The Department of Veterans Affairs just announced it will now use new tele-counseling software to help provide VA Vocational Rehab benefits to disabled veterans.

The new software system was borrowed from Veterans Health Administration (photo above) to allow counselors to provide services to veterans who are unable to attend in-person meetings for initial evaluations and for other purposes. It will replace antiquated software the program used in the past few years with limited success do to usability limitations.

The move is one of many upcoming technological advancements the agency is rolling out for its vocational program in the next year.

Past Tele-Counseling Efforts

For years, VA Vocational Rehab has been plagued with outdated software systems and overworked counselors unable to provide the counseling services necessary to help veterans. While the agency would likely dispute that last statement, the fact remains many counselors had caseloads that were too high to allow the time required to actually counsel veterans needing rehabilitation support.

RELATED: Key VocRehab Definitions You Need To Know

The new tech should allow counselors more time to spend with veterans assuming the agency does not bog counselors down with additional duties based on project time savings gained through the software. Tele-counseling in particular should help veterans with impairments or difficulty in crowds or difficulty traveling.

Today, I spoke with Will Streitberger, VRE Service Director, about this and other tech improvements in the pipeline. The software fixes sound good if they work as advertised. And, they should free up counselors to work with their clients more than in the past, again, assuming the software works.

The addition of the software fixes could be a good thing for counselors and veterans, alike, assuming it works as advertised. Given the present glitches with the Forever GI Bill implementation, we need to remain vigilant but hopeful.

RELATED: Former VRE Service Director Ruth Fanning Retires

Here is VA’s entire press release in italics:

VA announces fully capable Tele-counseling service within its Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E) announced the ability for Veterans nationwide to meet with more than 1,000 Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRC) via “Tele-counseling,” or virtual communication.

Tele-counseling, which is accessible on any device with a webcam and microphone, increases VA’s responsiveness to Veterans’ needs, reduces travel costs and time for both Veterans and VRCs, and improves Veterans’ access to necessary VR&E services.

“We strive to provide Veterans with access to personalized, interactive face-to-face care and services regardless of where they live,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VR&E’s Tele-counseling service is another example of how VA continually modernizes in support of Veterans’ needs.”

Tele-counseling allows Veterans to meet with VRCs virtually through VA Video Connect without having to download specialized software or obtain unique usernames and passwords. Access to a scheduled counseling session is obtained through a unique link sent directly to the Veteran and is valid for that counseling session only.

Veterans participating in most VR&E rehabilitation plans of service may use Tele-counseling and are encouraged to speak with their VRCs about it. Participation is voluntary and not required.

VR&E’s updated Tele-counseling application was developed through a partnership with Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) VA Telehealth Services. VR&E recently tested the ability to use Tele-counseling during initial evaluation appointments at six regional benefits offices. This test was conducted to identify how using Tele-counseling can reduce time Veterans wait for an appointment. Best practices were identified and incorporated into the rollout of the updated Tele-counseling application.

Since 2014, over 56,000 Veterans have either completed a rehabilitation plan, are employed, or have achieved a greater independence in living through VR&E assistance. The VR&E Program currently has more than 122,000 participants. For more information about VR&E, visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/.

RELATED: Quick Facts In Applying For VA Vocational Rehab

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14 COMMENTS

  1. By no stretch of the imagination is

    TECHNOLOGY: a necessary or needed tool or purpose to fix in any way, implement, or manipulate the Vocational Rehabilitation program which by the way, is the biggest criminal arm the VA has to offer.

    The counselors are well overpaid, under Smart, and deviant in their interactions with veterans. I know, I have experienced personally their attitudes, inconsistencies, and braindead interactions however flawed and outright deceitful.

    STOP giving bonuses to VA “employees”. STOP wasting taxpayer dollars on programs that do not and will not work. STOP undermining the will of the veteran. STOP “thinking” on behalf of the veteran.

    You know what, to the point, KILL the Veterans Administration as it is today. We can do A LOT BETTER without!!!!

    • Nothing but crooks!!! The VA says Voc Rehab tele-counseling??? WFJ!!! You’re lucky to get a call-back from a Voc Rehab councelor!!! Maybe in a month or two… They don’t respond to voicemail or email. Oh, you didn’t get paid your stipend? Sorry, it was a computer glitch. Oh, you’re dying and you need to see a doctor? Sorry, you’ll have to wait until you’re cremated or 6-feet under. 2-3 months to get an appointment with a PCP?

      The VA couldn’t give a sh!t! about Vets!!! Oh, we’ve fixed Community Care/Choice,,,, Yea, right… Dr. puts in a consult and never get a call…or, in 2 months! How many times have you seen where someone who works at the VA has a sign on their door that says ‘be back at…blank… time?’ Then, see them outside smoking????? Oh, you need to fill a prescription? Instead of a sign saying ‘prescriptions filled in 20 mins’ should say, ‘prescriptions filled in 2 hrs to 2 days…. The VA is a Fking joke!!!

  2. It has become more than apparent that the Vocational Rehab arm of the VA is broken. The congressional committee that oversees this boondoggle is just as inept.

    The solution is quite simple: elect politicians that care for and truly respect Veterans. Defund VRE and let it wither away and reinstitute Voc Rehab under the Department of Labor.

