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Program helps disabled veterans get into the work force during the pandemic

Posted at 10:46 AM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 17:11:33-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A program for veterans is trying to help get them back into the work force. The Veteran Readiness and Employment Services program helps service members and Veterans with service-connected disabilities find and keep a job that they're interested in.

It pairs participants with a job counselor who can work with them to put them on the right path toward finding work.

Participants are offered education opportunities, on-the-job training, non-paid work experiences, internships, apprenticeships, technical and nontechnical training, and help with certifications.

Counselors offer help with everything from putting together a resume, interview skills and assistance with finding and keeping a job.

They also work with veterans to set goals to lead them to the career path they are interested in.

Participants choose, with a counselor, from five tracks to employment that include:

  • Re-employment with a previous employer
  • Short-term training that allows rapid access to employment with existing skills and experience
  • Long-Term Services, most often those seeking a college degree but also training, certification, on the job training and non-paid work experience
  • Self-Employment, developing entrepreneurship skills for those who want to plan and start their own business
  • Independent living to be as self-sufficient as possible for those who can’t return to work right away

William Streitberger, the director of VR&E said, ""It's very individualized. We work with veterans to determine their interests, aptitudes and abilities and then help them to achieve those goals."

"Those careers can be in healthcare. They can be in law. They can be in law enforcement. They can be in business. They can be in the trades. We employ veterans in all disciplines of employment throughout the country."

The VR&E program is still helping veterans during the pandemic offering virtual options to meet with coaches.

They use VA video connect which allows veterans to meet with counselors without ever leaving their homes but receiving the same level of service they would if they were able to have in person meetings.

"We are seeing an increase in applications to the program. We are continuing to bring veterans in, conduct our orientations and then, what we call is, develop a plan of service with them and that's where we do that upfront comprehensive evaluation along with the veteran to ensure that ultimately when they exit the program it will be a successful outcome," said Streitberger.

The program was previously called Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment but the name was changed earlier this year after talking to veterans.

According to Streitberger, many veterans hadn't heard of the program or thought the word rehabilitation had a negative connotation and didn't associate it with finding employment.

Veterans and servicemembers are eligible for the program who have an honorable discharge, have at least a 10% service-disconnected disability, and a 12-year window period from service.

Certain family members of veterans and service members are also eligible.

Reach out to the VA to see if you're eligible, either by phone at 1-800-827-1000, or you can click here for more information.