The Biggest Mistake Veterans Make – Trust

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Image from VA.gov.
Image from VA.gov.

This is the top problem disabled veterans have with VA Vocational Rehabilitation. I made this mistake. Many of you have made this mistake. Blind trust can get you bounced out of the Voc Rehab Counselor’s officer with a firm denial quicker than [insert your favorite metaphor].

Today, I just read a message from a veteran on the subject:

“Hello Benjamin I would like to talk to you about how unfair I was treated while trying to apply for Voc Reb. I am qualified but the Voc Rehab counselor did everything he could to undermine my interest in the program. In his reports he told lies. He was a very angry man and he was unprofessional. What recourse do I have?”

 

How Trust Can Kill Your Voc Rehab Claim

This disabled veteran went into the meeting fully trusting that that Voc Rehab Counselor would treat her fairly. She expected him to be kind, to listen, and to treat her like a client. This is where the veteran went wrong.

There is a dirty little secret about the first Vocational Rehabilitation meeting. While veterans think the meeting is supposed to be all about them, the reality is even closer to the truth. The first Voc Rehab meeting is a forensic examination – not a warm and fuzzy meeting to talk about your dreams.

In my guide, the Voc Rehab Survival Guide, we talk about the need to do your research prior to the first meeting. The dirty secret – the forensic meeting – means that the first meeting is conducted with the purpose of creating a legal record about the veteran that can be used for legal purposes.

The Voc Rehab Counselor, usually a clinical psychologist, will intentionally push the buttons of the disabled veteran during the meeting almost every time. The veteran writing in above was caught off guard by her counselor. My old counselor caught me off guard. It happens all the time.

A forensic examination is an exam that is allowable, but it should be conducted only with the consent of the person being examined. Unfortunately, the Dept of Veterans Affairs has not yet decided that they need disabled veterans to consent to examinations – or at least with informed consent.

 

Informed Consent and the Commission on Rehabilitation

What the Veterans Administration does not realize is that I figured out a way to push back. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors Certification is given by an organization that governs Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors by providing a certification process. Once certified, the counselor is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. This certification requires the counselor to abide by the Commission’s CRC / CRCC Code of Ethics.

While the Veterans Administration may refuse to take action against bad counselors, the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors may investigate a well-grounded claim. In Code of Ethics page 15, the Code explains the rights of evaluees, which includes a requirement for informed consent. So, the veteran who wrote in today complaining about her counselor may have grounds for forming a complaint with the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselors.

When it comes to trust, never trust anyone when it comes to your VA benefits. Always take ownership over your own claim and do your own research on everything. The only person who has to live with the result of your claim is you, not the veteran service officer and not the VA employee. Trust yourself and your own mind to made decisions that are best for you.

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10 Comments

  1. Very impressed with your efforts to inform veterans of this countries promise to them. Being a veteran of two branches myself I have counseled hundreds of active duty and discharged veterans on how to preserve their benefits and each one that I spoke with was as unaware as the last. This to me was a very sad thing to imagine how different their lives could be with just a few more choices than a discharge certificate and a nudge toward the door at the end of their service. But because things are the way they are most veterans don’t get those extra and well deserved choices.I was never employed to counsel veterans but was very troubled to see so many about to enter the boat I was in when I got out of the Marines. I never felt like I could speak to enough people or give them all the information they needed. I threatened many times to publish a book and donate the proceeds to veterans groups but never did. It is good to see that you have realized many of the same things as I. Keep up the good work and know that you do have a lot of support out here!

  2. I am very concerned and dont know who to trust. I was in Voc rehab for a year without A written plan because i was waiting on a waiting list for a school to enter a program. During this time i decided to make a change to the health care field, its exciting to me. I told my counslour and she said she was on board i needed to start researching again. I check out the hospitals and talk to some radiological technologist. I found a school and i told her my start date was in 6 months. she said okay i will schedule you for another meeting with me 3 months from now.
    Well i had the appointment on Aug 1st, i called to reschedule but nobody answered, i left and left numerous messages. By august 15th i finally reached someone and they got ahold of my counselour, she acted like she had memory loss and told me” Brandon you haven’t moved forward in a year i dropped you from the program but you can reapply”. Well long story short i had words with her and moved on to the DAV. The DAV talked with them and said it would be quicker for me to just reapply than wait on a VOC REHAB Hearing.

    SO MY QUESTION IS, I START SCHOOL IN 2 MONTHS NOW, DOES ANYONE THINK THEY WILL RE-APPROVE ME OR ARE THEY YANKING MY CHAIN??

