Getting Career Ready & How the VA Can Help

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**All of this information has been taken from the VA Transition Guide. We have broken down the information into much easier pieces for you to navigate.**

Even More VA Resources…

This is another information-heavy post. The VA has lots of great resources to help your career once you decided to transition back into the civilian sector.

On-Campus Support 

Some schools have special VA support directly on campus, such as the VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) and Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership (VITAL) programs.

What is the VSOC program?

VSOC provides on-campus benefits assistance and counseling to help you complete your education and prepare to enter the labor market in a viable career. VSOC is available to anyone currently eligible for or receiving a VA education benefit or Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) training. This program:  

  • Provides VA career counseling benefits at participating schools by placing professionally trained VA career counselors on many college campuses.
  • Helps you get oriented into the campus environment and supports your education goals.
  • Aims to see you graduate so you can go on to thrive in the career field and community of your choice 
Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership program (VITAL)

The VITAL program provides on-campus clinical care and coordination among your local VAMC, VBA, campus faculty and staff and community resources. It provides VA coordinators at some colleges and universities to help Veterans integrate into college and university life. 

The VITAL program provides services with your well-being and best interest in mind, such as:

  • College Success Coaching and Transition
  • Resource Referral
  • Behavioral Health
Can I get VA services if I don’t attend one of these schools?

If you are unsure of what school is right for you or your campus is not a VSOC or VITAL location, the Personalized Career Planning and Guidance program is available for you. Personalized Career Planning and Guidance is a critical VA benefit providing tailored career planning and guidance that is unique to your needs; it can help you set and achieve personal, career, and educational goals. Personalized Career Planning and Guidance provides you with one-on-one support whenever you need it.

Check out the following links for more info:

    1. Vet Success on Campus (VSOC)
    2. VITAL Program
    3. Educational and Career Counseling
VA Work Study

If you’re a full-time or three-quarter time student in a college degree, vocational or professional program, you can “earn while you learn” with a VA work-study allowance.

You might be able to receive a work-study allowance (in addition to your education benefits) for performing certain types of VA-related work while enrolled in a college degree, vocational or professional program. You must attend at least three-quarter time and your allowance is based on the number of hours of work you perform

There are specific programs that make you eligible for an allowance. VA will select students for this program based on different factors, such as:

  • Your ability to complete the work study contract before your eligibility for education benefits ends.
  • Job availability within your normal commuting distance.

Note: The number of applicants selected will depend on the availability of VA-related work at your school or at VA facilities in your area. Veterans with service-connected disabilities of at least 30% may be given priority consideration.

How much could I earn?

You will earn an hourly wage equal to the federal minimum wage or your state minimum wage, whichever is greater. If you’re in a work-study job at a college or university, your school may pay you the difference between the amount VA pays and the amount the school normally pays other work-study students doing the same job as you.

Learn more about Work Study HERE.

On-The-Job Training and Apprenticeships

The VA can help you learn a trade or skill through VA on-the-job training (OJT) or apprenticeships.

These programs can help advance your job prospects by allowing you to learn a trade or skill through training on the job rather than attending formal classroom instruction. 

Both OJT and apprenticeship training programs are available to:

    • Veterans
    • Spouses and children getting benefits through either the Fry Scholarships or the DEA program
    • Children who receive transferred benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill

Note: This training is not available to active-duty service members or spouses using a transferred benefit.

What types of opportunities are available? 

There are a wide variety of OJT and apprenticeship opportunities available. 

Some examples include: 

  • Union Plumber
  • Hotel Management
  • Firefighter

For more information, check out this link: On-the-Job Training and Apprenticeships

How do I get these benefits?

You’ll need to make sure the program is approved for VA education benefits. Use the GI Bill Comparison Tool to find out if the program is approved.

You’ll most likely need to enter into a training contract for a specific period with an employer or union and, at the end of the training period, you gain job certification or journeyman status.

If you’re a Veteran in an approved program, you can use your GI Bill benefit and get tax-free money for books and supplies.

Are these opportunities paid?

Employers generally pay a reduced on-the-job and apprenticeship wage (must be at least 50% of journeyman wage). 

    • Unless the training establishment is operated by a federal, state or local government, periodic wage increases must be granted and, by the last full month of training, the wage must be at least 85% of the wage for a fully trained employee. 
    • If you are eligible and participating in an approved program, you may be able to use your GI Bill benefits to receive a tax-free stipend equivalent to the MHA, which is paid in addition to your entry-level wage. 
Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC)

VET TEC matches you with a leading training provider to help you develop skills in one of five high-demand areas. You can start or advance your career in the high-tech industry with a training program that will take months—or just weeks—to complete.

