VOC REHAB Mission Realigned By VA With Name Change
VA Realigns Mission of VR&E With New Name Change
A statement in early June from the Executive Director of Readiness and Employment Service, William Streitberger, read, “I am pleased to announce the renaming of our program, which became effective as of June 22, 2020. From that date forward, Vocational Rehabilitation (VOC REHAB) and Employment Service will become known as Veteran Readiness and Employment Service. We will continue to abbreviate our program as VR&E.” The new tagline for the program is: “Empower. Achieve. Succeed.”
VR&E is one of the oldest benefits for veterans providing assistance and services to help those who previously served gain civilian employment using a five-track system. Each track helps participants navigate the many aspects of finding and succeeding in a new career field.
5 Tracks of the VR&E Program Guidelines
The Five Tracks of the program follow these guidelines:
- Reemployment: to successfully return participants to a civilian job they previously held
- Rapid Access to Employment: to quickly secure employment with existing skills and experience
- Self-Employment: to plan for and start a business
- Employment through Long-Term Services: to obtain training and/or education, college or certification programs, on the job training, non-paid work experience, apprenticeships, and/or internships
- Independent Living: to become self-sufficient – if the participant can’t return to work right away
Characteristics of the Program
The official VA blog describes some of the characteristics of the program that participants will encounter, such as:
- Exploring career goals and interests
- Pursuing skilled professions or trades
- Selecting and mapping personal goals for employment
- Obtaining formal education or training where tuition, fees, books and supplies are provided at no cost
- Maximizing independence in life’s daily activities
VA Set Out to Better Understand Programs Strengths and Weaknesses
It was identified that changes to the program were needed through “a comprehensive Human-Centered Design (HCD) research effort,” which helped the VA better understand the “program’s strengths, weaknesses, pain points, and opportunities to increase program awareness and enhance the delivery of VR&E services.”
This effort collected information from sessions with veterans, service members, VR&E employees, and veterans service officers, which revealed that the previous program name created confusion, a misunderstanding of the program’s services, and unknowingly cultivated a sense of stigma.
Research after the name change and program updates – specifically around identifying Chapter 31 as a career/employment program – indicates that greater awareness will mitigate confusion and increase participation. “The new name puts an emphasis on the Veteran and the department’s mission to help them reach their employment goals,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
Physical Changes to the VR&E Program
A few of the physical changes to the program are:
- Will accept a typed signature on all forms related to the VR&E program – previously would only accept “wet signature” forms; this should make it easier for veterans to receive their benefits more quickly
- More electronic communication between participants and VR&E field staff; due to the pandemic, tele-counseling should be utilized to allow easier and quicker access for veterans
- Has created a centralized mail intake point for all postal mail regarding the VR&E program to ensure “business as usual” during the pandemic. The address is:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Veteran Readiness and Employment Service (VR&E) Intake Center
PO Box 5210
Janesville, WI 53547-5210
Not the First Name Change for the Program
This program had a previous name change twenty years ago, from Vocational Rehabilitation and Counseling. And some feel that this name change – and the cost it may have carried – came at a poor time during this pandemic. Whatever the future may hold for VR&E, stakeholders and those who benefit from it hope that any additional transformations that may come will not change the good work the program is intended to do.
Learn more about VR&E and apply for assistance here.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Program: What You Need to Know
- Virtual Job Fairs for Military and Veterans
- Take Advantage of the Benefits of Federal Employment
- Webinars for Job Hunting Veterans and Military Spouses