Veteran Readiness and Employment Pay 2021

FY 2020 Voc Rehab Stipend Rates Increased From Previous Year

Many veterans using the GI Bill may be unaware they are qualified for thousands more in benefits through Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment.

The GI Bill is a fantastic benefit where many veterans receive a subsistence payment plus coverage for tuition at a state university for up to 36 months.

Yes, that is fantastic. But is it the whole story?

It is for veterans without qualifying disability ratings.

Veterans with disability ratings of 10 percent or higher should consider using VA Voc Rehab based on a little secret about that program that many Veteran Service Organizations fail to understand.

They keep telling disabled veterans behind closed doors that the Forever GI Bill is the only way to go while leaving out one key detail.

<< Disabled veterans with an Employment Handicap or Serious Employment Handicap may be approved for training in professional careers where the training lasts longer than 36 months in total. >>

What does that mean and why does it matter?

For disabled veterans entitled to Voc Rehab benefits, these veterans may receive well over 36 months of benefits including subsistence payments.

Veterans with remaining entitlement to the GI Bill may then opt in for the higher subsistence payments at E-5 rates equal to those of the GI Bill while also getting all tuition and expenses paid for well over 36 months.

You know how much that can add up to for some veterans in their undergrad who want to become doctors or lawyers after they graduate? A lot of money.

These points aside, the payment rates for Voc Rehab have gone up whether or not you are entitled to BAH subsistence at the GI Bill amounts or if you receive the significantly lower standard Voc Rehab subsistence payments.

Each year, VA cranks up its monthly pay (aka subsistence payment, stipend, etc.) for veterans using Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment. Here’s the fiscal year 2019 numbers and how it could impact your pocketbook each month if you qualify.

RELATED: Free Voc Rehab Intro Videos

Higher E-5 BAH Of GI Bill vs Standard Voc Rehab Monthly Pay

The cost of living adjustment (COLA) increase for the standard monthly pay for Voc Rehab is only $644.74 for veterans with no dependents who are in full-time training. Veterans eligible for the higher Post 9/11 subsistence allowance (P911SA) rate is around $1,500 without dependents.

Why the difference?

Veterans who are not entitled to the GI Bill but who use Voc Rehab only receive the lower rate for monthly subsistence. Those veterans using Voc Rehab with GI Bill entitlement can opt-in for the higher subsistence payment for the duration of their Voc Rehab training.

Is this a good deal?

Big Money In Voc Rehab Benefits

It is not only a good deal, but veterans who opt to use Voc Rehab with GI Bill entitlement remaining can receive more than 48 months of support in certain situations and receive the higher subsistence payment the entire time.

The option is quite valuable for those veterans in high-cost areas like Los Angeles or New York City. Veterans qualified for an advanced degree after completion of an undergrad while in Voc Rehab could receive extended subsistence payments.

A good example is any single veteran approved for a medical doctorate in New York City would likely receive over $3,000 per month while in training. For a three year medical doctorate, the veteran would receive around $100,000 in just monthly payments not to mention tuition, books, and fees.

Here is the agency’s breakdown of the subsistence increase.

VA Policy Document On Subsistence FY 2020

On October 1, 2020, a 2.8 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to traditional Chapter 31 subsistence allowance rates will go into effect. The remainder of this post highlights the following:

  1. The new Chapter 31 rates and the first increased payment date
  2. Processing subsistence allowance in Corporate WINRS Subsistence Allowance Module (SAM)
  3. How running Chapter 31 awards will be adjusted
  4. How Veterans will be notified about the Chapter 31 COLA increase
  5. Election of alternate subsistence allowance under Public Law (PL) 111-377
  6. Who to contact with Chapter 31 subsistence allowance questions

RELATED: Access Paginated M28R Updated 4/6/2019

1. The New Chapter 31 Rates And The First Increased Payment Date

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Service received confirmation from Hines Information Technology Center (ITC) that the FY 2020 COLA rates were installed for the traditional Chapter 31 subsistence allowance rates.  This COLA affects traditional Chapter 31 subsistence allowance rates where the award period ends on or after October 1, 2019.  Post-9/11 subsistence allowance (P911SA) based on Department of Defense (DoD) Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) rates is unaffected by this COLA.

