VA implements new changes to program helping vets after leaving military

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 8:10 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs is changing the name of a program that helps veterans find work.

Veteran Readiness and Employment, formerly called Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, will help vets explore employment options and adjust the training they need.

William Streitberger, the director of the program joined us on BVTM Thursday to explain why they changed the name and what they have to offer.

“Over the last two years, we heard from veterans all across the country who told us they won’t remember hearing about Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment and if they did, the name really didn’t resonate with them,” Streigberger said. “They didn’t understand vocational in terms of modern career opportunities, and rehabilitation kind of gave them a connotation around brokenness.”

Streitberger says veterans who apply to the program are veterans with a service-connected disability, but they have a barrier to achieving employment because of those disabilities. This program helps them through the process of identifying what their specific new goal should be and then supporting them through education training and a host of wrap-around services to make sure that they are successful.

The VR&E is shifting its program to ensure they are engaged with veterans during the pandemic.

“We remain engaged with them. We continue to work with them and employers to help them either maintain that employment or gain new employment opportunities through our efforts and our employment services portion of the benefit that we offer,” Streitberger continued. “A lot of folks are either awaiting employment opportunities that of him put on hold because they’re pending licensure certifications, employers have paused hiring authorities based on the COVID environment and the uncertainty about when folks will return to the workplace.”

The program is also implementing a VA video connect platform to keep in contact with veterans during the pandemic, and help them with employment.

But they don’t want the virtual aspect to deter vets from seeking help.

“We know that there are four generations of veterans in our programs today and we’re very mindful that each of those generations prefers a different level of service and engagement with us,” Streitberger continued. “We’re very sensitive to that and we’re very committed to providing them with the level of service that they expect based on their comfort in engaging us with the benefit.”

This program isn’t just for veterans or active duty service members; it can help family members, too.

“In certain cases like education and other vocational aspects of career counseling and the like, we do support certain family members who are receiving benefits from the Veterans Benefits Administration,” Streitberger said.

Many VA clinics are closed right now due to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines, but you can still contact them for help.

The call center phone number is 1-800-827-1000. They are not closed for business, but they are maintaining service continuity through the VA video connect platform and tele-counseling.

To be part of this program, you must have a service-connected disability rated at 10% or higher, or you must not have passed 12 years since the date of the discharge or the first receipt of a compensation decision for a disabling factor.

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