VET TEC is a pilot program. You can participate as long as the funding is available. Under the VET TEC program, you can get training in one of five high-demand areas:

    • Information
    • Computer Science Software
    • Media Application
    • Computer Programming
    • Data Processing

 You may be eligible for VET TEC if all the following things are true – you:  

    • Qualify for VA education assistance under the GI Bill  
    • Have at least 1 day of unexpired GI Bill entitlement 
    • Are accepted into a program by a VA-approved training provider  
    • Are a Service member within 180 days of separation/retirement 

Here’s where to learn more:

Career and Employment Resources 

The VA offers multiple career and employment benefits that can help you prepare for and find a job.

They can support you in all stages of your job search, including: 

    • Returning to work with a service-connected disability 
    • Getting more training for new job opportunities 
    • Starting or growing your own business 

They can connect you with Department of Labor resources for more career advice, help building your resume and access to employers who want to hire Veterans and military spouses. 

VA employment benefits and services include the following programs and more: 

    • VR&E  
    • VA for Vets 

 Learn More about Veterans at VA.

If your service-connected disability limits your ability to work or prevents you from working, the Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E) program may be able to help. 

You might be able to receive VR&E (or Chapter 31) services to help with job training, employment accommodations, resume development and job seeking skills. 

Other services may help you start your own business or live independently if you are severely disabled and unable to work in traditional employment. 

A Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC) will work with you to:  

    • Assess your interests and abilities 
    • Develop your goals for employment and maximum independence  
    • Explore employment opportunities 

If you are eligible, VR&E may provide additional services and assistance not provided by the GI Bill.

They offer five support and service tracks to help you find and keep a job: 

    • Reemployment Track: You may have the right to return to the civilian job you held before you were deployed.  
    • Rapid Access to Employment Track: If you want a job that matches your existing skills, you may be able to get employment counseling and support. 
    • Self-Employment Track: If you’re a Service member or Veteran with a service-connected disability, we can help you start your own business. 
    • Employment through Long-Term Services Track:You may be eligible for education or training that may be able to help you develop new job skills. 
    • Independent Living Track: We offer services to help you live as independently as possible. 

New guidelines allow you to use VR&E benefits and not impact your GI Bill benefits. Veterans who use VR&E benefits prior to using any other VA education program, such as the Montgomery GI Bill or Post-9/11 GI Bill, can still use up to 48 total months of the other educational assistance benefit programs.

For additional clarification, you should contact the VA Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551 (1-888-GIBILL1). 

You are eligible to apply if you are an active-duty service member and:

    • Have a 20% or higher pre-discharge disability rating (memorandum rating) and will soon leave the military, OR  
    • Are participating in the IDES process or awaiting discharge due to a medical condition resulting from a serious injury or illness that occurred in the line of duty 
    • Note: Severely injured active-duty Service members can automatically receive VR&E benefits before VA issues a disability rating, because of Sec. 1631(b) of the National Defense Authorization Act (PL 110-181).

If you are a Veteran and:

    • Received or will receive an honorable or other than dishonorable discharge, AND  
    • Have a VA service-connected disability rating of 10% 

If you are a member of the reserve components* and:

    • Have a VA service-connected disability rated at 10%, OR 
    • Are a Veteran with a service-connected disability rated at least 10% and your VR&E counselor determines you need additional services because of a serious employment handicap, OR  
    • Are hospitalized or receiving outpatient medical care, services or treatment for a service-connected disability pending discharge from active duty, OR  
    • Are severely ill or injured and have been referred to a military Physical Evaluation Board or are participating in the DOD/VA IDES process 

If you are eligible, the VA will invite you to an orientation session after you submit your application, which you can attend: 

    • In person at your nearest VA VR&E Office 
    • By phone  
    • Virtually 

In general, you must use all VR&E services within 12 years from the date you separated from active duty service, or from the date VA officially notified you of your disability rating, whichever is later. The basic period of eligibility may be extended for a variety of reasons, such as recall back to active duty service. Because the 12-year period can be deferred or extended, entitled Veterans are encouraged to complete and submit VA Form 28-1900.

Service members who have a disability that began or became worse during active duty and who have not yet received a service-connected disability rating do not need to wait to apply.

If you have any questions, please call VA Benefits Hotline 1-800-827-1000.

Learn more:

Apply for Veteran Readiness and Employment with VA Form 28-1900

Veteran Employment Services Office (VESO)—VA for Vets 

VA has tools and resources to help you find a job at VA or at any federal agency that interests you.

VA is interested in what you have to offer. VA values Veterans and military spouses because they are highly skilled and dedicated employees. At VA, you will find a place where you can continue to serve as a Veteran and where certain military spouses may serve in federal careers.

VESO, also known as VA for Vets, provides employment readiness assistance to Veterans and certain military spouses seeking federal careers, primarily in VA.

