One veteran recently wrote in about an unfortunate experience with VA Voc Rehab – he was denied because he graduated from one of the US military academies. Was this correct?
There are a surprising number of veterans who fall into this group. It’s not just an Academy thing. Many VA Voc Rehab counselors believe that well trained people should not be eligible for help from VA Voc Rehab.
However, the regulations are relatively clear about who does and does not qualify for Voc Rehab. It does not matter whether you have a degree from Yale or the University of Phoenix; if your service connected disability interferes with your ability to hold gainful employment, you should qualify for benefits.
The veteran I referred to before said his counselor told him, “[T]hat since I have a degree from [an academy] that I can get a job anywhere.”
First of all, the claim by the counselor is false. Having a degree of any kind or quality does not guarantee employment for many reasons.
- Person is too disabled
- Accommodations are too expensive
- Person has behavioral issues after combat
Second, many well trained people used VA Voc Rehab.
As I understand it, West Point alumni Dawn Halfaker used VA Voc Rehab after losing her arm in combat. She worked at DARPA after serving in Iraq. She went on to use VA Voc Rehab to my knowledge and is now a successful business owner.
Senator Jim Webb used VA Voc Rehab to obtain his law degree after serving as an officer in Vietnam. Senator Webb was a leader for veteran causes in the US Senate for many years.
The problem here is that people in VA, including VA Voc Rehab, can tend to just say stuff [sic] without having any factual basis or justification.
A good response to a counselor who pulls that crap is to ask him/her what they are basing their decision on. A counselor must base any decision on the factual issues unique to each veteran’s case. A failure to do that is a violation of their duties.
Any time a VA Voc Rehab Counselor makes a claim that sounds fishy, be sure to ask them what facts or reports they are using to make their decision. It only takes doing that a few times before the counselor in question will become more cooperative.
Veterans wanting to learn more may want to check out my book, the Voc Rehab Survival Guide. It has helped out a ton of veterans who struggled with a stubborn counselor.