Recently, a VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor made some rather surly comments on my website about me – par for the course really. I mean, if you’re doing your job, you’re going to piss some people off within the system. She claimed the VA Voc Rehab program operates smoothly and that veterans get what they are entitled to. No problems. No hang ups. Puppy dogs and ice cream for everyone.
Yawn – but what got me were there reactions of veterans when I posted it on Facebook.
Every Friday, I pick my favorite Facebook conversation from a group I founded back in 2009. It’s called Disabled Veterans – Chapter 31 Voc Rehab and has over 1,200 members. My goal with publishing the convo here is to lend some insight from the group to those veterans without Facebook accounts or nonmembers to the group.
My favorite conversation last week was the Voc Rehab Counselor challenge. Check it out here http://on.fb.me/UVMhLA to see what vets had to say for yourself. Here is the rest of the story.
She claimed these 5 points were easy “slam dunks” for veterans. I asked veterans what they thought on Facebook – and you can imagine how the comments were across the board. Here is what she claimed was easy to do for vets:
1) It is easy to change your counselor
2) It is easy for a veteran to change their IWRP goal, even if it requires more schooling
3) It is easy for a veteran to gain approval for an undergraduate and graduate degree, both
4) Proving the validity of a labor market forecast is not required, never has been
5) Retroactive induction is easy to get for disabled veterans prior to entry into VR&E
From what I know, her claims may be true in her own office but they are not true across the nation.
This is not the first time I’ve received a message like this – they call me a liar, fibber, so on and so forth – but they never challenge me to a real debate – and they never support their own claims with facts, policy papers, or statistics. When I ask them to back up their statements, they cower back into anonymity. I did a little research and figured out who this Voc Rehab Counselor is, but that’s not really relevant.
What is relevant is that she was fired up about some of the statements I made on my website back in 2010 about the policies of Voc Rehab at the time. One thing to keep in mind is that policies do change year to year. Director Ruth Fanning has worked tirelessly to reform the Voc Rehab program over the past few years prior to her formal departure this week. Director Fanning has changed some of the problems I have previously written about – but there are still more problems to solve.
The program still does not inform veterans of the rules and expectations in a easy to understand manner. That’s my big beef with the program. And that beef continues. I’ve flown to DC to directly address that one issue. I’ve written a book for veterans in the program, called The Voc Rehab Survival Guide, because the VA will not provide the guidance many veterans need to succeed within the program.
Here is what veterans like you had to say about our mystery counselor’s claims:
Matt Nuclear explosion going off in my head right now. Are they freaking kidding???
Skip all 5 are the biggest bullshit I have ever heard. You can not do any of this without being dropped from the program.
Benjamin Krause The counselor claims its all chocolate milk rivers and skittles rainbows in VA Vocational Rehabilitation. I’m trying to figure out if the VA is just putting on a disinfo campaign or what?
Cyndi They make it sound like chocolate rivers and skittles rainbows til you actually get down to the nitty gritty. Then you got your waders on to get thru the river of bs and there’s a Demon Leprechaun taking a crap on your pot of gold. That’s the truth of VA Voc Rehab. Speaking from experience
Skip Your hunch is right I was on voc rehab in 2007n for information technology. I was on it for 1 year. I never got a job out of it. I was suppose to end it in 2008. I didn’t here from them until 2012 when they told me that they are ending my career plans due to not finishing my program. I went to them back in 2010 and they told me that I already had finished the program. They are so out of touch with the vets it is not funny.
Debi I had to go over my counselors head….the next semester I had the computer I needed to do my homework at home…and she even through in a printer…..after that never had a problem with her
Randy If this is true I want him as a counselor!! I had to fight tooth and nail finally gave up and am running my GI bill dry then I may fight again
Ray I had some of that experience too Skip! Smoke and mirrors to make you think they are working for you, but zero results! Just so everyone knows, I was very positive about the VA until I experienced the VA. And to be clear, this bitterness is only because of the benefits/service/claims side, not the medical side. I am quite happy with my VA doctor and healthcare. But, the way we are treated between the medical side and the claims/benefits side is like night and day!
Janie Is that counselor on crack? They are not cooperating with the veterans. If they are saying they are? I will tell them what liars they are and when pigs fly.