VESO can help you: 

    • Identify tools and resources to find a job at VA or another federal agency. 
    • Provide instructions on the federal hiring process through virtual training opportunities.  
    • Identify federal internships in VA and or other federal agencies to “learn while you earn.” 

Veterans discharged or released from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces under honorable conditions are also eligible for special hiring authorities for Veterans, such as Veterans Recruitment Appointment (VRA). For more information on your eligibility, click HERE.

Per revised 5 U.S.C.3330d(b), the head of an agency may appoint non-competitively:  

    • The spouse of a member of the armed forces on active duty 
    • The spouse of a 100% disabled member of the armed forces 
    • The spouse of a deceased member of the armed forces 

Here are some places where you can learn more:

VA Career internship, training and apprenticeship programs 

VA has several internship, training and apprenticeship programs including: 

  • VA’s Warrior Training Advancement Course (WARTAC) is a national-level training program, lasting up to 12 weeks, for Wounded Warriors and transitioning Service members to learn the skillset of a VA Veteran Service Representative (VSR). You must be on active duty during the entire duration of the program. Successful completion leads to an opportunity to be interviewed and hired by one of VBA’s 56 Regional Offices. You can visit Skillbridge or contact your local Career Skills Program Office for more information on WARTAC.  
  • VA Non-Paid Work Experience (NPWE) provides eligible Veterans and Service members training and practical job experience in federal, state or local government agencies. 
  • VA Acquisition Academy (VAAA) Warriors To Workforce (W2W) offers Veterans with a service-connected disability an opportunity to transition into a new career in the federal government by applying their military skills and experiences to the contract specialist career field.  
  • VHA Technical Career Field (TCF) Program is a 2-year national workforce development training program consisting of technical staff in 13 critical occupations. The TCF Advisory Board determines the occupations each year. 

 Other Federal Career internship, training and apprenticeship programs 

  • DOD Operation Warfighter (OWF) is a Department of Defense internship program that matches qualified wounded, ill and injured Service members with non-funded federal internships for them to gain valuable work experience during their recovery and rehabilitation. This process assists with the Service members’ reintegration to duty, or transition into the civilian work environment where they can employ their newly acquired skills in a nonmilitary work setting.  
  • Vets-to-Feds (V2F) is a Career Development Program, sponsored by the Interagency Council on Veterans Employment, which recruits and supports the development of our nation’s Veterans for careers within the federal government. 
  • DOD SkillBridge helps transitioning Service members gain public and private work experience through industry training, apprenticeships or internships during their last 180 days of active duty service. 

Find out more info:

Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) provides an array of services to help Veteran-Owned Small Businesses. The services are free, including business development webinars—as well as networking opportunities to meet Procurement Decision Makers from VA, other government agencies and industries. OSDBU also administers the program whereby a firm may apply for designation as a “VA Verified” Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), or Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)

Helpful Links:

Women Veteran-Owned Small Business Initiative 

The mission of the Women Veteran-Owned Small Business Initiative (WVOSBI) is to equip, empower and educate Women Veteran entrepreneurs for success and economic opportunities.

The Women Veteran-Owned Small Business Initiative:  

    • Ensures that Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) have priority over all other socio-economic categories. 
    • Builds awareness of capabilities and underutilization of WVOSBs. 
    • Supports collaboration between federal agencies, commercial entities, non-profits and educational institutions.  
    • Leverages and collaborates with commercial organizations and government agencies.  
    • Increases WVOSB participation as prime vendors for VA. 

The WVOSBI further aims to foster a community among WVOSBs through a sense of collaboration, strategic partnership and sisterhood. For example, facilitating WVOSBs in partnering or subcontracting with one another. Additionally, WVOSBI expands access, economic, procurement and learning opportunities for WVOSBs. 

There are three types of pathways:  

    • Women Veterans are the fastest-growing demographic for VA and the fastest-growing demographic for newly formed businesses.  
    • Women Veteran-Owned Small Businesses are underutilized in the VA, federal and commercial marketplace.  
    • WVOSBI supports VA’s goal of 5% of participation of WVOSBs as prime vendors. 

 Check out the following links for more info:

Veterans’ preference 

Your Veteran status earns you preference in hiring for federal government jobs.

Veterans’ Preference was established by the Veterans’ Preference Act of 1944, as amended, and is now codified in various provisions of Title 5, U.S. Code.

Are you eligible for Veterans’ Preference?

Only Veterans discharged or released from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces under honorable conditions are eligible for Veterans’ Preference. By law, Veterans who are disabled or who served on active duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified time periods or in military campaigns are entitled to preference over others in hiring from competitive lists of eligible positions and also in retention during reductions in force. 

In addition to receiving preference in competitive appointments, Veterans may be considered for special noncompetitive appointments for which only they are eligible. 

