Connecting America’s Veterans to Meaningful Civilian Employment – A Win-Win Proposition

November 10, 2016

This month, SelectUSA is pleased to feature a new multi-part guest blog focusing on workforce opportunities. These posts are authored by members of the Federal Interagency Investment Working Group (IIWG), which is responsible for coordinating activities across federal agencies that promote investment. Read the first entry here.

By the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program

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The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) – which provides a variety of benefits and services to Service members, veterans, and their families – is dedicated to helping veterans attain personal and economic success by building on their unique attributes.

While veterans can invariably face challenges transitioning back to civilian life, the successful integration of our nation’s heroes into the work force makes both families and communities at-large stronger and more stable.

Moreover, companies can benefit immensely from hiring veterans – a unique pool of experienced, dedicated workers with valuable leadership, teamwork, and cross-functional job skills.

This is why connecting America’s veterans to meaningful civilian employment is one of the Administration’s highest priorities.

The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program provides a wide range of vocational and employment services to assist eligible veterans with service-connected disabilities and an employment handicap prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment.  Services are designed to help them receive the skills required to pursue career goals aligned with their rehabilitation plan. These services include:

  • Interest, aptitude and ability assessments
  • Occupational exploration, and career counseling
  • Job training, resume development, and job seeking skills coaching
  • Employment placement services, employment accommodations, and post-employment follow-up

Through the VR&E Service’s Employment Coordinators (ECs) the VBA establishes relationships with employers and partnerships with other organizations to advocate for placement of Veterans.  VR&E’s ECs partner with employers in order to:

  • Address their workforce needs, and education and skills required for placement
  • Promote greater awareness of employment opportunities for veterans with service-connected disabilities
  • Continue communication for the purpose of developing working relationships
  • Ensure the Veteran and the Employer are a match
  • Promote the use of special hiring programs such as the Non-Paid Work Experience, Special Employers Incentives, On-the-Job Training and Apprenticeship to increase Veterans opportunities for placement into meaningful careers
  • Establish Memorandum of Understandings to encourage partnership opportunities between the employer’s local offices and VA’s regional offices, if needed

VR&E’s  Employment Coordinators can assist employers through the following programs:

  • VR&E on the Job Training Program (OJT)

Through the on-the-job training program, VR&E subsidizes Veterans’ salaries so that employers pay an apprentice-level wage while training Veterans. As the Veteran progresses, the employer pays a larger portion of the Veteran’s salary, until the training program is completed and the employer is paying the full salary.  Please review our Understanding On-The-Job Training & Apprenticeship Approval Guide for employers and sponsors.

  • VR&E Special Employer Incentive Program (SEI)

Through the Special Employer Incentive program, employers may receive an incentive to hire Veterans facing barriers to employment, which includes reimbursement of as much as 50 percent of the Veteran’s salary for up to six months. benefits.va.gov/vow/docs/SEIFlyer.

  • VR&E Non-Paid Work Experience Program (NPWE)

The Non-Paid Work Experience program allows local, state, and federal government offices to temporarily employ a Veteran without having the position count against the agency’s full-time equivalent allocation. VR&E pays the Veteran a monthly subsistence allowance while he or she learns valuable work-related skills and experience. Though the office is under no obligation to hire the Veteran, the goal of this program is for the Veteran to obtain full-time, permanent employment in the office where he/she is placed or a similar office. Please see VA’s Non-Paid Work Experience video to learn more about this program.

  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a Federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.  WOTC joins other workforce programs that incentivize workplace diversity and facilitate access to good jobs for American workers. To learn more please see benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/docs/WorkOpportunityTaxCreditFactSheet.

As a member of the IIWG, the VBA gives international firms the chance to invest in one of America’s greatest assets: its people. To learn more about how your company can participate in these programs, please visit VR&E at http://www.benefits.va.gov/vorehab/index.asp.

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