Borne the Battle #230: Benefits Breakdown, Veteran Readiness & Employment (VR&E)


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This week’s Borne the Battle is a Benefits Breakdown, exploring the Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) service and chatting with its Executive Director and Navy Veteran William Streitberger.

In the Navy for nine years, Streitberger served in intelligence, recruiting and career counseling. Since then, he has dedicated almost 20 years of his career to VR&E, a service that he, himself, used. Following the loss of his job in 2001, Streitberger leaned on the support of VR&E, which at the time was called the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VocRehab).

He became executive director of Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) service in September 2018. As executive director, Streitberger is responsible for overseeing the delivery of VR&E services to Veterans with service-connected disabilities and service members who’re in the process of transitioning from the military to prepare for, find and maintain suitable careers, or obtain independence in their daily living.

VR&E is not “another GI Bill,” and it’s actually separate from the GI Bill. VR&E is an employment service that administers Title 38 Chapter 31 benefits to Veterans with a minimum 10% disability. Eligibility differs from entitlement.

Eligibility

  • Veterans with a service-connected disability of 10% or greater.
  • Must have a discharge greater than dishonorable.
  • Must not have surpassed 12 years from date of discharge or first notification of VA-rated disability.
  • Must have at least one month of eligibility left on your GI Bill.

Entitlement

  • Disability must be directly causing a barrier to employment.
  • Veterans then receive an assessment for interests and capabilities to help find a new career field that will not worsen disability.

Recently, the program has greatly expanded in the last few years. In 2020, VR&E hired 100 more counselors and it plans to do the same in 2021. Since March 1, 2020, VR&E has used VA Video Connect for over 100,000 appointments in an effort to increase accessibility.

In this episode, Streitberger discusses:

  • What VR&E does.
  • Who can apply for the service.
  • What the benefits entail.
  • How to apply for the program.
  • How VR&E benefits differ from and can be used in tandem with GI Bill benefits.


More information can be found at the VR&E home page or by calling 1-800-827-1000.


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Jana Jenkins is a podcast intern with VA’s Digital Media Engagement team. She is an undergraduate student at the College of Saint Benedict studying Communication.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

— VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Steve Marshall    

    I have had nothing but horrible experiences with VR&E. They do not answers questions or are vague with everything. They do not follow the CFR or M28R, when I question them they basically say “too bad” appeal. This is why the appeals line is so congested. Rather than work with the Veteran to a solution the VA employee takes the easy route. If they are getting bonuses still, this should stop or replace many (not all) VA employees who do not know their job. Perhaps this is a VA training issue, poor training and inadequate services.

  2. Harry Thomas    

    It’s infuriating to read these stories when in Pensacola, FL, they tell you that you are ineligible for VR&E, if you already have a degree. It doesn’t matter that you are having difficulty with employment in the field of your major or not, you have a degree period, so no VR&E program. A sham for those DV’s that have an academic record.

    1. Tanner Iskra    

      Hi Harry,

      I appreciate your feedback. I think it my come down to what Mr. Streitberger said in his interview. “Is there a barrier to employment?” My question is, does the degree that you currently have – is that a basic requirement for the career that you are pursuing. If so…what is your “barrier to employment?”

      Reflecting on the conversation, I could’ve asked Mr. Streitberger to help me define “barrier.” Is it pure academic sense or can that include resume writing, interview coaching or the dress for success parts of the VR&E Program? If you would like, it is a question I can send. Feel free to send me an email to talk further to podcast@va.gov

      -Tanner

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