It’s common for the federal government to be characterized as bureaucratic, inefficient and uncaring. When a seal or acronym represents the federal administration you interact with, it’s easy to think of it as a faceless, shapeless entity. But everyday, hardworking Americans go to work all across the country and these civil servants quietly work to make the lives of Veterans better, healthier and more productive.
VA wants you to know who we are. We want you to know that many of us are you, and we want to share with you what it is we do and why we care.
Meet Brian Venerick with the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).
Venerick is an Army Veteran from Clearfield, Pennsylvania, who deployed to Afghanistan in 2006-2007 with the 250th Personnel Service Battalion out of Fort Dix, New Jersey as a human resources non-commissioned officer (NCO).
“My mission was multiple while deployed: postal operations, manifesting and base security,” said Venerick, who also served three tours in South Korea during his military career. “Re-integration, for me, was great because the New Jersey Army National Guard had a ‘demob’ unit with VA reps ready to support every soldier.”
Venerick continues to serve in the Army Reserve as a master sergeant and area leader for career counselors in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Those experiences, he says, enable him to relate to his fellow brothers and sisters in arms, as it informs his mission as a senior lead program analyst for the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).
“I wear a few different hats for OEO,” he said, “including HR, budget, special projects, internal and external requests for information, like Congressional inquiries or requests for information, providing testimony, or facilitating Office Government Affairs or Inspector General inquiries.
”OEO includes VBA’s Education Service, Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) program, and Loan Guaranty, which provides benefits to Veterans, service members and their dependents. Simply put, these programs exist to improve their economic opportunity.”
VBA’s Education Service oversees various forms of the GI Bill and its accompanying benefits. “VocRehab,” as VR&E is colloquially known, is an employment program that some disabled Veterans can use to learn new skills to find or enhance their employment prospects. It often contains an education component, such as obtaining a college degree or skills certificate or license. Like the GI Bill, Loan Guaranty oversees all facets of the VA home loan, which has benefited millions of Veterans since 1944.
As a service-connected disabled Veteran, Venerick knows these programs firsthand, as he is also a GI Bill graduate, having used the benefit to obtain a Bachelor of Arts, a Masters of Public Administration and a human resources grad certificate. That’s when he decided to join VA.
“I joined [civil service in 2009] through the Presidential Management Fellow Program, and then selected VA due to the mission and my investment into our community,” he said. “But as a disabled Veteran, I believe it helps [inform my work] in VA that I’ve also been in Veterans’ shoes.”
“The thing I’d want people to know about VA is that even those who haven’t served still care. A large part of us [are Veterans] or currently have spouses who’re serving in those shoes.”
The work I do arms OEO leadership with the knowledge and tools they need to help Veterans use VA benefits to grow their economic opportunity, which means utilizing our three business lines to create certain opportunities [life goals], like employment, homeownership, and education goals to stimulate a Vet’s economic growth.”
Thank you for your service, Brian, and for continuing to serve our community.