VA apprenticeship program to train, employ Veterans to assist other Veterans in properly filing for VA benefits


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Veterans service organizations (VSOs) play a major role as advocates for the Veteran community, and as partners with VA, to ensure this nation’s Veterans receive the benefits they have earned. An important part of this partnership is to support VSOs as they train their advisors on the benefit process.

VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program recently entered in to an agreement with Paralyzed Veterans of America to participate in an apprenticeship program to train Paralyzed Veterans’ employees on how to assist Veterans to file for and obtain their benefits. A similar program is currently in effect with the Disabled American Veterans organization.

Paralyzed Veterans is an advocate for quality health care, spinal cord injury and disease research, VA benefits, and civil rights for Veterans and all people with disabilities. As a service oriented non-profit organization, Paralyzed Veterans employs national service officers to serve Veterans.

“The apprenticeship program with Paralyzed Veterans will put much needed resources into communities nationwide to work with our Veterans and assist them in applying for benefits,” stated Tim Johnston, supervisor for rehabilitation services at VR&E. “This not only gives those accepted into the program a skill, but ensures that Veterans in communities, large and small, have access to trained professionals who can help them understand the process and apply for those benefits they have earned and deserve.”

In a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations, Paralyzed Veterans will provide a 36-month on-the-job training program to qualified Veterans who are selected for the apprenticeship program. Most of the apprenticeship is supervised work with some classroom and on-line learning. These are full-time national service officer positions.

Pay during the apprenticeship is supplemented by the VR&E program. For the first 12 months, those selected for the program are paid $2,890 per month by Paralyzed Veterans, and an additional $651 from VA as a training allowance. In the remainder of the apprenticeship, Paralyzed Veterans pays $3,166.66, and VR&E pays $375 per month for training. The VR&E training allowance to the Veteran is tax-free. VA also pays for the training and necessary supplies.

Selection for the program generally comes from two sources. Paralyzed Veterans may notify VR&E that they have a candidate in mind, or a VA vocational rehabilitation counselor can recommend someone for the program.

The current memorandum of understanding will be in effect until May 2021.

How to apply

To be considered for this program, you must be receiving services from VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment  program. If you are not receiving services from the VR&E program, but would like to, you will need to apply.

To apply to VR&E, please go to eBenefits and click on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment under Apply.  You may also submit a completed application (VAF 28-1900) at the local VA Regional or outbased office, or mail the completed application to the closest regional office. Remember: not all Veterans are eligible for VR&E benefits, but to become eligible, you must have a service-connected disability of 10 percent or more.

Next, after establishing eligibility, you must also be determined entitled for services under VR&E. Entitlement is based on the Veteran having an employment handicap affecting their ability to obtain and maintain employment. It is after you have been found entitled and you have had an opportunity(ies) to meet with your vocational rehabilitation counselor that you will discuss your interest in the apprenticeship program. If the apprenticeship program seems like a good fit, the counselor may recommend you for the program. Additionally, there must be a need within the local Paralyzed Veterans of America office for a trainee.

Paralyzed Veterans may also notify VR&E that they have a candidate in mind. This candidate must also be receiving VR&E services, or they will need to go through the process explained above.

If you have any further questions, please contact your local VR&E regional office

Author

Donna Stratford

Donna is a public affairs specialist in Veterans Benefits Administration Corporate Communications. She spent most of her career in government public affairs and communications. She recently completed Rating Veterans Service Representative training. Donna is an Air Force Veteran and retired from the Air Force Reserve.

Comments

  1. Xavier Justice    

    PVA is a trailblazer. This has been my life dream to have the opportunity to help other vets. I would love to be considered for this apprenticeship. Perhaps, eventually, all other veterans service agencies would follow PVA’s lead.

  2. Buzz    

    Sounds good in theory, but lets see how it works out before we get too excited.

  3. Sheila Manns    

    I’m a 40% disabled Desert Storm and Desert Shield Veteran. It would be a pleasure and an honor to be apart of something so life changing for Veterans like myself.

  4. Barry    

    This truly is a blessing to serve other vets! Give us some information on applying, contacts, etc.
    Thank you!

    1. Donna Stratford    

      In order to be considered for this program, you must be receiving services from VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program. If you are not receiving services from the VR&E program, but would like to, you will need to apply. To apply to VR&E, please go to eBenefits and click on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment under Apply. You may also submit a completed application (VAF 28-1900) at the local VA Regional or outbased office, or mail the completed application to the closest Regional Office. Please note that not all Veterans are eligible for VR&E benefits.

      Next, your eligibility for VR&E will be determined. To be found eligible, you must have a service-connected disability of 10 percent or more.

      Then, you must be determined entitled for services under VR&E. Entitlement is not an automatic determination, but is one based on the Veteran having an employment handicap affecting their ability to obtain and maintain employment. Once you have been found entitled and you have had an opportunity(ies) to meet with your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC), please discuss your interest in the apprenticeship program. If after your discussion(s) with your VRC and the apprenticeship program seems like a good fit, then the VRC may recommend you for the program. Additionally, there must be a need within the local Paralyzed Veterans of America office for a trainee.

      Further, Paralyzed Veterans may notify VR&E that they have a candidate in mind. This candidate must also be receiving VR&E services. If the candidate is not receiving services, they will need to go through the same process as explained above.