The enclosed table reflects the new traditional Chapter 31 subsistence allowance rates that are effective October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020.  Since the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays subsistence allowance for training that has been completed in the previous month, the first payment at these rates will be reflected in the November 1, 2019 subsistence allowance payment/disbursement.

RELATED: Ben’s First Voc Rehab Appointment

Type of Training

Training Time

No Dependents

One Dependent

Two Dependents

Each Additional Dependent

Institutional; Nonpay or nominal pay work experience in a facility of a Federal, State, local, or federally recognized Indian tribe agency; Improvement of Rehabilitation Potential:






¾ Time





½ Time





¼ Time1





Nonpay or nominal pay on-job training in a facility of a Federal, State, local, or federally recognized Indian tribe agency; Training in the home; Vocational course in a rehabilitation facility or sheltered workshop; Independent instructor:

Full-Time Only





Farm Cooperative, Apprenticeship or other On-Job Training2:

Full-Time Only





Combination of Institutional and On-Job Training (Institutional Greater than One Half);

Non-farm Cooperative Institutional Training and Non-farm Cooperative On-Job Training (FT Non-Farm Coop/Institutional):

Full-Time Only





Combination of Institutional and On-Job Training (On-the-Job Greater than ½); Non-farm Cooperative Institutional Training and Non-farm Cooperative On-Job Training (FT Non-Farm Coop/On-the-Job):

Full-Time Only





Effective 10-01-2019, the maximum monthly rate for Chapter 31 Subsistence Allowance is $2,7283.

[1] The quarter-time rate may be paid only during extended evaluation.  

2 For On-Job Training, training wage plus subsistence allowance cannot exceed the journeyman wage.

3 This maximum rate was calculated based upon full-time enrollment for a Veteran with the following dependents: spouse, mother, father and 25 children.

2. Processing subsistence allowance in Corporate WINRS (SAM)

Traditional Chapter 31 subsistence allowance rate awards already entered into SAM have been automatically adjusted with the COLA rate effective October 1, 2019.  New award entries will display the COLA adjustment effective October 1, 2019. 

Post 9/11 subsistence allowance rate awards require no additional action in SAM at this time.  The revised rate for P911SA rates will be available later this year.  

3. How running Chapter 31 awards will be adjusted

In early October 2019, a batch computer program will identify and automatically retroactively adjust awards that include an effective date of October 1, 2019, or earlier.

The automatic adjustment to Chapter 31 awards will:

  • Generate online notice of exception messages for cases that could not be adjusted by the batch process and that require regional office action to manually adjust the subsistence rate.
  • Generate a report of all SAM adjusted and non-adjusted cases in early October 2019.
  • Generate award letters to Veterans notifying them of the change in their subsistence rate(s) effective on or after October 1, 2019.

4. How Veterans Will Be Notified About The Chapter 31 COLA Increase

All Veterans receiving the traditional Chapter 31 subsistence rate at the end of September 2019 will receive notification of the new rates by VA Form 28-0347, which includes a copy of the traditional Chapter 31 subsistence allowance rate table enclosed with this letter.

5. Election of Alternate Subsistence Allowance under Public Law 111-377: Post 9/11 Subsistence Allowance (P911SA) Rate

As an informational addendum to this form letter, the following subsistence allowance option has been included. The law implementing this allowance option became effective in late fiscal year 2011, and is included here for use in comparing options for subsistence which may be open to the Veteran participant.

Public Law 111-377, Section 205 amended Title 38 of the United States Code, Section 3108(b), effective August 1, 2011. This change in the law authorizes VA to allow a Veteran, entitled to both a Chapter 31 subsistence allowance and Post 9/11 GI Bill Chapter 33 educational assistance, to elect to receive a payment in an alternate amount instead of the regular Chapter 31 subsistence allowance. To receive the alternate payment, referred to as the P911SA rate, a Veteran must make an election of benefits with an effective date on VA Form (VAF) 28-0987, Election for CH 31 Subsistence Allowance (CH31SA) Rate or Post-9/11 Subsistence Allowance (P911SA) Rate. The alternate payment will be based on the military basic allowance for housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents residing in a military housing area that encompasses all of, or the majority portion of, the ZIP Code of the training facility, agency, or employer providing the rehabilitation program. Training in foreign institutions and training that is solely on-line or in-home will be based on the BAH national average.

