rehab Counselor.
My situation when entering Voc Rehab
- Disability rating: 20%
- Education level: high school diploma
- Time in service: 5 years
- Requested goal: Lawyer
- Goal agreed on: Manager
- Cost difference for Voc Rehab
- Lawyer – 7 years: tuition + stipend = $300,000
- Manager – 4 years: tuition + stipend = $170,000
Voc Rehab Rule #1
Always request a copy of your file after an adverse decision from a Voc Rehab Counselor or Counseling Psychologist.
My first round of VA Voc Rehab was between 2003 to 2007. I first requested a Voc Rehab IWRP goal of Lawyer but the counselor told me Voc Rehab does not pay for law school. Instead, we settled on a goal of Management. I requested to attend a private college, but the counseling psychologist told me they would not approve a private education if the local universities offered the same program. Luckily, the college had a program not offered at the public university. I told the psychologist I wanted to study Business Communication and was approved.
While at the college, I decided I’d rather study Economics. This was offered at the public university, but since I was already enrolled in classes, the new Voc Rehab Counselor did not make me switch universities. What a deal! I continued to on to complete my degree at Northwestern University and the training portion of Voc Rehab.
After completing my degree, the only job I could find was within Commercial Insurance. I had asked my new Voc Rehab Counselor about graduate schooling. She told me, “no way.”
I worked within the Insurance Industry for 10 months and lost the job. I re-approached Voc Rehab for help and requested a copy of my file. Within the file, I found an email chain between my initial Voc Rehab Counselor and the counselor who took over my case. The email proved that Voc Rehab could have approved the goal of Lawyer, despite what my counselor told me.
After further investigating my Voc Rehab file, I realized I was deemed to be “rehabilitated” inappropriately. I appealed the decision and was cleared to use Chapter 31 Voc Rehab a second time. However, I was not initially approved to attend Law School. The initial position was this, “We will not pay for you to attend law school. We will pay for you to get an MBA, but other disabled veterans were unable to successfully complete Law School and pass the Bar.”
Read how I gained Voc Rehab approval for Law School by clicking here.