On January 7, 2010, C&P Service released Fast Letter 10-03, Chapter 35 Benefits for
Dependents of Servicemembers. This letter contains guidance for the development and processing of claims for Dependents’
Educational Assistance (DEA/chapter 35 benefits) under Public Law 109-461. Section 301 of the law allows the Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay DEA benefits to dependents of severely disabled servicemembers who are pending discharge from
the military. Eligible dependents may now receive DEA benefits before servicemembers are discharged.
The new category of eligible persons includes the spouses and children of active
duty servicemembers who at the time of VA’s decision:
are hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care, services, or treatment;
have a total disability permanent in nature, incurred or aggravated in the line of duty in the active military, naval,
or air service; and are likely to be discharged or released from service for the disability.
Free Retreats for Women Vets
To be eligible for these retreats, women veterans must:
Have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan during OIF or OEF
Have been in counseling at a Vet Center or VA for at least three months
About the OEF/OIF Women Veterans’
These 6-day retreats are a powerful, energizing way
for women who have experienced the human impact of being in a war zone to recover their personal strength and vitality. Participants
may use this retreat to recover from whatever way they feel that the war has personally affected them, whether that is healing
from combat stress, PTSD or MST, re-adjusting to civilian life, addressing other personal issues, or gaining practical everyday
skills like financial know-how or enjoying the company of others who have been in similar circumstances.
In the aftermath of military service, many women find that their ‘comfort zone’
in the civilian world has become smaller, and that their lives have become constricted in one way or another. One’s
range of activities, self-expression, and ways of being with others and one’s self can narrow in an effort to ensure
safety and predictability. As a result, confidence in one’s ability to negotiate relationships and unfamiliar situations
can drop. These retreats provide an open and affirming forum for women to take steps toward the fuller life that they envision
for themselves. The nourishing natural environment, and the support of others on a similar path, gives women on the recovery
retreat a series of opportunities to recognize their strength and capabilities, and to practice new ways of managing unfamiliar
situations and relationships. Each woman will bring unique issues, needs, and challenges to the retreat, and all participants
will share the intention to stretch themselves in ways that are appropriate for them, and the intention to support others
on a similar journey.
The path to growth and recovery almost always involves
stretching outside of one’s comfort zone, and it can sometimes feel awkward or uncomfortable. This ‘stretch’
will be different for each woman, but common themes that may emerge include trust, setting boundaries, asking for support,
finding one’s strength and competence, practicing positive ‘self-talk’, and staying present in the presence
of fear. We feel strongly that each woman needs to be fully in charge of the degree of stretch that is appropriate for her.
You will have complete choice about whether you participate in any activity, and to what degree. Your facilitators will help
you explore your options, and provide education about how to make self-affirming choices. You will be asked to always follow
safety protocols, but aside from that, you can trust that your facilitators will always support your choices, and that you
will never be pressured into doing something that does not feel right to you.
Are these retreats right for me?
must meet the eligibility requirements listed above. It is also important that you have your own personal reason for coming,
and some understanding of how your deployment is affecting you at this point in time. A desire to move forward, a willingness
to stretch in order to do so, and an interest in connecting with other women veterans are also important. If you are unsure
about why you want to come, it may be helpful to first talk to your counselor to identify the issues you are working on.
VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration’s
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program is intended for veterans who have a combined service-connected
disability rating of 20 percent or more and for certain service members awaiting discharge due to a medical condition. A veteran
with 10 percent combined service connected rating may apply for benefits but must meet additional entitlement criteria. The
mission of VR&E is to help veterans with service-connected disabilities and certain service members awaiting discharge
due to a medical condition to prepare for, find and keep suitable employment. For individuals entitled to benefits but with
disabilities so severe that they cannot immediately consider work as a viable option, VR&E offers services to improve
their ability to live as independently as possible.
that may be provided by VR&E include:
Comprehensive vocational evaluation to determine abilities, skills, interests, and needs
Vocational counseling and rehabilitation planning
Employment services such as job-seeking skills, resume development, and other work readiness assistance
Assistance finding and keeping a job, including the use of special employer
If needed, training such as on-the-job training (OJT), apprenticeships,
and non-paid work experiences
If needed, post-secondary training at a
college, vocational, technical or business school
rehabilitation services including case management, counseling, and referral
disabilities are so severe that you are unable to work, independent living services may be provided. A program of independent
living provides the services and assistance necessary to ensure each eligible veteran is capable, to the maximum extent possible,
of living independently and participating in family and community life activities with the added potential of eventually returning
to work. Services/Benefits may include, but are not limited to the following:
Services to address any
personal and/or family adjustment issues
Independent living skills training
Connection with community-based support service
To receive and evaluation for VR&E services, a
· Have received, or will receive a discharge that
is other than dishonorable
· Have a service-connected disability
rating of at least 10 percent
· Submit a completed application (VA
Form 28-1900) for VR&E services
The basic period of eligibility in which VR&E services may be used in 12 years
from the latter of the following:
Date of separation
from active military service, or
Date the veteran was first notified by
VA of a service-connected disability rating.
The basic period of eligibility may be extended if a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) determines that a
veteran has a Serious Employment Handicap.
Subsistence Allowance - in
some cases, you might require additional education or training to become employable. A VR&E subsistence allowance is paid
each month during training and is based on whether you attend training full-time or part-time, the number of family members
you have, and the type of training.
In summary, a veteran or service member
must complete an application and meet with a VRC to determine eligibility. If the VRC determines that an employment handicap
exists as a result of a service-connected disability, the veteran is entitled to services. The VRC and the veteran will then
continue counseling to develop a plan to address the rehabilitation and employment needs of the individual.
The rehabilitation plan will specify an employment or independent living goal, identify
intermediate goals, and outline services and resources needed to achieve these goals. The VRC and the veteran will work together
to implement the plan and achieve successful rehabilitation.
If a veteran
is found not to be entitled to services, the VRC will help the veteran locate other resources to address any vocational rehabilitation
and employment needs identified during the evaluation. Referral to other resources may include state vocational rehabilitation
programs, Department of Labor employment programs for disabled veterans, state, federal or local agencies providing services
for employment or small business development, internet-based resources for rehabilitation and employment, and information
about applying for financial aid.