VA Makes Changes to Vocational Rehab Program Due to COVID-19

Vocational school student in computer lab
Vocational school student in computer lab

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced changes to the Vocational Rehabilitation & Education Program (VR&E) that make it easier for veterans to receive the training necessary for a post-service career.

Effective immediately, the VA will accept a typed signature on all forms related to the VR&E program. This includes application forms, as well as those used to request counseling and additional monthly benefits for veterans with qualifying dependents.

Previously, the VA would accept only completed forms that had the veteran's actual signature on them. Now, it will accept emailed, faxed or mailed forms that have the veteran's typed signature in the signature block.

This will make it easier for veterans to get their benefits in a timely manner without having to leave their homes to find a fax machine or make a trip to the post office just to apply for benefits, officials said.

Related: Understanding the VR&E benefit

In addition, the VA is directing VR&E field staff to communicate with participants electronically during this time of national emergency. This includes utilizing tele-counseling, which is accessible on any web-enabled device with a webcam and microphone (smartphone, tablet or laptop). This will allow veterans to meet with their counselor virtually through VA Video Connect.

Also, veterans currently enrolled in a VR&E program will continue to receive their benefits even if their school changes classes from on-campus to online. There is no action necessary on the veteran's part to keep the benefits going.

Details about the VR&E program

The VA said that claims are still being processed normally and is predicting no delays in benefit payments at this time. With rapidly changing work schedules and locations for VA employees due to the COVID-19 national emergency, VA has also created a centralized mail intake point for all postal mail regarding the VR&E program. The address is:

Department of Veterans Affairs
Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) Intake Center
PO Box 5210
Janesville, WI 53547-5210

The VR&E program provides counseling, training, education and job placement assistance to veterans with a service-connected disability and an employment handicap. Besides paying for school, the program provides veterans with a monthly housing or subsistence allowance while enrolled in training.

The VR&E program offers eligible disabled veterans:

  • Evaluation to determine abilities, skills, interests and needs
  • Career advice and rehabilitation services
  • Employment services, such as job-seeking skills and resume development
  • Help finding and keeping a job
  • On-the-job training (OJT), apprenticeships and non-paid work experiences
  • Financial assistance for college, vocational, technical or business school
  • Independent living services for veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities

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