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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Veterans’ Benefits: The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program

Christine Scott
Specialist in Social Policy

Carol D. Davis
Information Research Specialist

The number of service members, National Guard, and Reservists who separate from active duty with service-connected disabilities is expected to rise as a result of the engagement of the U.S. Armed Forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. There is concern in Congress that these individuals receive the care and services that will enable them to transition successfully back to civilian life. These veterans must be able to rejoin their families and communities, become employed, and continue to enjoy the highest quality of life possible, given their disabilities. 

Congress authorized the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), through the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Service (VR&E), to provide the support disabled veterans need to successfully complete rehabilitation plans tailored to their individual needs. The VR&E has recently restructured its program in an effort to better accomplish the goal of enabling disabled veterans to gain appropriate employment or live independently. More specialists and counselors have been hired in regional VA offices, and the VR&E has instituted outreach efforts to encourage more veterans who might be eligible for these services to apply to participate in the program. The VR&E has also entered into cooperative agreements with other federal agencies, such as the Department of Labor and the Department of Education, and with private organizations to provide an integrated approach to addressing the employment needs of disabled service members and veterans. 

The VR&E administers four programs: (1) training and rehabilitation for veterans with service connected disabilities; (2) vocational and educational counseling; (3) vocational training for Vietnam veterans' children with Spina Bifida; and (4) special restorative training. In addition, the Coming Home to Work Program of the VR&E Service is designed to facilitate the veterans' return to the work force with maximum speed. This report describes VR&E program services available to veterans with service-connected disabilities and to their families. It provides information about eligibility and entitlement, the application process, and resources available through other agencies. A brief history of the program is also provided.

Date of Report: February 26, 2010
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: RL34627
Price: $29.95

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