Any Veteran can tell you what the GI Bill is, but what about Voc Rehab? You may have seen “Chapter 31: Vocational Rehabilitation” on forms while filling out education benefits, or a bulletin inside a VA medical center, but maybe you didn’t fully understand the difference between Voc Rehab and the GI Bill. If you thought it was just another way to go to school, you’re only partially right.

Most folks know the program as Vocational Rehabilitation or Chapter 31, but it has been reflagged as the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment Vet Success Program. The purpose of Voc Rehab is simple: Assist service-disabled Veterans to train for, find, and hold down a suitable job, or achieve independence in daily living.

What’s the deal?

Voc Rehab is for service-connected Veterans who want to take their careers in a direction that previous training and current disabilities make difficult. After a Veteran is determined eligible by a Voc Rehab Counselor, they can expect these services:

  • Comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine abilities, skills, and interests for employment
  • Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning for employment services
  • Employment services such as job-training, job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance
  • Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer incentives and job accommodations
  • On the Job Training (OJT), apprenticeships, and non-paid work experiences
  • Post-secondary training at a college, vocational, technical or business school
  • Supportive rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and medical referrals
  • Independent living services for Veterans unable to work due to the severity of their disabilities

Who qualifies?

Voc Rehab is a little different than the GI Bill. To apply, you must be at least 10 percent service-connected disabled, hold an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge and apply for the program.  You can receive up to 48 months of entitlement and the period of eligibility is 12 years after separation or the notification of a disability rating, whichever came last.  But, if you have a serious disability, you can use Voc Rehab services after the 12 years have expired and your entitlement can be extended past 48 months.

The importance of Voc Rehab

When folks decide to enter the military, it’s usually at an important time of their lives. Many elect to go into the service instead of college or an entry-level job. Meanwhile, their peers continue their education and gain experience. High Veteran unemployment is a result of many things, but one reason is that employers (and Vets themselves) may find it difficult to determine skills and experience from a DD-214. Voc Rehab can help develop new skills that build on military experience so Vets can remain competitive in the workforce. If that training and education comes in the form of a degree, an apprenticeship or technical school, Voc Rehab can be that extra push for Vets to catch up with their peers.

Tools to succeed

When you’ve successfully entered Voc Rehab, your counselor will help guide you along the process. He or she will work with you to develop a plan to help you achieve your goal with routine updates to make sure you’re on track. They’ll even make sure you’re taken care of physically and mentally by ensuring you are enrolled in VA care. Entry into Voc Rehab will gain access to full VA medical healthcare, including VA dental care, something that is difficult if you’re not rated 100 percent or have a service connected dental injury.

Additionally, if you want to use the program to receive a degree, it will tack on additional months of eligibility if you need more time to finish. It’ll also pay the complete cost of tuition at public and private schools and the full cost of fees, books and equipment you need, such as a computer, to succeed.  VetSuccess will also pay the same housing allowance as the Post-9/11 GI Bill (effective this month) as long as you are eligible for it.

When should I sign up?

It takes about 45 days from submitting an application to being approved for benefits, so get started well before you want to take advantage of the program.

I’m not just the president, I’m also a client

I’ll post more about Voc Rehab in the coming months when I go through the program myself. Though I have a job in public affairs, I want to take my job in a different direction–and that means additional education and training is needed. So I’ll see how it works and report back.

Meanwhile, hit the Voc Rehab main page for a complete explanation of eligibility and benefits, and the VetSuccess page to learn more about education and training opportunities nearby.

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Published on Aug. 11, 2011

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  1. Daniel May 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Can you use the Voc-rehab after you use your entire entitlement of Post 911 to finish a program?

  2. Jeff May 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    I went to my Voc Rehab meeting, they denied me everything! I have no useful skills that can be used in my city. They asked me to list a few different career goals. I told them I wanted to either be a psychologist or an attorney. They tried to hold back their laughter and told me that’s a good plan but they won’t pay for any of that. If they are supposed to tack on more months of benefits for a longer education track, what did I do wrong? Is there a specific way or wording on what you are asking for?

    I filled out another application again today, anything I can do to be more prepared this time instead of getting blind sided by a bunch of no’s?

  3. Clint Hines March 5, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Switched from GI Bill to Voc. Rehab. and made the biggest mistake that I could. I am currently rated at a 20% disability and the courses I requested to take were not approved by my counselor. I recently started a business as a hunting outfitter with transportation from a vessel, Voc. Rehab. approved the $600.00 course for me to receive my captains license but informed me that a hunting guide school was not feasible. Of course i was approved for the $600.00 course and not the $6,000.00 course to operate my business. Whats surprising is that I am not approved because I have a 10% disability for a back injury, so the question I have is that whether my rating is correct or should my course be approved? I guess I should be used to the runaround by now.