Calculate BAH Rate

The Department of Defense (DoD) sets BAH rates each calendar year, therefore, new BAH rates are effective January 1st each year, not October 1st. BAH for full-time attendance (or rate of pursuit) may be calculated at the DoD website:

  • Enter year (“2019”), ZIP Code of the training facility (school, employer for OJT programs, or agency approved for work experience programs), and “E-5
  • Click “calculate”
  • Use rate for “E-5 with dependents”.
  • Per Public Law 115-48, participants who used entitlement to Chapter 31 benefits and services on or before December 31, 2017, will add an additional amount to this rate. The additional amount will be published in January 2019.

For training at a facility within a United States (U.S.) Territory (not solely online), identify the appropriate locality code (similar to a U.S. ZIP Code) where the Veteran is enrolled in training.

Verify that the site is located in one of the U.S. Territories under which the Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) under the Post-9/11 Chapter 33 is payable: American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam.

Go to the Department of Defense website:

on or after the 16th day of the month, use the 16th day of the month in which the term begins.

  • Choose the correct location from the drop-down box.
  • Choose pay grade “E-5”.
  • Choose “Yes” in the dependents box.
  • Click “Calculate” to obtain the rate.
  • The correct rate of pay for P911SA is titled “OHA Rental Allowance”.

The following table specifies payment of the alternate subsistence allowance that VA is calling the Post-9/11 subsistence allowance, as governed by Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) § 21.260(c).


Full-time Entire BAH of institution ZIP Code
3/4 time ¾ BAH of institution ZIP Code
1/2 time ½ BAH of institution ZIP Code
Non-pay or nominal pay on-job training in a Federal, State, local, or federally recognized Indian tribe agency; vocational course in a rehabilitation facility or sheltered workshop; institutional non-farm cooperative:  
Full-time only Entire BAH of agency or institution ZIP Code
Non-pay or nominal pay work experience in a Federal, State, local, or federally recognized Indian tribe agency:  
Full-time Entire BAH of agency ZIP Code
3/4 time ¾ BAH of agency ZIP Code
1/2 time ½ BAH of agency ZIP Code
Farm cooperative, apprenticeship, or other on-job training (OJT):[3]  
Full-time only Entire BAH of employer ZIP Code
Combination of institutional and OJT (Full-time only):  
Institutional greater than 1/2 time Entire BAH of institution ZIP Code
OJT greater than ½ time3 Entire BAH of employer ZIP Code
Non-farm cooperative (Full-time only):  
Institutional Entire BAH of institution ZIP Code
On-job3 Entire BAH of employer ZIP Code
Improvement of rehabilitation potential:  
Full-time Entire BAH of institution ZIP Code
3/4 time ¾ BAH of institution ZIP Code
1/2 time ½ BAH of institution ZIP Code
1/4 time4 ¼ BAH of institution ZIP Code
Training consisting of solely distance learning:5  
Full-time ½ BAH National Average
¾ time BAH National Average
½ time ¼ BAH National Average
Training in the home, including independent instructor:  
Full-time only ½ BAH National Average
Training in an institution not assigned a ZIP Code, including foreign institutions:6  
Full-time Entire BAH National Average
¾ time ¾ BAH National Average
½ time ½ BAH National Average

1 Effective August 1, 2011, the Post-9/11 subsistence allowance may be paid in lieu of subsistence allowance authorized in § 21.260(b), and is not adjusted to include dependents.

2 For measurement of rate of pursuit, see §§ 21.4270 through 21.4275. Payments for courses being taken simultaneously at more than one institution are based on the BAH of the ZIP Code assigned to the parent institution.

3 For on-job training, payment of the Post-9/11 subsistence allowance may not exceed the difference between the monthly training wage, not including overtime, and the entrance journeyman wage for the veteran’s objective.

4 The quarter-time rate may be paid only during extended evaluation.

5 Payment for training consisting of both distance learning and courses taken at a local institution is based on the BAH of the ZIP Code assigned to the local institution.

6 Payment for training or OJT in an institution outside the US, but identified as a U.S. Territory, is based on the OHA rate for the locality code assigned to the institution.

