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Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment

7 Steps to Preparing for Your Next Mission

7 Steps to Preparing for Your Next Mission

If you have a service-connected disability that prevents you from continuing your former career, you may be able to receive one-on-one support from VA to help you identify and prepare for exciting new employment opportunities. VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors (VRCs) and Employment Coordinators (ECs) are ready to help you and other Veterans with service-connected disabilities find meaningful, sustainable careers.

Step One: Apply

It's simple to apply.

  • Go to eBenefits.
  • Click on "Apply for Veterans Benefits via VONAPP".
  • Create a VONAPP account or login using your existing account.
  • Choose Vocational Rehabilitation (Form 28-1900) from the drop down menu and follow the prompts to fill out the form.
  • Servicemembers who have a disability that began or became worse during active duty and who have not yet received a Service-Connected Disability Rating do not need to wait to apply. See VA Form 28-0588 for further instructions.
  • Eligible Servicemembers and Veterans may also apply for educational vocational counseling by filling out VA Form 28-8832 electronically or by hand and submitting it to your nearest VA Regional Office.

For Servicemembers: Ill or injured Servicemembers who have not yet received an SCD rating do not need to wait to apply. Servicemembers expecting a discharge that is not dishonorable who possess a VA memorandum or Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) rating of 20 percent or more—as well as Servicemembers currently going through a Physical Evaluation Board—may be eligible to receive Vocational Rehabilitation (VocRehab) services.

Step Two: Letter of Eligibility

Once you have applied and are deemed eligible, you will receive a letter confirming your eligibility and inviting you to attend orientation. If you are not eligible for services, you will receive a letter explaining why.

Step Three: Orientation

During orientation, a counselor will cover the following information and answer any questions:

  • The benefits and services offered by VocRehab
  • The time limits that may impact access to benefits
  • How vocational goals and entitlement to benefits are determined for each Veteran

Step Four: Individual Assessment

Following the orientation session, a counselor will work with you to conduct an in-depth assessment of your interests, abilities, and aptitudes. The assessment process includes a one-on-one discussion of your interests, a review of your service-connected disability and its impact on your career options, and an academic evaluation. Following the assessment, your entitlement to benefits will be determined. VA’s goal is to help Veterans with a Service-Connected Disability prepare for, find, and keep suitable employment. If your Service-Connected Disability does not impair your ability to find and keep a suitable job, your counselor may refer you to other resources or programs.

Each case is different; the only way to determine your entitlement is to apply.

Step Five: Vocational Exploration

Vocational exploration is an ongoing process. You and your counselor will work to find the appropriate program and structure to support your career goals. You will discuss the training programs, job opportunities, or independent living services that best meet your needs. Your counselor will offer suggestions and advice to help you make best use of your benefits. You may meet with your counselor several times to establish your plan.

At the end of this process, you’ll have chosen a career path and defined the services you need to be successful in your career. Everything needed to put your plan into action—applications for school and jobs and research for special equipment—will be lined up.

Step Six: The Rehabilitation Plan

Once you’ve decided on the employment track you want to follow and completed all the foundational work to succeed on that track, you and your counselor will develop and sign off on a rehabilitation plan. Your rehabilitation plan is your individualized outline of the services and resources that will be used to help you achieve your career or independent living goals as well as criteria that ensure your goals are being met.

Step Seven: Prepare for Your Next Mission

To accomplish the goals outlined in your rehabilitation plan, you’ll continue to work with your counselor, who will help coordinate services and process payments for education, training, and equipment.