There are little ways and big ways to make a difference in someone’s life. On this National Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day (March 22), Veteran and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) Desiree Dial shares how she makes a difference in Veterans’ lives everyday.

Army Veteran David Norman first met Dial in February 2017 when he applied to the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) program. He had just left the Army and was seeking employment and transition assistance. That led Norman to Bethel University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership.

It was Dial–herself a Veteran–who inspired Norman to “pay it forward.” He now helps transitioning service members at Fort Campbell, Ky., to better understand how VR&E can lead them–like him–into successful civilian employment.

Dial, who works with many Veterans pursuing different career tracks, says transitioning service members are often unsure what they want to pursue straight out of the military, or that they’re often afraid that some career choices could aggravate their disabilities. But it was Norman who most helped her, and he “made me a better counselor” because of it.

“I have this incredible job and opportunity to assist my fellow Veterans in identifying and reaching their employment goals,” Dial said. “This not only allows them to be successful, it permits them to provide for themselves and their families while increasing their self-esteem and confidence.”

Dial still receives phone calls and emails from other Veterans–like Norman–that she has helped over the years.

“It is a humbling experience,” she said, “and it reminds me constantly of the importance of what I do, the positive impact I can have on other Veterans’ lives.”

Around the country

Dial is just one of many VRCs around the country who exemplify VBA’s dedication to serving and inspiring our Veterans and service members. It’s a true one-on-one experience for each participant, and she and many other VRCs exemplify the best of what VBA offers, to make a difference in the lives of those who have served.

For more information on Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, visit

Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado is a marketing specialist in VBA’s Office of Strategic Eengagement. Stephen Sears is a change management agent at the Nashville regional office. 

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Published on Mar. 22, 2020

Estimated reading time is 1.9 min.

Views to date: 232


  1. Tony Scham April 18, 2020 at 7:04 am

    Hey I think they helped me tremendously, I’m grateful to my chapter 31 counselors especially the Marine I started with. Very direct and no bullsht and I needed that.

    Thank you VA, its not a perfect system but there is tremendous good that occurs without positive attention.

  2. Marco Freybeir April 3, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Good news stories are wonderful to hear about. There’s truly not enough of them. For all those negative people leaving negative comments, I would like in enlighten you’ll. Of course not every single counselor looks out for your best interest, but I bet the majority do. I imagine it’s difficult dealing with veterans who expect a handout because they are lazy, feel entitled, or because of the color of their skin. Just imagine seeing several people a day who lie to you to try to get in the program. It’s employment services, not “Hey, I’d like a degree to make my resume look better.” I too am a veteran, I was denied, but I’m not bitter about it. I’m glad the counselor was doing her job and weeding out people who shouldn’t be in the program. I applied because I was told to but didn’t understand what the program was truly for. So all you Debbie downers, negative Nancy’s, and freeloading Fredrica’s pick yourselves up, dust yourselves off, get a job and appreciate the people who try and help you.

  3. Chandra Wilson March 28, 2020 at 12:48 pm

    I am glad that Army Veteran David Norman met Ms. Dial and that she has been instrumental in assisting him with his needs. I am in the DC VR&E program and is unemployed and have not received my monetary stipend that I was told they submitted me for me 3 months ago. I have not received my reimbursement for travel pay that was I was told to me 3 months ago that had been submitted. This has been tough. I find myself searching around trying to connect with other organization like AMVETS and American Legion to assist me with employment assistance and work training that will equip me to be more marketable in this harsh and competitive workforce right now.

  4. Glenn A. Wilson March 26, 2020 at 3:46 am


  5. Harry A Thomas March 26, 2020 at 1:45 am

    Pensacola, FL : They would not approve me into the program because I already had a degree, which is not listed as an ineligibility ANYWAY on the program advertisements. No help on attaining suitable employment based upon my training and experience and no interest in helping find employment opportunities beyond low level service industry type employment. I’m 100% and I got nothing (2 months pay in early 2000s) from VR&E. Also, as previously noted, there seems to be scant oversight and accountability to the veterans. These type stories just infuriate me.

    • Tony Scham April 18, 2020 at 6:56 am

      Harry, I just left Fort Walton Beach area on a Chapter 31 “rapid employment” and one of my counselors was in Pensacola. I’ve just completed my first year working and my Chapter 31 will be stopping. Just to provide some foundation.

      I had a masters degree program but I couldn’t find suitable employment and plus my disabilities we’re causing me to miss work quite a bit. It still does but it’s more managed now, and oddly managed better without medications.