6. Who To Contact For Chapter 31 Subsistence Allowance Questions

Please refer to M28R, Part V, Section B, Chapter 8, located on the Knowledge Management Portal (KMP), for additional procedural guidance on the authorization and processing of subsistence allowance payments.

Questions regarding subsistence allowance award processing may be directed to your district VR&E Field Liaison at the e-mail address listed below.






Latrese Arnold

Veronica Brown



Veronica Brown 

Latrese Arnold



LeGuster Seawright

Lynn Horwatt



Lynn Horwatt

LeGuster Seawright



So, if you run into issues apparently you can contact any of the above-listed individuals based on the area where your regional office is located. Agency emails are simple enough to figure out, usually.

For example, the email for Lynn Horwatt is likely [email protected]. Send her a note if you have issues and use a Regional Office assigned to the Pacific.

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  1. With the companies and government, there is too much cherry picking from those who believe they are the experts.

    When I speak negative about experts, I am not slamming their degrees and license. When I make comments like this, I am not necessarily knocking their qualifications.

    This is not what I am speaking too.

    I mean they do not listen. They fail to see the facts. They disagree with American citizens when they hear the facts; and, choose not to accept what is being spoken by certain classes people based on their status. Even though, the statements are the facts from the happenings or the situations involving many people. Not just one person.

    So Ben I know your blogs are not politics. I will say though the politics of the companies and govt agencies affect many lives. So I will say now I am neither a Republican or a Democrat. Not that it matters and I am not applying to Chapter 31. Thanks for your work.

    I will make do as I am and bridge into employment with what I have.

  2. tk, they are missing the boat on many of the changes that are happening. Placing to much emphasis on a degree. Too much on status. Depends on what the degree is in. Being able to do the job is more important than the degree. A degree does not guarantee the person can deliver.
    tk, I agree with you. Many Americans have become successful from working their way up from the bottom.

  3. Pretty soon we will all need a BA to flip hamburgers, because its becoming the new high school diploma!
    In the old days a person could get a job in any company with a 6th grade education and work there way up the company. The mailman was one of the best paying jobs for many years and went off of inflation. Most people would need to make $25.00hr just to get by. Now they are gutting the post office and hiring people part time while working them 50 hours a week to save the post office off the back of our citizens! Great job post office!NO benefits no retirement till a route opens up and could take 5 years so all the winters you worked mean nothing!

  4. Let me bring something up that of which I had sent you an article on. Companies were not favoring vets to hire because the companies see vets as agentic (which is a psychological state that an obedient subject is in when obeying orders) and unemotional. The false narrative is that the military doesn’t groom soldiers who can think for themselves. This narrative is not linked to the civilian sector at all. Ben, I have only experienced the stronghold pull of thinking for me from the VA and yes the Navy too. This is what the military and the VA presents to the American public. This narrative does not stem from the American companies initially. Here is what happens. When vets leave the military and particularily if they are vulunerable from being injured, this is where it starts. If the vet is really messed up when leaving active duty even after years, it is hard as hell for the vet to present that he or she can speak for themselves. This has been my case and I had witnessed it with other vets. Lack of interpersonal skills is somewhat linked to tech 24/7. While on active duty, the diversity of all military members to have included me involves them and involved me utilizing teamwork to get tasks done. These actions would require and requires interpersonal skills. Ben, they are not getting this correct. I am referring to people who are writing these articles. There are different levels of interpersonal skills. In other words, the interpersonal skills of a nurse or psychologist would not be the same as someone working in IT or various types of business or science careers. Varying skill levels of people’s interpersonal skills involves lesser or greater degrees of introspection. Plus, the depth of the interpersonal skill level used determines the success of the message being delivered to the external whomever. Companies are looking at the situation with blanket coverage. People writing these one sided articles are too. Oh my gosh, I am not sure where they are getting this. This is still about vets. America steadily changing from the exchange of commodities to one of authentic experiences. No and no and no. The change is the other way around. Depends on which companies and people. The interpersonal consumer drive has regressed. Ben where have these people been? I am eat up with interpersonal skills. What they are failing to take note of is the amount of crap that is slammed at veterans who are goal oriented and who exhibit integrity. This country has about let status and political correctness take it over which can affect hiring veterans. My comments centered around employment not necessarily Voc Rehab.

