There’s no doubt that shifting from uniformed to civilian life is tough. Veterans in the midst of this adjustment are required to make several important decisions, all while navigating some significant life changes.
One of the most pressing decisions veterans must make during this time involves educational and career paths. Common misconceptions about hiring veterans in a civilian workspace can make transitioning to the civilian sector a challenge. Furthermore, while military service might directly translate into some civilian careers, it is often difficult to match military experience with private sector job requirements.
Fortunately, Chapter 36 VA benefits are available for just this purpose. Counselors can provide guidance to veterans as they consider their options and make decisions that come along with their transition.
Chapter 36 Benefits
Chapter 36 VA benefits (Personalized Career Planning and Guidance) provide veterans with counselling and support related to personal, career, and academic concerns. The program offers free educational and career guidance to student veterans, transitioning service members, and their dependents.
Chapter 36 VA benefits are intended to help veterans understand civilian career options as well as make educational or career decisions based on their personal skillset and interests. As such, Chapter 36 presents veterans with the opportunity to explore personal abilities and interests while establishing career objectives and locating both job and training opportunities.
Specifically, Chapter 36 offers the following services to veterans and their dependents:
- Counselling to establish personal interests, abilities, and skillsets.
- Career and education exploration to help determine the best fit for each individual based on the details established above.
- Assistance navigating additional VA benefits available through various educational institutions and other government agencies.
- Help translating military experience on resumes for application to private sector jobs.
- Coaching for interview success.
- Long-term goal and career planning.
- One-on-one support as veterans adjust to civilian life.
Who Is Eligible for Chapter 36 VA Benefits?
While Chapter 36 benefits are geared towards those transitioning out of active duty, there are VA education benefits for dependents as well as several other veteran populations.
The following persons may take advantage of Chapter 36 VA benefits:
- Service members who will be discharged from active duty in the coming six months.
- Service members separated from active duty in the past twelve months.
- Service members or veterans currently receiving assistance under a VA educational program.
- Service members, veterans, or dependents currently eligible for VA education benefits.
The great news is that veterans and their dependents may utilize Chapter 36 VA benefits as often as they wish, for as long as they are eligible. This means that veterans have the ability to reevaluate their chosen path and, if they opt to make changes, continue to take advantage of the career planning and guidance offered by the VA.
Note: These benefits do not apply to service members or dependents of service members who have been dishonorably discharged from the military.
How to Apply for Chapter 36 Benefits
There are several ways to apply for Chapter 36 VA Benefits.
- Log into your eBenefits account.
- Click “Apply.”
- Select Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Benefits
- Complete the application.
- Click “Submit.”
By Mail/In Person
- Print and complete VA form 28-8832.
- Deliver or mail completed form to the nearest VA Regional Office, Attn: Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment.
Once applications are reviewed, eligible applicants will receive an invitation to an orientation at their VA regional office.
For more information on Chapter 36 VA benefits watch the VA’s Personalized Career Planning and Guidance video (YouTube). Additional information and resources regarding transition assistance can be found here.
Contributed by Melissa Lucas, senior staff writer