Veterans with a VA-established disability rating or employment handicap may be entitled to benefits under Chapter 31 of the GI Bill. Services can include:

  • One-on-one counseling
  • Training
  • Education
  • Assistance with job placement

Vocational counseling can help identify abilities, skills, interests and needs. As determined from the counseling, education and/or training may be advised. That can range from entering paid training like an on-the-job training program or apprenticeship, or a type of non-paid training.

Financial assistance for training and education is available to help pay for post-secondary, vocational/technical, business school or OJT/apprenticeship training necessary. Once trained or finished with the education program, job placement services kicks in. Job-search and work readiness skills are honed, along with resume development training and the use of some of the special employer incentives available to VocRehab participants.

Eligibility and entitlement – two separate things

As strange as it may sound just because a veteran is eligible, s/he may not qualify for the entitlement. The first step to determining eligibility is to submit the following documentation within 12 years from date of separation or when first notified of a VA service-connected disability:

  • Discharge other than dishonorable
  • Service-connected disability rating of at least 10% or VA disability rating of at least 20%
  • VR&E application

Once eligibility is approved, then an evaluation can be scheduled to see if an employment handicap does in fact exist, and if it does, the best course of action to rehabilitation and meaningful employment. Once a plan is in place, then your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) will continue to track progress throughout the program via continuing periodic counseling.

In short, your VRC will work with you to:

  • Determine your skill set(s)
  • Discuss suitable employment options
  • Look at job availability and salary information in your geographic area
  • Identify an employment goal
  • Create a program for success
  • Provide the resources necessary to complete the program

If a handicap is not discovered, the VRC will help identify other rehabilitation and employment services that could be available from other sources, such as at the state or county level.

In the case of severely handicapped veterans, the eligibility period can be extended beyond the 12-year limit. Also, part of their rehabilitation plan can include living options that may include home modifications via either Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant.

Pay while in the program

VocRehab participants are paid a subsistence while in the program. A veteran with two dependents can get up to $885 per month. Those with Chapter 33 (Post 9/11 GI Bill) eligibility left can choose to receive their GI Bill monthly housing allowance in lieu of subsistence. In most cases, the housing allowance is a higher monthly amount than subsistence.

Chapter 31 and the VocRehab program can be a real boon to veterans with employment challenges because of their military service. For veterans needing help, take the first step and apply online at VONAPP.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.