Veterans Stop Procrastinating – File Your Claim For Vocational Rehabilitation With The VA

OK so you’re out of the service, back home and everything is
right with the world. Or is it? After a month or so, you’re
sitting around at home and you realize – you really need to
get back to work and make some money- duh. Your significant
others are kind enough to remind you of this and your
disability severance pay is already running through your
budget like water. Now what? Where are all the jobs that
were supposed to be there? Where do you start?

One place to begin is the local employment service office.
But the jobs there are often low paying and demeaning with a
high turnover. Who wants to be an unskilled laborer 40+
hours a week, with no benefits – and work for someone who’s
never been anywhere or done anything and treats you like a
moron? And, forget about medical services for your children
or a visit to the dentist. After the work week is done you
spend the weekend in pain, nursing your painful back and
tend to drink too much as a result.

Alright , so maybe the answer is to find another career –
like you were trying to build in the military, until you
hurt your back and they forced you out.

A career is much better than a job, since you will obtain
job skills that are in demand in the civilian job market,
you will generally earn much better income and will very
often receive some RESPECT along the way! Another important
difference is that you will be using some of your unique
strengths and talents again and going to work Monday morning
will not be such a dismal experience.

You begin to realize that the ideas and plans you made in
the service are not realistic and the job market is nowhere
as good as you had hoped. You also begin to understand the
handicapping affects of your service-connected disability.
Many civilian employers are not enthusiastic about hiring
you for any type of physically demanding job, as soon as
they see that you were separated from the military, because
of fitness for duty standards.

This may be an excellent time to apply for vocational
rehabilitation benefits through the VA. You will generally
need to have a service-connected disability rating of 20%,
or higher from the VA, to qualify for an assessment and
determination of eligibility. You can also apply while on
active duty, awaiting a separation for disability, or
shortly after discharge, by providing medical documentation
from the military and requesting a “Memorandum Rating”. In
this case the VA Rating Specialist does a quick review of
your Service Medical Record and makes an unofficial
determination that you probably qualify for a 20% or higher
rating. This decision in turn, allows the Vocational
Rehabilitation Division to work with you, as if you already
had your permanent rating. You need to file an application
online, or by filling out and submitting VA Form 28-1900.
Call toll free 1-800-827-1000, or download online from

The VA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor will make a
determination that your service-connected disability creates
an “employment handicap” for you (or not -you can always
appeal, if necessary). This in turn basically means you are
prevented from “obtaining or maintaining” suitable
employment because of your service-connected disability.
What is suitable employment for you? Good question!
Basically, it is substantial (skilled) employment which is
consistent with your “demonstrated” interests, aptitudes and
abilities and for which there is a job market. The VA will
evaluate interests, aptitudes and abilities through your
military training and employment; through your civilian
education and employment history; and through standardized

It may be that you have done a great deal of soul searching
and know exactly what you’d like to go into, or get training
for. Or it may be that you haven’t got a clue – either way,
you can get assistance towards defining a new career goal,
as well as possible funding for further education, or career
training. The VA is also able to provide direct employment
assistance if it is felt you already have marketable job
skills, but you have a need for some direct assistance (ie. resume, etc).

Finally, you need to be realistic with yourself, as well as
the VA and employers! Don’t ask for training to be a
carpenter, for example, if you have a back disability.
Whatever career goal you establish, has to be reasonable in
terms of your health challenges, your capabilities and the
civilian job market. Remember, you really only want to be
going through vocational rehabilitation once – then it’s on
to bigger and better things!

Gregory Marlett I welcome emails related to this article. For more information, visit

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