Benjamin Krause Yeah, Darrell, I’m hoping you do go there. This can go one of two ways. Either this 1 counselor is amazing, but meanwhile completely ignorant of how vets are being treated elsewhere, or, 2, the supposed counselor is working a PsyOps.
Justin 1-4 total bullshit! also they try to nix us from online classes which really mesh with my life right now. As for retroactive induction.. what it that?
Matthew You know I’ve dealt with some great counselors at the VA. Now I know that’s not the norm (or doesn’t appear to be) but it also appears to me many are a little blind to the VA bureaucracy.
Petra #1 I think is a challenge but the rest I have seen easily done.
Benjamin Krause Thanks Petra. I guess I’m hoping to get an aggregate – what is normal across the board versus a one or two off experience. Regarding question 2, it is not supposed to be “easy” to change your IWRP goal according to the regs. Question 5, according to the regs, you should not get RI unless you had applied for VR&E and were wrongly denied but then went to school anyway.
Petra I know I have seen #2 change if the disability worsen of the labor market change # 5 re entry approved only by a supervisor almost the same requirements. Example a vet that is going for “human services” Social Work that gets a BA but finds that almost all the jobs requires a master may get approval to obtain one. I find myself in that category and gathering the information since I graduate March 2014. I refuse to wait until the last minute them complain it is their fault. So I am doing the market research to validate my claim for the degree and time to appeal if necessary.
Benjamin Krause I mean, for #5, Retroactive Induction is when they pay for the tuition / training funds I paid out of pocket prior to applying for VR&E. The counselor claims she was able to pay for previous training even though the vet had not applied for VR&E.
Steve #1) In my experience is next to impossible. Even when you contact the director of all the VRCs within your state they still look for reasons to deny your request for a change. #4) My (at that time) counselor told me she was withholding any approval until I completed – to her satisfaction – a labor market forecast. She gave me 48 hours, told me it had to be typed and professionally edited, then warned me my future was dependent on my presentation to her. Funny how the HUGE ego goes along with doing little to nothing of actual work. I later learned she had taken weeks of stress leave, even as she told me any veteran claiming PTSD was just out to milk the system dry and should be charged with theft of government property. She was a witch. With a capital B.
Mick CFR 21.94 applies to #2. It says: (a) General. The veteran, the counseling psychologist or the vocational rehabilitation specialist may request a change in the plan at any time.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 3107(b) )
(b) Long-range goals. A change in the statement of a long-range goal may only be made following a reevaluation of the veteran’s rehabilitation program by the counseling psychologist. A change may be made when:
(1) Achievement of the current goal(s) is no longer reasonably feasible; or
(2) The veteran’s circumstances have changed or new information has been developed which makes rehabilitation more likely if a different long-range goal is established; and
(3) The veteran fully participates and concurs in the change.
Benjamin Krause Mick, would you simply say that “it is easy” to change the long-range goal? And, is it easy for the veterans to get an extension from 4 years to 6 years of training from VR&E?
Mick No. Not in my experience. Not without there being a change of circumstance making the current goal infeasible.
Benjamin Krause So, if I wake up one day and decide to change my career goal, that probably won’t work for me? What about the labor market forecast?
Mick And – Retroactive induction cannot be prior to the date the 1900 was received (logged into the “system”. I can’t remember any regulatory requirement for LMI, although we were sometimes “required” to document employment forecast.
Benjamin Krause So, does this statement ring true, or maybe she did not follow the law on the last sentence? “Veterans have no problem getting four or six year degrees if that is what is needed for their particular career field. For example, I have a veteran currently finishing his masters in human resources. I even paid for classes that he took BEFORE he was in a rehab plan with me, because he still had his service connected disability at that time.”
Now, I know MY counselors don’t have time to read stuff like this and worry about who is saying what on what fb page or the internet. How this counselor have time? She should unruffle their feathers and stick to doing their job.
Carlos No. 5 is a NO. My VRC had my paperwork before the semester started and did not have me sign it until after the semester was over but had assured me that they would go back retroactively so I would get my subsistence allowance. Yeah, right. She told me later that she had “asked and was denied” it from her supervisor. I ended paying everything myself.
Scott My Voc Rehab counselor FINALLY got fired. I found out about it when my new counselor called. Turns out I wasn’t the only one not getting anything done.