Veterans returning to the workforce after military service face a variety of challenges. Translating your military experience to a civilian resume is one of the most obvious of these. Many times, transitioning from the military is taken for granted in terms of how easy it may or may not be. Fortunately, there is help available for transitioning service members. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers career and employment help through various programs, from job counseling and transition advice to support and training for self-employed veterans.
CareerScope: A Helpful Tool To Use Before You Start Your Transition
Long before you get your retirement orders and begin outprocessing, you should review your job skills and think about how you can transfer your abilities to the civilian workplace. The VA offers a helpful tool to start your transition out of a life in uniform and into civilian life. This tool is known as CareerScope and is offered only to qualified military and family members.
Can I use CareerScope?
You can use CareerScope if you’re a:
- currently serving military member
- a dependent who qualifies for or is already using VA education benefits
How CareerScope Can Help You
CareerScope is an assessment tool that will provide you with an evaluation of how your interests, aptitude, and experience can translate into job or learning opportunities.
The Report Interpretation Guide will help you understand your CareerScope results once the assessment is complete. You will get recommendations about post-military careers, education, and training that may help you pursue the career options discussed in the assessment.
CareerScope breaks things down into a dozen “interest areas” that include a set of “work activity statements” from these areas. The assessment covers general learning abilities, manual dexterity, verbal and numerical skills, and more.
Once you complete the assessment, you can apply for VA Education and Career Counseling (see below).
Technical Requirements To Use CareerScope
Use of the VA CareerScope tool requires you to create an account. If you are a new user, you may register on the VA official site so you can begin using the assessment tool.
Chapter 36 Educational And Career Counseling
Those leaving military service may need help finding ways to transition into a civilian career. Some military career fields translate directly into the civilian job market, but others may not be so easily matched with jobs in the private sector. Educational and Career Counseling, or VA Chapter 36, is a free program for veterans with any discharge other than dishonorable. They offer the following services:
- Counseling to help veterans choose new jobs
- Educational and career counseling to locate training programs or job opportunities
- Academic and adjustment counseling
Am I Eligible for VA Educational and Career Counseling?
You may be eligible for VA Educational and Career Counseling if one of the following applies to you:
- A transitioning service member receiving a discharge other than dishonorable within six months of discharge from active duty
- A veteran within one year after discharge from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable
- A veteran, service member, or dependent currently eligible for a VA education benefit
What Kind of Educational and Career Counseling Services Can I Get?
Here are some of the services you are entitled to:
- Career counseling – Helps you decide which civilian or military jobs you want
- Educational counseling – Helps you find a training program or field of study
- Academic and adjustment counseling – Helps you address issues or barriers that get in the way of your success
- Resume support and goal planning – Helps you translate military skills into a civilian resume
How To Apply For VA Educational and Career Counseling
You can apply three ways:
- Log in to your eBenefits account
- Select “Apply”
- Select “Veteran Readiness and Employment Benefits”
- Apply for Educational and Career Counseling
- By Mail
- Print and complete VA Form 28-8832 and mail it to the nearest VA Regional Office, addressed attention to Veteran Rehabilitation and Employment.
- In Person
- Print and complete VA Form 28-8832 and take it to your nearest regional office.
After your eligibility is confirmed, you will receive an invitation to an orientation session at the VA Regional Office nearest you
The VA Chapter 31 Veteran Rehabilitation And Employment Program (VR&E)
If you are a veteran or a currently serving military member with disabilities, you can find assistance from the VA under the Chapter 31 VR&E program. You are entitled to this program if you have a service-connected disability that affects your ability to work. There are five “tracks” designed to help you.
- Reemployment Track – Created to help you know your rights when returning to civilian employment after military service.
- Rapid Access to Employment Track – Made to assist you in finding jobs that match your military skills.
- Self-Employment Track – This track helps veterans like you with a service-connected disability start and maintain your own business or freelance career.
- Employment Through Long-Term Services Track – This track is intended to help if you are eligible for vocational training and help you develop new job skills.
- Independent Living Track – This track matches you with resources to help you live “as independently as possible if you can’t return to work right away.”
Am I Eligible for VA Chapter 31 VR&E Benefits?
You may be eligible for VR&E benefits and services if all of the following apply:
- you did not receive a dishonorable discharge, and
- have a service-connected disability rating of at least 10% from VA, and
- applied for VR&E services
There is a basic maximum eligibility time frame of 12 years from the day of your separation from military service or the date of receipt of your first VA disability rating.
Am I Eligible for Chapter 31 VR&E Benefits if I Am Still on Active Duty?
You may be eligible for VR&E benefits when the following conditions apply:
- you have a 20% or higher pre-discharge disability rating (memorandum rating) and are departing military service soon, or
- you are participating in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) process or waiting for a military discharge due to a medical condition resulting from a condition that occurred in the line of duty.
Basic Services Available Through The VA Chapter 31 VR&E Program
Depending on your needs, services may include:
- Evaluations to determine your job abilities, skills, and interests
- Vocational counseling
- Rehabilitation planning for employment services
- Job training, apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
- Resume development
- Training/learning at a college, vocational, technical, or business school
- Case management
- Medical referrals
- Independent living services if you’re unable to work due to disabilities
Applying For VA Chapter 31 VR&E Benefits
You can apply for VR&E benefits online by either going right to the online application or answer the questions about your particular case. Either way, you’ll have to sign in using your va.gov account with DS Logon or My HealtheVet accounts. If you don’t have one of these accounts, you’ll need to create an id.me account.
You don’t have to wait until final outprocessing and discharge to apply for VR&E benefits. You can fill out VA Form 28-0588, VA Veteran Rehabilitation – Getting Ahead After You Get Out, and submit it to the Department of Veterans affairs. Eligibility in such cases is possible if one of the following is true:
- You are in the process of being reviewed by a Physical Evaluation Board, or
- expect an other than dishonorable discharge and have a VA memorandum rating of 20% or more, or
- you are in the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES).
After you have applied, the VA will arrange a meeting with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to determine whether there is a current or potential employment handicap and discuss eligibility for VR&E benefits and services.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will make what they call an “entitlement decision” and begin working with you to develop a rehabilitation plan and schedule the use of services.
Contact the nearest VA office in your area to learn more about Chapter 31 VR&E benefits and how they apply to you.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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