The key to getting the most out of your VA benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is to get educated about the VA benefits you seek because that will, in most instances, make most VA employees love you. Why, you might ask?
The answer is simple. The less clueless your are and the more information you provide that is actually useful, the less work your counselor has to do to approve your case.
Contrary to what some politicians and VA employees believe, getting the full amount of the benefits you are owed is rarely a walk in the park. Even for the most veteran friendly VA employees, sometimes a veteran’s facts just do not line up nicely with the laws, regulations, and rules VA employees are supposed to follow.
A great way to work beyond this problem is to make sure you understand the benefits you seek by reading the rules VA requires its own employees to follow. By reviewing VA Voc Rehab rules in its M28R manual, you will learn:
- Key terminology VA is familiar with
- Key procedures VA is supposed to follow
- Key pitfalls that uneducated veterans fall into
When I say “uneducated” above, I am merely referring to veterans who are uneducated about the VA benefits they are seeking. Many times, VA employees complain that most veterans coming to them are totally clueless about the benefit. This is particularly true with VA Vocational Rehabilitation since the VA’s website is so vague about the benefit.
Many VA Voc Rehab Counselors fall all over themselves when they meet with veterans who are goal oriented and educated about the benefit. This means that the key to success for many veterans is to differentiate themselves from vets who are uneducated about their VA benefits or the process.
That is why I wrote the guide, The VA Voc Rehab Survival Guide, and why I spent a ton of hours downloading and paginating VA’s own manual on the benefit, called the M28R.
Do not get me wrong, there is a ton of stuff the M28R does not cover, and much of the 1,400 pages within the PDF are totally irrelevant. However, if you are seeking things like self-employment benefits, training for professional careers like being an attorney, doctor, etc, it is vital to at least have a copy of the M28R downloaded for quick reference.
It has been my experience that many Voc Rehab Counselors have never fully thumbed through the huge guide. And even if they had, it would be impossible to keep up with the constant updates VA Central Office pushes out.
Nonetheless, it is up to you to get educated about your benefits, to know the key terms, and to understand the process. For veteran new to the process of getting Voc Rehab benefits, the M28R will give you key insights as will the 38 CFR Part 21.1-420.
My guide, The Voc Rehab Survival Guide, will give you insights on how best to convey your retraining plan or to file a Notice of Disagreement when you are stuck. Veterans who review all these resources have a much higher chance at success than other veterans who wing it, guaranteed.