There is an education and employment program for Veterans that many of them may be unaware of. Veteran Readiness and Employment, (VR&E), was formerly known as Vocational Rehabilitation or Voc Rehab. It is often referred to as Chapter 31 as well.

This program assists Veterans, who have sustained service related disabilities or injuries, prepare for, and find careers after their military service. VR&E goes way beyond just having the GI Bill to pay for college.

*Although she is currently working remotely, her office is located in room 210 of the Ellington Building.

Just as every individual’s military experience is different, so are their requirements and goals from the VR&E program. Success from the program itself is also defined by each participant.

“A ‘successful closure’ is usually one that entails a Veteran obtaining or qualifying for suitable employment, or if they’re unable to work, an improved quality of life based on independent living services provided,” Christina Hicks, Vet Success Counselor for the Department of Veteran Affairs at the APSU campus said.

For Veterans that are unaware of the eligibility criteria there are basically two main elements needed to qualify. Hicks explains that “a Veteran who wishes to apply must have an honorable discharge, and a VA service-connected rating of 20% or more.” This rating pertains to the percentage of disability a Veteran sustains from their time in service.

She goes on to express how she can help Veterans on campus if they are unsure.

“For APSU students, I am able to expedite these entitlement determinations and I often do several throughout the year. All they need to do is reach out and I can verify if they are eligible and get them scheduled,” Hicks said.

Veterans that have been out of the service for several years may still be eligible, depending on their situation. Generally, a person is only eligible up to 12 years after their military separation or notification of their disability rating, but they may still be able to apply.

“There is a chance that the individual’s circumstances warrant services under our program and we can establish that Chapter 31 services are needed,” Hicks said.

Unless Veterans are specifically seeking out this program, they may be completely unaware of its existence and what it can do for them.

“The VA’s VetSuccess on Campus Office does various outreach activities on campus including information booths at university sponsored events and some of our briefings include benefits overview where we discuss and inform Veterans of programs like Chapter 31,” Hicks said.

She also frequently collaborates with other organizations to “ensure Veterans are well-informed.” These organizations include Military Student Center (MSC), Veterans Education Benefits Office, Veterans Upward Bound, Operation Stand Down, Veterans Service Organizations, and the Montgomery County Veterans Coalition.

While many Veterans use this program to receive an education to prepare for a future career, the Chapter 31 program doesn’t stop there. There are so many aspects to the employment services that it provides.

“It involves assistance with resume development, interview skills, providing job leads, and getting appropriate resources to the Veteran to assist them in their job search,” Hicks said.

As a Veteran who utilizes this program myself, I have found that it is a great way to honor those who have served. When I get ready to graduate next spring, and search for my new career, I am definitely looking forward to pursuing the other services that this program provides.