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  5. Steve Urquhart December 7, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    I enlisted in October 1989, deployed to Desert Shield/Desert Storm with the 82nd Airborne Division, then served until April 1997 on active duty in Germany. I was honorably discharged, joined the US Army Reserve and attended college from 1998-2000 under vocational rehabilitation, Chapter 31 based on a 30 percent service-connected disability that was determined in 1998 by the VA. I was stop-lossed briefly in the Reserves, and was released in February 2003. Since then, I have been trying without success to apply for the remainder of my Montgomery GI Bill benefit to apply toward my master’s degree. Each application was either lost or correspondence was sent to an address where I no longer lived. When I called in I was told that I had to re-apply. This has gone on for nearly 8 years now, and I am trying to figure out what happened. When I call the VA I am told that processors do not speak with veterans and I cannot get any information at all. Is there anyone who might be able to answer this question?

  6. Raquel Gomez September 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm


    I have a friend who will be rated 70% disabled over the next month or so, he would like to transfer all 36 months of his Post 9-11 GI BILL benifits to his wife. If he does so before he retires will he be eligble for VOC rehab for himself?

  7. Patrick Covington September 1, 2011 at 9:40 am


    I will be finishing up my benefits for the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill within the next few months. I am currently rated at 90% disability. The question I have is, will I be allowed to use Voc Rehab as well to continue my education and to get help finding a job? Thanks.

  8. Victor White August 31, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I have received Voc Rehab, which allowed me to finish up my Bachelors degrre, when I was first rated at 20% from a medical separation from the military in 2005. After that, I wanted to also pursue my Masters, which would greatly enhance my education and skills that allowed me to get my currently employment opportunity, but I was told that Voc Rehab stops at the Bachelors degree level. Has that now changed in any way?

  9. Cindy Dream August 31, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Why can’t veterans get REAL TRAINING for trades & certifications; it’s always Bottom-of-the-Barrel Sorting clothes at Goodwill or mopping pee off the floor of VA senior nursing homes masqueraded as “Job Training”….

    Why do the veterans have to be so hated & disrespected by the VA?

  10. Richard Carter August 26, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    The statement of qualification in the this article is very much inaccurate.
    I qualify on all counts, yet, I have been denied. I am a 60% disabled, combat wounded Vietnam Veteran, seeking to have my computer certifications updated so that I can return to being competitive in the computer industry. I was told that since I hold a Bachelor’s degree, I am competent enough to gain employment without rehab assistance from the VA. It is apparent the VA has a set of rules and criteria which are unrealistic. I have been unemployed, taking a limited number of small part-time jobs for a couple of years. It is evident I am deficit in the certifications I need to return to the occupation I need. It is not that I did not serve my country. I did the job that was the most difficult in all the armed forces: Infantry. It’s time for the VA to stand up and be honorable.

    • Michael Wells August 30, 2011 at 5:27 pm

      You have a total of 12 years from your last “get-out”date to use your benefits. You qualify with your SC disability, but based on the information you have given as a Vietnam Veteran, I can only assume that the last date that you served in any military branch was more than 12 years ago. Is this correct?

    • Earnest M December 9, 2011 at 3:30 am

      You can get more months based on each individual case. I got a BS degree…now because of my health condition and getting sutiable sustained employment…I
      qualify for more time…training…equipment…etc…now I am getting a MS degree…so it works different for different veterans…I know a veteran that got a medical degree and is now a doctor…I am at 50% now but my health condition has changed…Go to. for updates on all benefits…Title 38 of our benefits is a huge thing to understand…you or one could know it all…I have worked as NPWE at VAMC also…I am trying to get my schoo so I can start as a GS-12-14 at VA REGIONAL OFFICE….

  11. Dennis James Jobes August 17, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Join US Air Force June 1970 discharged Oct 1973 enter into the Air National Guard Oct 1973 to Oct 1988, enter US Air Force Oct 1988 to May 2004.

    Used 1 mo 14 days of Voc Rehab Chapter 31 from Dec 2007 to Jan 2008

    Do I still have time left on Voc Rehab?

    • Michael Wells August 30, 2011 at 5:36 pm

      Based on the information you have given, I would say that you have up to 46 months of paid benefit time available for use prior to May 2016 (12 years after your May 2004 date). Other factors are considered as well, such as a viable program time frame to complete the training. This time may or may not be 46 months. It will depend on your specific program that has been discussed with your Councelor at the VOCREHAB office.

  12. Lara McKinley August 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I sent my Disability Compensation and Disability Pension request in with all my records….in October of last year and still haven’t heard anything.

    • Michael Wells August 30, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Your question has nothing to do with Voc Rehab so this blog would be the wrong plass to get an answer, however I can hope to point you in the correct direction. Do you have an Advocate that is representing you and your case to the VA? If not, this may be a good place to start. Every state in the country has veteran assistance offices that can help. Other organizations that can help are VFW, American Legion, PVA, DAV, and many others. These organizations have Service Officers that will be able to give you the best individual attention needed to help you follow-up on your claim, make initial claims on your behalf, make appeals on your behalf and many other benefits.

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