      My recommendations:
      Study the M28R as that’s the guidelines for how benefits, assistance and such is derived from.
      Present the program you want, direction you want and substantiate how you think this will help and the outcome of it.
      Costs associated with it.

      Basically, every time I saw my counselor he was extremely frazzled or busy (Not being derogative) but the amount of systems and recording of this stuff was tremendous. Since your home and I assume not working, read the M28 and educate yourself on how you can get what your looking for to aid in your rehabilitation and also make it an easy approval for your counselor.

      Chapter 31 has very little limitations on what they can pay for, authorize and approve for benefits was my perception. So while it isn’t as “efficient” in providing education benefits like Chapter 33 is administered; but that’s because they have to apply this manual to 5 different systems and approve funding specific to your rehabilitation needs.

      It’s a given, if they can get you working while being frugal with tax payer money they’ll do it. I’d be specific, detail why and present it to them from their manual. It helped me.

  6. Roger H May March 25, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    A large part of the problem is the management! They keep closing out-based offices, saying they are no longer needed due to telecounseling, yet don’t hire enough counselors to even be able to return calls!

  7. Cynthia Nelson March 24, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Just leaving this – RIGHT HERE! – It is FRUSTRATING to be playing “Ring around the posies” with a vocrehab counselor. I dealt with a change of counselors that put me in a situation of her continually stating that she “couldn’t open the document submitted” or countless messages stating that she’s “in a meeting”. Submitted receipts and grades in a timely manner, yet had to continue to repeat the process countless times that I started emailing AND personal drop offs. The counselor always threw the delay off onto her manager; “My manager is asking for this”, “My manager has this new process”…this gets so effing tiring! I completed my Texas Teachers online and Field Base Experience and still had issues with timeliness from the Houston VocRehab – after my counselor switch. Came abroad for a teaching job and submitted the letter to vocrehab in Sept2019. I left in Nov2019 but didn’t hear anything back from vocrehab until January 2020. SMH – all I can lastly state is that I understand and agree with the other frustrations and fed-ups that I am reading here.

  8. David L. Parker March 24, 2020 at 3:55 am

    This is a promotional fluff piece for the program, anyone who has ever had the displeasure of dealing with them knows how terrible the counselors are. The worst part is that there is no oversight for the department and complaints are never addressed.

  9. Patrick Velazquez March 24, 2020 at 12:46 am

    This is just so false. VRE don’t answer or return your phone calls and don’t offer the support they say. They’re seeking excuses to refuse veterans. For example, they’re not going to accept you for what you want to get education, they’re going to choose what you want to do.

  10. Brian Wilson March 24, 2020 at 12:16 am

    This is a load of crap. Whole rule of VR&E is you need to prove to them your degree program field is viable and has proven future growth.
    Walking in their and saying “Hey, I want to get a degree to be a leader”
    You would never be approved for that field at all.

    I went for Aerospace Engineering/Unmanned vehicles. They approved, signed contract to pay for classes. When payment came due. They did not pay, refused to pay, would not see me in person and always hung up on me when I called for status/ update (this was the VR&E boss Nashville TN)

    Had to pay classes out of pocket. As soon as I did they magically became available by email,phone and appointment. Then of course they refused to even talk about robbing me.

    I went to more than three VR&E offices/ Veterans assistance officers for help. Guess the common thread…. all were gifted new apple smart watches. They used our money as normal to by themselves presents.

    I’m tired of fighting for what is my right. Had to drop out since can not afford out of pocket myself.
    Offices were Nashville VA and VR&E offices, MTSU college VET heads, Military liaison at MTSU (Huge bag of political air),
    Also DAV was visiting MTSU while this was happening and reviewed my paperwork and seen how Nashville VR&E reviewed, approved and signed contract for my classes and so did VET center at MTSU said they have to pay since they approved them. Yet, as everyone else, none would help me and all avoided/ignored me.
    I’m beyond tired, I ask and expect very little from people yet still get no help.

  11. Janessa B March 23, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    It’s great that they are featuring a one-off situation that proved beneficial. From my personal experience, people have the “got mine” mentality while working there. It is incredibly hard to get a straight answer on anything.

