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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Veterans' Benefits: The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program

Benjamin Collins
Analyst in Labor Policy

Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment for veterans (VR&E) is an entitlement program that provides job training and related services to veterans with service-connected disabilities. In cases where a disabled veteran is not able to work, the VR&E program provides independent living (IL) services to help the veteran achieve the highest possible quality of life. The VR&E program is administered by the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA), part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

To be entitled to VR&E services, a veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and be found to have either (1) a 20% service-connected disability and an employment handicap, or (2) a 10% service-connected disability and a serious employment handicap. After a veteran is found to be entitled to VR&E, a counselor helps the veteran identify a suitable employment goal and determine what services will be necessary to achieve that goal. The veteran is then assigned to one of five reemployment tracks:

Reemployment for veterans who wish to return to work they held prior to their military service;

Rapid Access to Employment for veterans who already have the skills necessary to compete in the job market and only need short-term services such as job search assistance;

Employment through Long-Term Services for veterans who require postsecondary or vocational training to reach their employment goals;

Self-employment for veterans who have the skills to start businesses; or

Independent Living for veterans for whom employment is not a viable goal. The most common track is Employment through Long-Term Services, and the most common form of training is undergraduate education.

In most cases, veterans are entitled to a subsistence allowance while they are enrolled in training. In instances where a veteran is entitled to both VR&E benefits and the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the veteran may forego the VR&E subsistence allowance and couple VR&E training benefits with the typically higher housing allowance available under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

In FY2012, approximately 30,800 veterans developed a new plan of service with VR&E and almost 10,000 veterans completed rehabilitation. In FY2013, the VA estimates that mandatory VR&E benefits will cost approximately $921 million. Discretionary support services and other administrative costs will total approximately $234 million.

Date of Report: November 15, 2013
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: RL34627
Price: $29.95

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