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My Voc Rehab Story – Part 1

Overview: Here is the take away for the disabled veterans thinking of using Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation who are reading this. I was in Voc Rehab training from 2003-2007 the first time around; completed a bachelors degree at a private university; and received financial aid.

My Vocational Rehabilitation training broke down while looking for work after graduation. I took a job outside of my Voc Rehab training direction due, in part, to not receiving guidance from my Voc Rehab Counselor.

My situation when entering Voc Rehab

  • Disability rating: 20%
  • Education level: high school diploma
  • Time in service: 5 years
  • Requested goal: Lawyer
  • Goal agreed on: Manager
  • Cost difference for Voc Rehab
  • Lawyer – 7 years: tuition + stipend = $300,000
  • Manager – 4 years: tuition + stipend = $170,000

Voc Rehab Rule #1

Always request a copy of your file after an adverse decision from a Voc Rehab Counselor or Counseling Psychologist.

My first round of VA Voc Rehab was between 2003 to 2007. I first requested a Voc Rehab IWRP goal of Lawyer but the counselor told me Voc Rehab does not pay for law school. Instead, we settled on a goal of Management. I requested to attend a private college, but the counseling psychologist told me they would not approve a private education if the local universities offered the same program. Luckily, the college had a program not offered at the public university. I told the psychologist I wanted to study Business Communication and was approved.

While at the college, I decided I’d rather study Economics. This was offered at the public university, but since I was already enrolled in classes, the new Voc Rehab Counselor did not make me switch universities. What a deal! I continued to on to complete my degree at Northwestern University and the training portion of Voc Rehab.

After completing my degree, the only job I could find was within Commercial Insurance. I had asked my new Voc Rehab Counselor about graduate schooling. She told me, “no way.”

I worked within the Insurance Industry for 10 months and lost the job. I re-approached Voc Rehab for help and requested a copy of my file. Within the file, I found an email chain between my initial Voc Rehab Counselor and the counselor who took over my case. The email proved that Voc Rehab could have approved the goal of Lawyer, despite what my counselor told me.

After further investigating my Voc Rehab file, I realized I was deemed to be “rehabilitated” inappropriately. I appealed the decision and was cleared to use Chapter 31 Voc Rehab a second time. However, I was not initially approved to attend Law School. The initial position was this, “We will not pay for you to attend law school. We will pay for you to get an MBA, but other disabled veterans were unable to successfully complete Law School and pass the Bar.”

Read how I gained Voc Rehab approval for Law School by clicking here.

5 thoughts on “My Voc Rehab Story – Part 1”

  1. Well, I got an appointment on Friday with my VRC and we’ll see how it goes. This appointment will be my first one with him, however, I sent him an e-mail and followed up with a phone call and his initial answer is “unless I have a pretty good reason, a PhD is not necessary.” I planned my case differently, I looked at the programs that appeal to me and chose an MS that is only offered by 20 Universities nationwide; only Columbia offers it in New York. I applied to the Master program, got accepted, enrolled, and started classes THEN I applied for VR&E. My proposed rehabilitation plan includes a 40 credit Master degree, a 12 credit certificate that will give me a concentration in International conflict, a 28 credit for a Psychology certificate program since I did not have any psychology courses in my undergrad, and finally 60 credits to finish all remaining coursework required for the Doctoral program before I focus on my research for the dissertation. So the 140 credits at Columbia University will only costs about $250,000 between tuition and fees. I already know why the VRC would resist the PhD as a rehabilitation goal; his rational will be that preparing and defending the dissertation may last several years and the length of the rehabilitation plan must be predetermined. For that I have two simple answers; I need to pursue a career in Academia because my disabilities prevent me from working in a regular office setting, and the VR&E program need only to support me until I finish all the required courses because I will be getting paid teaching and getting a fellowship for research until I defend my dissertation, thus completing those courses in itself provided me with a suitable employment. Additionally, this semester I’m using my post 9/11 GI Bill; I have 32 month and 20 days left in the GI Bill entitlement, so all the VR&E will allow me to do is exhaust my GI Bill in an expedited fashion without the 17,500 annual cap. From a budget and entitlements prospective, according to my proposed plan, the VRE will only be paying tuition and fees $40,000 and paying me stipends during 3 terms (Approximately 12 months).

  2. Steve
    Thank you for sharing your story. I am now in a similar situation with my Voc Rehab program:
    Disability rating–70 %, Grad Date–31 May 2010 (with honors, 3.9 GPA) AA degree in Business General, job placement goal–Entry Level Insurance Underwriter,.
    All my employment coordinator (Emp Coord)/counselor did was to keep shooting me emails. As I was attending college, I got a temporary job as an office supervisor for the 2010 Census. The mission ended, and I was terminated due to lack of on 16 July 2010. I pursued my Voc Rehab profession and was unsuccessful at landing a job. I followed the various leads from the VA Emp Coord and the VA’s EDD counselor. Again, all the EDD counselor did was to keep sending me a lot of email dates of job fairs and employer interview panels at his local office. I went to a couple of them on my limited gasoline budget and found them to be unfruitful.
    After striking out in the job market, I decided to talk to the Troops to Teacher program director at one of the Marine Corps Base’s (Camp Pendleton) job fairs. She told me how I could use my GI Bill to get my California Teacher Credential and search that job market. Subsequently, I enrolled in the Cal-State San Marcos teacher credentialing program. Currently, I am waiting to be interviewed and selected for their Fall 2011 Class.
    In February 2011, I ask my former counselor about the OJT program, a new idea to get disable veterans hired more quickly, and I was given to a new VA Emp. Coord. who told me I was no longer qualified to receive the Voc. Rehab benefit because I registered at the college using my POST 911 GI Bill.
    I was totally upset, because no one advised me that I would lose my Voc Rehab job coordination benefit if I utilized my Post 911 benefit. What do you suggest? I would like to use the Voc Rehab to get my teaching credential and Master in Education degree in California….so that I can increase my chances of getting hired in this state. Background information—I have as BS degree from a college in OHIO, and earned a teaching credential in 1981 for Industrial Arts Education.
    I am currently enrolled at CSUSM as an applicant in the College of Education’s teacher credential program; and I about to register for my summer classes to prepare me to take the required test (CSET) that I need in order to be accepted into the program.
    On 26 March 2011, I received my disappointing letter from the VA Emp Coord, stating that I was “rehabilitated” and that I am no longer entitled to receive services and ASSISTANCE under my Voc Rehab plan. This includes any medical or dental services I may have been receiving as part of the Voc Rehab and Employment Program.
    Whatever ideas you have I will be interested in hearing them.
    Alfonzo, cell: (858) 254-0179

  3. Steve
    I had a case in San Antonio under the Independent Liling Program which falls under Voc. Rehab. The counsellor that I had deemed me as completed the ILP program. I now have had it revisited because my situations and degree of disability has increased probably 3 or 4 fold. The counsellors in Houston give alip service but no positive action in the ILP. They are not even following their own regulations/directives. I have all of the stats on the ILP but not Voc Rehab. If they will help you I would be gload to email them to you.
    I would like to talk with you at some point soon. I have already beeb to DC once, a friend twice about the same problems. I feel that another trip will probably come up soon.
    ph hm 281-259-0701 cell 210-216-3983
    Cordially,
    Chet Crump

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