Voc Rehab Workarounds for Veterans with Degrees

VR&E Workarounds

Have degree will travel. That’s the attitude of many veterans trying to get into the VA Voc Rehab Program, who are also hoping to get a leg up in the workforce.

These folks usually have a degree of some kind and a fair amount of experience. Their disabilities tend to impact their employment a little but not enough to where the impairment would be obvious.

These veterans are usually hoping for al little boost to their resume by getting a quick certificate program or something easy to help push them to the next level for employment.

One would think that this kind of attitude shows the counselor you are willing to be flexible but that you also may want a little help. This is clearly different from the veteran who comes into the counselor’s office declaring VA owes them the moon and a few stars.

However, the real question here is this: which veteran will be more successful in getting approved?

I used to think it was the former but my position is changing. VA Voc Rehab Counselors are looking for veterans who are truly “needy” for services, in my opinion. These veterans will have a lower aptitude or skillset but would likely be able to complete a degree of some kind to then reenter the workforce.

This fits the normative framework and expectations for VA Voc Rehab Counselors. After all, almost 80 percent of all veterans in VA Voc Rehab are in some form of long-term training in a degree-seeking program.

The former kind of veteran may have a problem if they are hoping to pop off a certification on top of an existing degree, especially if that degree is advanced like a Masters Degree – regardless of the kind. Usually, the VA Voc Rehab Counselor will merely point at the fact that the person has a degree and then show them the door.

Here is my input for the latter, more educated disabled veterans, based on what I’ve seen happen in my own claim and in the claims of others I have talked with through the years.

First of all, it really comes down to the counselor and your relationship with that person. Always be sharp – meaning be prepared – but kind, even if they are rude.

Second, it is vital to always keep your eye on terms and ideas like “employability” and “employment.” There is nothing in the reg about getting further education or certifications for “bettering” one’s self. VA will almost always flag these individuals and respond with a statement like, “We are a back to work program, not a back to school program.”

In my opinion, disabled veterans with higher levels of education are at a disadvantage. It will be up to each veteran to prove that they NEED retraining and help. Each person needs to think about how best they can document that they need help. Documentation is proof that at least something happened. VR&E staff will rarely if ever take a veteran’s word for it without back up.

Generally, the disability that is causing the employment problem must also be the disability the veteran is rated for. It is possible to get VA to consider a disability where the rating is pending, but that really depends on the counselor and whether or not they are in a good mood.

Read through my guide, Voc Rehab Survival Guide, put your plan together, and really be sure to focus on employment options. All your training must line up with the employment plan you are seeking.

Here is one last caveat for veterans with degrees already. If the veteran’s educational background does not line up currently with her career path, focusing on how the difference impairs your search for a better job fit could help.

Let me know how it goes!!

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  1. Bruce, If youre still reading this, go to the FBI office. Also get a probono attorney and file a suit against the university. If your facts are true, please also sue the VA for aiding the school. You can do it dude.

  2. I have heard horror stories with regard to the almost adversarial relationship that exists between Voc Rehab Counselors and our disabled vets. I am a disabled Army veteran (40% Service Connected) My first experience with a voc rehab counselor in Loma Linda California was worse than horrific. My counselor dismissed me (out the door) within 5 minutes and I was outright denied any help. I asked for a reason she came to this decision within 5 minutes. She refused to speak with me and she called the VA Police who escorted me out of her office waiting room and off the property. As bad as that was, I must say that these Police Officers (All VA cops are extremely compassionate and lack the mentality of , Oh please someone anyone give me a reason to brutalize them)

    I reapplied twice and both times denied by the same counselor. I appealed to the powers that be but to no avail.

    I should make you all aware that during this time I was homeless (sleeping out of my truck) Nevertheless, I spent a good chunk of my monthly disability check for appropriate clothing for my Voc Rehab appts. Yet once I made my counselor aware I was homeless, that was it. I suppose they looked at me as a lost cause and cast me aside like trash.

    This was in 2007/2008. In late 2008, I moved up to Oregon for a new start (stayed with my folks) I once again reapplied for Voc Rehab. I was terrified I would be dismissed without consideration. My Case Worker had me go through a battery of aptitude tests after an hour long interview. I scored very high. Amazingly my Case worker sat me down and we began to work on a Rehabilitation Plan. I asked her when will I know if I am eligible. She told me I was more than eligible.

    I (being a grown man) started to softly cry. 3 years later, I am now in my senior years towards a Bachelor’s of Science In Emergency Management. I am now married and I believe I have a bright future.

    I cannot state enough how wonderful and supportive my counselor has been over these last three years. Her name is Jennifer Swatez and she works out of the White City Oregon VA.

    So to those vets who have been or are homeless, and have been denied services, keep applying. With a little luck you will find an angel, like I did……

  3. I was a teacher in California with a Masters. My former employer found out about my PTSD and Bipolar disorder and fired me when there were no “appropriate” accommodations that would allow me to work with children. I moved to Florida and met with the voc counselors who turned me down for my PhD that would allow me to stay in the field by teaching adults. They said I could do other things in my denial letter, like child’s party planner…….. I’m just flabbergasted by this, but what can you do? She said come back when my VA rating was higher. Guess I’ll apply for an increase……that’s a whole new fun fight. Wish me luck, as that’s all these processes seem to be.

    1. You need to buy that Vocational Rehab book and fight. Even if you never win be a thorn in their side. You can’t survive as a children’s party planner. That is insane.