    The whole point, that VOC rehab is advertising, is to get veterans into careers. As a 70% disabled veteran (rated when 28 years old), I wanted a new career that I could feasibly do to provide for myself and my son (who happens to be special needs and requires more costly care than the typical child). I was told, after expressing concerns regarding job availability in the current market for my selected field with the current plan in place, that I was going to be placed in whatever job would take me upon completion of my degree. When I tried to mention the issues I personally face, as well as the monetary concerns regarding “whatever job,” I was talked over, dismissed, and belittled.

    When speaking to another representative about this, I noticed that they closed ranks and made excuses citing how capable their people were. Her attitude didn’t change until I bcc’d a higher up from the main channel. Then suddenly she was super nice and accommodating. I’m leaving the program at the conclusion of this semester. You couldn’t pay me enough to endure any further belittlement. I’m not a pauper, holding out my hands, treated as though I should be grateful for the crumbs given me. I gave up my physical health to serve my country. That was never something I had counted on, but it was the price I paid. To be treated like that when I live in such pain all the time… It dehumanizes you. The system is a joke. Glad it works for some people, but the vast majority I have talked to just want to hurry up and be done because their counselors were terrible and treated them shabbily also.

  12. Mohammed March 23, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    I made a comment and it did not show up .. are guys choosing what to show here

  13. Mohammed March 23, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    This the biggest lie on the world , I’m 70% disable and been unemployed for 4 years , got approved by VRE 6 months ago and they still playing games with me to get back to school delaying everything for me and ignoring my requests out of retaliation due a complaint I made against them

  14. Robert Cala March 23, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    It’s great to see how manipulative this information can be. VR&E is a waste which in my personal opinion should be shut down, and allocate these resources for something real productive and real for Veterans. They’re a bunch of pay eater, they will do nothing for you other than complying with their quarterly requirements, keep the money flowing to the program, and securing their pay checks.
    I graduated with a Master in Clinical Psychology, with a 3.79 G.P.A, after all I’m not that stupid as they consider me right?Yes they pay for my degree but then what….why can’t they place me at the VA or any GOV institution after graduation, or even find me an internship elsewhere… why? simple ’cause they don’t fricking cares. I still struggling to find a decent job, I went back to them for advice, worst mistake I have made, because the only thing I got was a rejection letter. I gave up trying, and asking these insensitive person for help. Since they paid all that money for my education, and I did complete the program, I can call this EVEN.

  15. Sean Tigert March 23, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    VR&E is the worst. I’ve had the worst experience with the Houston VR&E for the last 4 years. They continue to avoid helping me with the training required for employment in the field of study. They are truly the bureaucrats that you hear veterans like myself continue to have terrible experiences with. My experience with them has been a nightmare, I’ve gone to the extent of hiring an attorney just so I can receive the training needed for employment. I’m currently 90% you would think they are here to help Disabled Veterans with employment. Wrong
    If at all cost avoid the Houston VR&E,

  16. Gina Leggs March 23, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    This is so wrong. VRE dont answer or return your calls and dont provide the help they claim to. They find reasons to deny veterans. For instance they wont approve you for what you want to seek education in they will choose something you dont want to do.

    • Tony Scham April 18, 2020 at 7:01 am

      Well (not to defend your specific counselors) I just finished almost a year under chapter 31 and they spent very little (that i’m aware of in rehabilitating me. It is tax payer money they have to steward and they have to assess what they apprise will help you.

      My counselor was a Marine and he was a realist, no bullsht just here is what it is. If you want it make changes and do it. I appreciated that, while I didn’t get what I initially wanted or the subsistence allowance I thought but I have to say I’ve been working consistently for a year and that’s a milestone in my life.

      I feel like I had to be “ready” to make the changes and then they helped. I had asked maybe 6 years post military and I wasn’t denied but I was pushed to the wayside. Probably for good reason too, I don’t think the rehabilitation plan would’ve been successful at that time anyways.

      I hope this helps.

  17. Alfred Perez March 23, 2020 at 11:49 am


  18. Alfred Perez March 23, 2020 at 11:47 am

    I am not 30% service connected so i dont qualify for VR&E but what happens when appeal goes thru and all those years of help denied i can never get back

    • Russ P March 23, 2020 at 8:08 pm

      I was denied in 2016 and again in 2018. I was approved last month and and my disability rating is 10%. Stop whining about time lost and look to the future.

  19. Keith C Salamy March 23, 2020 at 2:05 am

    No it doesn’t. This is fake news. How do these people have jobs

    • Jerald Guadalupe March 23, 2020 at 8:06 am

      What do you mean fake news ? ( Explain please.)

Comments are closed.

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