    1. Question? How can interpersonal skills be used if one is always having to buy and purchase online? This is my point. For example, why do people get charged a dollar to pay their cell phone bills face to face in person? They call it a convenience fee. So all the articles written by whomever saying that the reason for not hiring veterans is due to lack of interpersonal skills, well companies are acting hypocritical. Companies are charging customers in order to deliver interpersonal skill service to them so they can make payment bills face to face. Company liars.

      1. Ben, information is good that you have put out. However, the amount of money the VA is having to put out for education and training is really sad to me. The situation should not be this way. Universities, private sector companies, and even many government officials have become greed mongers. Should not be this way. As for companies claiming vets lack interpersonal skills is truly coming from an uninformed position.
        I just cannot see how they are claiming the reason for hiring someone would be solely based on interpersonal skills. How can the companies stand for interpersonal skills when their business practices thwart and destroy the usage of interpersonal skills during business transactions? The companies are obsessed over autopay, selling /buying online, and even telehealth /telemental health. The technology will never be able to compete and deliver the same measured skill quality of interpersonal skills which do occur in many face to face communicable exchanges. It is sad when I and other Americans have to pay the company to receive my money owed to them in form of cash payment involving face to face communicable exchanges. This interaction does indeed require the usage of interpersonal skills. So pay a dollar, in addition, to the amount owed in order for company to take their own money. These actions by companies are deterring the usage of face to face interpersonal skills. Because who wants to pay a dollar to a company so they will take the cash money owed to them. So why is it really called a convience fee? Most certainly is not convenient for Americans to drive in a car or walk to or take public transportation to pay the company owed in a face to face personable manner. Evidently, companies must have a shortage of people among their corporate employee structure who can speak with using the correct grammar and sentence structure. So now they send the blame to the veteran population claiming they lack interpersonal skills.
        I do not think so.
        Companies should evaluate what has been going on within the American educational system and you will find your own answers. In my opinion, serving in the military adds too; it does not take away even if one gets injured or killed in action. Best.

  5. I have a question that has yet been answered. When I signed my initial contract, I was given a kicker incentive. When I first started inquiring about it, no one would even admit to ever hearing about it before. After I was accepted into the voc rehab program, I was able to locate my paperwork from MEPS. I was told by my regional office that, no matter what additional incentives I had in my contract, I was receiving the max amount allowed. From everything I’ve read, the kicker incentive was something in addition to. Do you know if that is the case?

    Thank you

  6. Veterans know 10 Disabled Veterans who is 100 percent percent service connected needs a Dentist know how to put in G4 implants should get the G4 implants for email your Senators or Representative contract Veteran Affairs Committee passed a new Benefit Law for Disabled Veterans who is need G4 implants get the G4 implants for free because they don’t have Dentist know how to G4 implants at no Veterans Medical Centers or have a contract with Veteran Administration and if a Disabled Veterans who is 100 percent service connected doesn’t get the G4 implants it would cause really bad Health Problems plus it would cause really bad gums disease also it may cause Cancer…Don’t. Surrender… Semper Fi.

  7. My immediate reaction Ben is the everyday American working citizens are paying for these rates. I do not agree with it at all. The federal government has gone bizzerk with the massive spending and the 22 Trillion dollar deficit. The situation goes back to the foundation. The cost of living should not be as high as it is and the university tuition should not be as high as it is. Ben, and you say Angela what are you going to bitch about next? Well, Ben, this is something to bitch about. Ben, this is as horrible as the Green New Deal and the Medicare For All.
    Referring to the amount of money it takes to educate and train somebody for career professional employment. The way they keep going we will eventually be living in dumpsters and eating peelings off the grounds because the country is going to lose it’s full ass. Not it’s half ass but it’s full ass. All bets are heading off with this massive spending and due to the high costs of everything. Best.

    1. President of this University in which I am enrolled with sent me an email saying they are raising tuition costs. I emailed back to ask why he is sending the email to me? I told him I only enrolled with them because they are online and because of the Mathematics. In all honesty, I can teach myself. The online just afforded me flexibility in relation to the location accessibility. In other words, the Mathematics could move with me because of what I had to deal with. Ben, I do not care what they do. If they go to high, they will collapse. Ultimately, the VA should not be having to pay this high cost tuition per veteran. If the costs were lower, more veterans could be helped with all. Ben, they do not look at it like this. They just believe the money is to positive infinity and take everything for granted. All heading to collapse.
      The money will run out. I do not care what they do.