  4. I found it ironic that the Voc Rehab presentation film had an individual representing the “program,” a man that had gotten his Bachelors while in the military. He suffered from PTSD. Voc rehab helped him in obtaining his Masters. About 2 hours after watching the film, my Voc Rehab counselor turned me down for getting my Masters. All I could do was shake my head! I just don’t get it!

    1. Your voc rehab counselor turned you down because he has found a way to get a cash bonus or at the very least favors from the VA in some form or another for shafting you and other veterans out of their hard earned benefits. The people collecting these bonuses are being heavily investigated and they are all going to end up in prison if they don’t stop it and start serving the veterans they are obliged to serve.

  5. It would be nice if colleges followed reasonable expectations on Voc Rehab for veterans. The college I had voc rehab for social readjustment purposes terrorized me, by acts of an instructor and administration. When I complained to the VA the VA heavily sided with the college although the instructor in question admitted to the Dean that he made bizarre and dangerous remarks to me and other students related to his intense anger issues that involved his strong verbal suggestions that homicides be carried out by students. It is ironic that I was supposed to be getting social readjustment when it turned out that this instructor and the entire administration of the college, and the VA itself, all except the Dean of Psychology who was over this bizarre anti-social instructor, flat out conspired to destroy my life because I complained about the instructor. I saw corrupt and incompetent failures in the military but this was actually much worse because there was no rational explanation as to why the college would band together behind a complete idiot instructor who was trying to get his students to carry out harmful and dangerous acts of violence. When I tried to repeat voc rehab at a later date the college and the VA got together and made sure I could not, they heavily retaliated, causing me great harm through gross abuse of human resources, all to protect a clearly dangerously antisocial maniacal acting instructor, apparently just because he had tenure. How pathetic for so called enlightened intellectuals and high educated persons to treat a totally disabled veteran or anyone like this.

    1. Bruce, my GOD brother!!
      This sounds horrific! Help me understand how Voc Rehab had you in a social readjustment program. Were you enrolled in a degree program? What is your SC% rating? For what?
      I am deeply sorry that the very people who are supposed to support us turned on you. Did this IDIOT of a professor really ask you to kill someone? Who and why?

      Hang tough brother, you WILL prevail!

      1. Robby, it was at Butte College in California. Instructor Sirianni told me, and the rest of the class, to go to the corporate headquarters of the very large utilities company that serves northern CA, and start shooting. He heavily targeted me, used bizarre forms of hypnotic suggestions and relaxation techniques mixed with other classes where he went into wild screaming rages with intense profanity. The whole class was terrifired by him and were being heavily brainwashed by him, but I stood up to him as I had been through so much hell in the Marines that I could see what he was doing. Amazingly, this moron psycho fully admitted to the Dean of the Psychology department what he was doing after I finally filed a grievance against him. The entire college came down on me, and on my wife, using campus police and other resources to terrorize us, especially me. Cops hid around campus, I would find them hiding with their guns, as some administrator or another instructor or staff member would try to provoke me and or my wife, sometimes by them using other students who were intensely antisocial and clearly crazy and dangerous. I was trying to get to the point that I might be able to go back to work, but was simply taking Voc Rehab for what the VA calls social readjustment pursposes. I am 100% service connected for ptsd with related head injuries and other serious injuries that nearly killed me over a period of many months of hazardous duty. The VA has the worlds biggest a s s h o l e s running the show who are all too willing to take the side of a veteran hating college staffed by liberal antiAmericans. It is beyond belief the extremes these jerks went to terrorize me and my wife, and I am sure they have done it to other veterans. A Veterans Service Office student worker who actually tried to help me and my wife regarding this was removed from his position by the ass who runs the VA office on campus. Chico State University did the identical kind of stuff to my wife after she started there, and it was an overwhelming nightmare to finally get the VA office and Director of that campus office off of our ass by going to the Presidents office on campus. The presidents office at Butte College was staffed by a president and staff who were total a s s h o l e s and they absolutely worked heavily together, for years, both colleges, trying to get me killed, as in shot by the police, which all started because I did nothing, and never did anything, but professionally and calmly tell both campuses that the insane stuff started by a homicidal conspiracy project of an insane professor was totally unacceptable. This is where some campus shootings and other public shootings come from, I mean, some insane professor with tenure like Sirianni either plans a mass murder to be carried out by third party students, or by someone downtown somewhere that he or she has access to and influence over. Ironically, if that is the right word, there was, after several years of this maniac Sirianni being allowed to remain on staff, a mass murder just a few blocks away from the location he was plotting the murders for. The utility company had since relocated, and the mass murder, ended up being carried out by a student shooter on a college campus. How convenient, and what a coincidence, huh? The VA has terrorized me and my wife and kids for years over this and other issues. I recently got an anonymously sent federal notice in the mail stating that I am not allowed to talk about my ptsd issues, ever, even though the missions I served on are long since declassified. How nice that some liberal moron somewhere came up with such nifty federal laws and rules that state that a badly disabled vet with ptsd can never talk to anyone about he hell they went through for this country. That notice from the feds came in the mail shortly after two VA doctors told me and my wife I could not even say the name of the old, no longer classified, program I was distantly involved in in the military. We, America, have been taken over by spineless idiots who think war is a game you play on a video console, and you just hit the off button or walk away to the kitchen for a snack if the going gets too tough. What in the hell is wrong with America and the VA and colleges and so many other authorities to treat vets and our troops like this? Thanks for your support, and thanks for your service. I will get back to suffering in silence now, physically from the wounds and injuries that the VA continues to ignore, and having a wonderful time with the ptsd from hell that was handed to me for doing my job in the Marines. Anyway, have a nice day Robby.

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