      If you have any questions on this program, please contact your local VR&E Regional Office. Thanks again for your interest. We’re excited to get this program started!

  5. Laurel D Wetzel    

    I have always helped and want to help fellow veterans but where I live now it seems like they don’t care. Plus I’m not paralyzed but am 60 per cent disabled.

  6. j reynolds    

    @Donna Stratford — Sure would be nice if you published the blog’s good news on Facebook OR at least provide a direct link on this type of page. The FB link here only goes to the Home page and this type of post IS NOT included anywhere on the VA FB at all.

    Let’s get with the times so I can share good news with fellow vets who may not see the newsletter as I do. Thanks

    1. Donna Stratford    

      Great suggestion. I’ve sent it to our Facebook staff.

  7. Wladyslaw S Pogorzelski    

    I have helped vets to recover from alcoholism since 1979. I am not paralyzed but am home bound and 60 per cent disabled. I retired in 1989 as 1SG and recovered alcoholic.

  8. Wladyslaw S Pogorzelski    

    I have helped vets to recover from alcohol abuse since 1979. I am not paralyzed but am home bound and 60 per cent disabled.

  9. david r ambs    

    please send me info on this training blind left eye have not worked since march 1997 have claimes in to va unemploribility help d r ambs

  10. ALEX S. SALTER JR    

    I would like to be apart of this program Thanks

  11. Rebecca Ann lozano    

    I’m not paralyzed either but I am 100% t&p disabled with employability I do this already I’ve helped several veterans put together and file completed claims and have won first time through I’ve also recently help an ex soldier of mine get a discharge upgraded and now qualifies for full benefits

  12. Pastor Shilo Frampton, CSO, DSO, VSO, FBO    

    Finally, I am elated to hear an Organization and the VA have came together to help our Vet’s get their combined needs attended to.
    I have been a CSO & DSO for MANY years with the American Legion, VFW, AMVETS and now the DAV. This always has been free gratis since I started over 20 years ago. To have the opportunity to get more schooling, and actually have income comming in would be a God Send. It is very hard on the pocket book, but gratifying to the heart and soul when a fellow Vet leaves my room breathing just a bit easier. Please let me be apart of this new venture so my 50 to 60 hours a week can continue.
    Thank You so much and God Bless our Veteran’s, both Men & Women, our Country, our Flag and our Veteran Organizations. I will pray for this personally, it would help my Family so I could in return help my Brother’s and Sister’s so much more so I could take an enormous relief off their shoulders with items for their families.
    Pastor D. E. Shilo Frampton
    (redacted)

  13. Karen Mariea Warren    

    This new program for veterans sounds great. Please inform me how to apply for trainer position.

    Thanks,

  14. Bruce Edquist    

    Is there any chance of being recommended for this program even if you are not paralyzed? And how would one go about doing that?

  15. Tim Cox    

    Seems like a great program. Would love to be a part of this. How do we get more information?

  16. Teddy Corral    

    I have filied for VR&E and have not heard back from the Regional Office in Los Angeles since May 2017. I would certainly be interested in this apprenticeship program-to-train-and employ-veterans- in properly- filing-for-va-benefits.

    1. Donna Stratford    

      We’re very sorry that you have not heard back on your application. Please try contacting the Los Angeles Regional Office again. Here is a link to VA’s Regional Offices. http://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/offices.asp Thank you.

  17. James Tobleck    

    Another bandaid for a totally ridiculous ratings system and let’s not forget the assine appeals process. The constant over ruling by non doctors is unconscionable. Please Director Shulkin explain the 40 year delay in my total knee replacement. The best B.C. Mi. Directors chief of Med services refusing to allow local surgery in favor of clear across state to the zero star John Dingell hospital. Another appeal, look at my stack . I’d love to show you what you can do with the total B.S. I’ve experanced.

  18. Kyron D Anderson    

    My community needs people to strengthen this initiative. I also would like to help.

  19. Deborah Alexander    

    How do I get information on this program? Who do I contact? I would definitely love to apply for selection to this apprenticeship program.

  20. Cathyj    

    100% t&p, not paralyzed and would like more information on steps necessary to participate in the apprenticeship program.

  21. Theresa Russell    

    I would also love to be a part of this program. Please give more info on how to be part of this. It sounds too good to be true. I hope it is real. I am a vet, Always Army!!

  22. Robert Estrada    

    Where can I start I’m from Tucson As

  23. Calvin Lowe Perry    

    (Redacted)

    Please send all paperwork for this project.

    1. Gary Hicks    

      Mr. Perry, could you be more specific on the information that you are looking for. Selection for the program generally comes from two sources. Paralyzed Veterans may notify VR&E that they have a candidate in mind, or a VA vocational rehabilitation counselor can recommend someone for the program.

      DAV has a similar program and your local office should be able to assist.

  24. GILBERT KIAHA    

    What’s the pay per annum of being an DAV Officer?

  25. Jessica D Bledsoe    

    I will be graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in December 2017,I would love to be considered for this apprenticeship training. I have over 20 years of mental health experiencing and nursinfg from the Veterans Admin. Medical center, SalisburyNC. I am attending school through voc rehab at 80% service -connection. Not paralyed, but difficulty walking,etc from fibromyalgia.

  26. Robert Goldman    

    I am working on my bachelors degree in the VRE program already. Is there a part time option available? Is it possible to continue my plan while doing this program, if part time is available?

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