Also known as Chapter 31, this is one of the lesser known of the GI Bills. VR&E, also called Voc-Rehab, is available to veterans that have service-connected disabilities. Many of them are left with an employment handicap making it difficult for them to find rewarding work commensurate with their abilities.

With this GI Bill, eligible veterans go through an evaluation to determine their interests, skills (including transferable), needs and what they can do within their disability as a first step to training for and securing employment. After evaluation, a veteran meets with a vocational counselor and together they start laying out a path to employment.

The path generally will follow one of four different tracks:

  1. Employment with a former employer
  2. Employment with a new employer
  3. Employment through long-term services
  4. Self-employment

Employment services, such as job-search, resume development and other work readiness assistance, is provided along with direct assistance at finding and keeping a job. VR&E also uses employer incentives to reward companies that hire veterans. They assist the employer by helping provide solutions to any special needs, equipment or job modifications that must be made to make the job possible and easier for the veteran to succeed.

Besides direct employment, OJT, apprenticeships and non-paid work experiences are all avenues that are explored and considered training for the purpose of the program. If a veteran needs something as far as post-secondary education to better qualify for a position, VR&E provides financial assistance to attend a university, vocational, technical or business school to get the required degree, certificate, diploma or whatever is required to better position that individual for the targeted job.

To be eligible for Chapter 31, a veteran must meet two requirements: have a discharge other than dishonorable and a service-connected VA disability rating of at least 20%. And there is a time limit on using the services of this program. Eligibility expires either 12 years from the date of the latest discharge or 12 years from the date first notified by the VA of a disability rating.

In addition to a monthly payment, some veterans may also receive a monthly subsistence allowance based on the number of dependents. For example, a veteran in the full-time rehabilitation program with two dependents could get up to $942.44 per month in subsistence with an extra $68.68 for each additional family member. With a VR&E monthly payment of $2,728 and $942.44 per month in subsistence, a family of three – two dependents and the veteran – could earn $3,670.44 per month while in the rehabilitation program full-time.

For VR&E veterans that are also eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, they can choose to be paid under that GI Bill program instead which in most cases, the monthly rate is higher as is the monthly housing allowance. Rate of pay while in the training program is paid at the 100% tier level (regardless of the veteran’s actual tier level) and the housing allowance is zip-code based, but averages over $1,300 per month.

Disabled veterans with a VA rating of at least 20% and discharged less than 12 years ago who are having a hard time finding work may find the VR&E program the ticket to meaningful employment where you can make a difference in your life, your family’s, and help you become a productive member of society again.

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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.