  8. Benjamin,
    you just have to entice don’t you? I do not have the Montgomery GI Bill because they denied the transfer from the VEAP to the Montgomery Bill in relation to me when they opened it up to VEAP active duty contributors. They opened it up to active duty right after I had asked at the time of when they were discharging and were retiring me. They opened it up later in the Fall of 1996 after they had retired me to the TDRL in which my Navy TDRL retirement occurred earlier that same year. Though, they see the VEAP as having been fully used. I say this as per what they have mentioned to me in the past. Ben, this was never the case. This is not at all what happened. I am not sure why I am even communicating this because they could really careless about the facts as how they layed back then and even the facts as how they lay today. I will explain a little later what did happen but busy at the moment. Yes, Voc Rehab is adding major money to the process for display. For them to follow thru, I would say the chances of them sticking with the veteran through thick or thin is about a 0.01% chance maybe even much less than this numeric value. I am not waiting on them. They can follow and I am sure they will even if I isolate my path from them. They always find a way to try to slide in there indirectly in attempts to derail. My question still remains. Being they love to abuse power and overreach so much, why can’t they flip their abusive derailment positons to teaming with the veterans to synchronize the positive energy that is necessary to garner the counselor-veteran retraining equal partnership that of which is always desperately necessary to reach the successful retraining career goals. Ben, honestly, they have rarely been in my corner when the topic of school to return to the workforce has been in play. I mean professional substantive employment. I do not mean making someone’s coffee. They way I see it if they are holding employment they can do it themselves. Will return. Yes, Voc Rehab financial resources are good if VA will deliver the accessibles.

    1. Ben, I am preparing a list of questions regarding the Chapter 31 Vocational Rehab information to present to you on this blog. Soon.

      1. Are you familiar with the Philadephia College of Osteopathetic Medicine? PCOM.
        Ben, I was reviewing the payment amounts of what the VA does pay for a Medical Doctorate. That is a lot of damn money. I just cannot hardly see adding that amount of money to the taxpayers while we have a 22 Trillion dollar deficit. Ben, I just cannot in my right mind even say it is okay to pay out this amount of money for medical school regardless of who the person is. I just cannot see this as being fiscally responsible.
        I cannot. I hate even looking at the amount with my eyes. The costs should not be this high. Anyway, some medical schools have part-time work study while attending the classes. Of course, they have simulations and the required residency. The PCOM has part-time work study while attending classes. So this will be full-time. I will say this if a person is passionate about what they are doing, what the subject matter is, and what they believe in, the full-time schedule is more than doable. I wonder if the Department of Veterans Affairs ever views any situation from this perspective honestly. I often hear NIH or various agencies speak of cognitive decline in relation to aging. Yes, there could be some truth to this research; but, not a one size fits all to their claims. Tell me how a person walking through a grocery line while waiting for the cashier in his or her efforts of looking for a calculator to add up the additional amount to the automation amount finally just says to the cashier, “Hey, nevermind, I already calculated the total amount in my head.” Customer in a hurry and could not wait for the cashier to find a pen to write it on paper to add it up and could not wait for the calculator either. So the customer improvised. So Ben would the cognitive decline fit the customer?

      2. I could not let this go. There really seems to be a contradicting picture and a problem here. The institutions that are in kahootz with the VA seem as though they are rigged against me. No Ben I am not paranoid. There is too much evidence out here where the VA cannot get their hands that shows an entirely different picture. These institutions get paid big bucks from the VA. This has been happening and even goes back to the care and voc rehab denials. Can you please explain why the VA is about thwarting even when I am not directly under them? Like I have mentioned before, Ben, there is a problem here or something in my record that is contributing to their continuous actions. I still do not see them involved in sincere efforts. Some maybe. I still see the crap. No voc rehab for me. Even the evidence has involved other people to where I know it is not just me. Foolish for writing this. I do not think so not one iota. Any feedback anyone?

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