    [email protected] or
    [email protected]

  3. Wow I can’t believe what you guys wrote, I thought it was just me having a bad experiance with the counseler I had he was always rude never want to work with the program I wanted and in the end got me booted from the program for following his directives. I wish I had read about this 13 years ago when I first tryed getting voc rehab.

  4. This article is very true and I wish I would have read it before my first visit. Because it was clear to me that because of my PTSD Voc Rehab was not for me. My counselor wanted me to go through a 8 months Easter Seal program. I tried it for a good three weeks I couldnt believe they were letting veterans go through that program. We were considered Consumers! Really! I am so greatful I had my Post 911 to fall back on.

    For anyone who go to your first appointment please say calm during this process, it is a game and a joke. i don’t understand why we have to go through all the drama to get our hard earned benefits.

  5. I really haven’t had a problem with my voc rehab counselor at ft Campbell will I have been getting ready to med board. I just don’t understand why these people decide to work for the VA and then deliberately screw over soldiers.

  6. There’s an evil that lurks behind the friendly title. Really. If there’s an exhausted category in the health care field it’s those with mental health titles: phychologists, counselors, clinical social works etc… Worse because none of them seem to be Vets. That would be a perfect position for a Disabled Veteran. It is unfortunate that one not only has to suffer the claim process, but to suffer the benefit process like one is sucking off the system insults the veteran’s service.

    The system should have more vets helping vets. A long time ago that’s how it was. It worked and don’t know why it changed.

    Me? Wouldn’t even want to deal with the process. Thanks for the heads – up.

  7. I am an 80% service-disabled veteran and live in Alaska. After five years of applying for vocational rehabilitation (and being denied or told repeatedly by the head of the vocational rehabilitation department at the Anchorage VA Clinic that I was fully employable if I were to go to Wall Mart to apply for work), I was finally offered two voc rehab programs NEITHER of which are offered anywhere in Alaska. The best I can do is relocate to Seattle, WA. But the VA regulations do not permit VA reimbursement for relocation anywhere, not even to the nearest campus offering the training that’s been approved when the curriculum is not offered in the state of the veteran’s residence.

    In my case, no other veteran in the entire country having the exact same approved VA vocational rehabilitation program is REQUIRED to pay $9,000.00 to get to the campus offering the curriculum I am approved to take. The VA will pay mileage to the campus or one airline ticket there, but there are no funds to get my vehicle, service animals, and household goods from Anchorage to Seattle.

    Alaska’s US Senator Mark Begich, who is on the Senate’s Veterans Affairs committee, has informed me through his staff that he is unwilling to do anything to benefit me in this instance. His policy analyze suggested that I look for an on-line program or ask for a different educational program.

    I have contacted the VFW, Purple Heart, NFL, MOAA, VoteVets, grants.gov, Gary Sanise Foundation, Martha Stewart Foundation, GoFundMe.com, Allen Family Foundation, and every other possible foundation in order to request financial assistance.

    Today I watched a program that discussed how people sell their internal organs for various reasons. If I cannot get reasonable assistance from the VA or other agencies soon, this will be my next step. If I sell a kidney in the next month, I can be in good enough shape to start classes in August.

    It is a real shame that it has come to this!

    • School starts in August. Does anybody have any advice as to how I can resolve my dilemma?

  8. I just went to see my voc rehab counselor today, she never answers my emails or the phone. I haven’t gotten my VRE stipend and really need it. They were in training so I told the receptionist I would wait. The receptionist gets an attitude with me and says are you going to be here long I’m on a conference call. I listened and it’s not a conference call she was watching TV on the internet at her desk. I’m going back tomorrow and I’m afraid of what is going to happen. My counselor is actually not too bad the other counselors in there are a nightmare. The receptionist is really unprofessional and disrespectful. I just have a year and a half of school and I’m done. I don’t like this program, it’s too much unnecessary drama.

    • HELLO!, I MYSELF, HAVE BEEN GOING TO COGNITIVE TRAINING FOR ABOUT 9 MONTHS, MY COUNSELOR, KEEPS PROMISING ME MY STIPEN PAY, SHE SAIDS KEEP CHECKING YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, I DONT KNOW WHY, SHE KEEPS LYING TO ME, IN 9, MONTHS, I THINK THAT IS AMPLE ENOUGH TIME TO HAVE GOTTON THAT TAKEN CARE OF.
      CAN YOU SUSJEST SOMEONE I MAY CONSULT WITH, FOR HELP WITH THIS PROBLEM?
      EVERYONE ESLE IS GETTING PAID BESIDES MYSELF….
      I WANT TO KNOW WHATS REALLY GOING ON. THANK YOU FOR ANY ADVICE, YOU CAN GIVE ME.

      JLR

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