    By the way, I’m both available and able. And as a Vietnam Vet, I will GET IT DONE.

  3. Why do they have to have that contract truck? I have a computer in my home that is better for sound and visual. I guess they don’t want any chance of us recording a session.

  4. “We attempted to contact you through our tele-counseling, but you didn’t answer, please call us at XXX-XXXX.” Calls and gets general information number, “please leave a message” when you may or may not be connected to the right Dept….

  5. VA should just stick with technology they know how to implement and operate, like two tin cans and some string. Of course even that may overwhelm them. Who’s writing the code for this multiplatform disaster, Curly or Moe? Alpha software at best, probably never make it to beta

  6. Copy of letter to Denver Hospital Director:

    Sallie Houser-Hanfelder Saturday, 1Dec18
    1700 N. Wheeling St. FYI
    Aurora, CO 80045

    Your attention is invited to the incompetence of management of the V.A. in Denver, a well known fact of the medical staff (who won’t make waves that would endanger their employment). The latest incident is beyond acceptance without comment.
    When I enlisted in the Navy, the recruiter assured me it was a lifetime obligation of the United States of America to keep me healthy until no longer possible, no matter what. My original enlistment was in S. Charleston, WV–NRSD5-24, after giving up a scholarship as NROTC Midshipman at The Ohio State University to serve the Korean duty need.
    After service in the Far East aboard as staff for Fleet Air Wing ONE, I accepted a commission in the WV ANG (130th) and went to SAC B-47 combat crews (later HQ) and AFCS in the U.K., USAFR active duty until 30Nov69. That included a combat sortie in an infected “Agent Orange” (dioxin TCDD) T-39 out of TanSonNjut(Saigon).
    Active duty health support included three days in Sick Bay at Sangley Point, PI (diagnosis unknown), unknown pelvic distress at Mather AFB (’58), five days hospitalized at McConnell AFB with 3-y.o. son for pneumonia, and two weeks at USAF School of Aviation Medicine ostensibly for psychiatric evaluation in ’61. Denver V.A. intake evaluation in 2011 confirmed hearing loss, but denied compensation for vertigo (despite) service connected confirmed. At that time, I observed my inch-plus medical history folder to which I was denied access. These facts are mysteriously missing from VA records.
    After surgery in ’17 for complications of pancreas and gall bladder, I was told I had been “sick for a long, long time” (lucky to be alive). In July this year I was CHOICE referred to UCHealth urology for excision of bladder tumors, and follow-up was initiated.
    Now, a confirming endoscopy due at UCHealth on Monday,3Dec has been cancelled by V.A.(advised by UC urologist, 1630 Friday, 30Nov). Bean counters practicing medicine! Apparatchiks are determining who will live or die. It appears the V.A. administrators hope this elder will expire before compensation is provided for patient needs to maintain quality of life.
    Resolution of V.A. misdirection requires lawyers to challenge for patients. What? It’s the money!
    Politics, politics: “Government” (your neighbors) sustains by insuring its personnel are handsomely paid forever despite poor performance denying the commonweal.
    My case aside, there are thousands of Vets more needy, more in pain, more likely to die too soon (your brothers and sisters, parents, children) from V.A. neglect and misadministration. There are no excuses. It’s no wonder so many are committing suicide.
    It’s up to us all to defend ourselves. 2020 is coming. Fear rules. “Let the light shine in all the dark corners ….”
    Will I live that long?

    Martin5090

    CC: Internet Posts
    VA IG

    • My experience with the Denver VA Medical including the Cheyenne VA and sub VARO Office is similar. Except my file is thicker but my health is much better. I have only residuals of a TBI and a subsequent secondary back problem. But the TBI/PTSD therapy makes my folder several inches thick. My C&P file is more than 9 reems two sided. Yes, they are certainly waiting for us to die. At 77 I plan to keep fighting until I die and I hope that is at least to 94 (17 more years) like President Bush.

      I’ve been an activist on this front since 1987. Some successes not directly attributable to my activism:

      (1) focal TBI recognition in 2008
      (2) Blast TBI recognition in 2016
      (3) TBI complicating PTSD (don’t have a date)

      Not recognized the residuals of Cerebral Malaria.

      VA waiting for patients to die and not maintaining records properly. Appears some adjudicators were clearing their desks to the shredder until data records were mandated and the program lets removal of information from a data file but the reason it is removed and the data removed is still maintained in a separate file to prevent the clearing of an adjudicator’s desk by deleting the evidence and then denying rather than assessing.

      Denver is the worst place that I have experienced for adjudication. I’ve been at LA and DC also.

    • The VA’s computer systems my very well be compromised by communists, sure seems that way. I’ve read articles before about communist chicanery at the VA. I’ve always suspected their involvement. I just could never fathom or accept Americans treating American veterans the way that the VA does (management). Thanks for your insight Dr. Martin.

  7. The VR&E program is broken, possibly beyond repair. They contract to pay all expenses but then find ways to avoid doing so. The bean counters have been given control of the program and demand that everyone and everything fit neatly into their checkboxes. Not all college or training programs are capable of doing so. I was out of pocket over $10,000 before giving up. I’m much happier and less stressed as a result. The program needs to serve veterans, not the other way around.

Comments are closed.