There are four classifications of Veterans who are eligible for Veterans’ Preference: 

    •  TP = Preference eligible with no disability rating = 5 
    •  XP = Disability rating less than 10% = 10 
    •  CP = Disability rating of at least 10% but less than 30% = 10 
    •  CPS = Disability rating of 30% or more = 10 

Under the numerical rating system, Veterans are afforded preference points based on their classification. The points gained through this preference are added to their overall rating based on knowledge, skills, abilities and experience.

You must provide acceptable documentation of your preference or appointment eligibility. The member-4 copy of your DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, is preferable. If claiming 10-point preference, you must submit a Standard Form (SF-15), or Application for 10-Point Veterans’ Preference. 

Note: Officers in the grade of Major and above are not eligible for Veterans’ Preference unless they submit a claim to VA and receive a rating due to a service-connected disability. A copy of the VA Civil Service Preference Letter will be provided to the Veteran and must be uploaded with the resume application. 

Special hiring authorities 
    • Veterans Recruitment Appointment Authority (VRAA) can appoint eligible Veterans non-competitively up to GS-11. 
    • Veterans Employment Opportunity Act of 1988: competitive service appointment authority is only used when filling competitive service positions. 
    • 30% or More Disabled Veteran: can appoint 30% or more disabled “qualified” Veterans to positions at any grade level.  
    • Schedule A Appointing Authority can appoint eligible Veterans non-competitively. This applies to Veterans living with intellectual, severe physical or psychiatric disabilities. 
Eligible military spouses

In accordance with revised 5 U.S.C. 3330d(b) and 5 CFR 315.612, the head of an agency may non-competitively appoint the spouse of a: 

    • Member of the armed forces on active duty 
    • 100% disabled member of the armed forces 
    • Deceased member of the armed forces 

Agencies can choose to use this authority when filling competitive service positions on a temporary (not to exceed 1 year) term (more than 1 year, but not more than 4 years) or permanent basis.

A military spouse could be eligible for employment if they are:  

    • Spouses relocating with their spouse under Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders  
    • Spouses of Service members who are 100% disabled due to service-connected disabilities and unable to work 
    • Spouses of Service members killed while on active duty 

 When is a military spouse eligible to use Veterans’ Preference?  

    • If they are a spouse of a Service member with a 100% service-connected disability. 
    • If they are a widow or widower of a Service member who was killed on active duty. 

Time limits on military spouse eligibility: 

    • Those relocating are eligible for 2 years from the date on their PCS orders. 
    • A spouse is permanently eligible from the date on their Service member’s documentation indicating disability or death. 
    • A spouse is no longer eligible if they remarry.


Agencies may use special hiring authority to hire military spouses non-competitively.

Note:The authority does not entitle spouses to an appointment over any other applicant; it is used at the discretion of the agency.

Military Spouse Preference

Military Spouse Preference is a DOD program applicable to positions being filled both in the continental United States and at overseas locations. For more information, contact your local DOD personnel office.

Derived Preference

A spouse, widow, widower or parent of a Veteran is eligible to claim Veterans’ Preference when the Veteran is unable to use it.

Learn more with:

VA Employment Opportunities 

VA has programs to help you find meaningful careers in health care, including specialized and technical career paths.

You can find helpful employment resources at VA Careers and Employment including:  

    • A military skills translator  
    • Resume builder  
    • Help building your career and finding the right job or business opportunity 

The Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) program is designed to hire former military corpsmen and medics into positions at VAMCs.

This program allows you to work in a skilled position right away, while working toward getting a specific degree that can lead to an advanced clinical position. The ICT program has a career pathway for former medics and corpsmen who are interested in academic degrees leading to advanced professional clinical positions.

To learn more about the ICT program, click HERE.

Technical Career Field (TCF) internships function as intensive, 2-year training programs required for certain specialized career paths. These programs are for post-separation. This is the first step to secure an engaging career with VA. Program participants receive paid salary and benefits, training, a travel stipend, access to a mentor and hands-on training. There are several different career fields available within the program.

A few examples of career paths include:  

    • Compliance and Business Integrity: Offers the opportunity to learn and expand your knowledge and skills as a health information analyst.  
    • Finance: Provides a wide range of hands-on fiscal activities such as accounting, budget analysis and VA’s managerial cost accounting system. 
    • Health Information Management: Provides the opportunity to gain substantive work experience at all levels in a clinical setting.  
    • Human Resources Management: Develops well-trained human resources professionals through a comprehensive curriculum that includes both practical and instructive learning segments.  
    • Biomedical Equipment Support Specialist: Provides clinical and administrative support to staff, patients and administrators for the facility-wide life cycle management of medical equipment.  
    • Biomedical/Clinical Engineers:Provides support and advanced patient care by applying engineering and managerial skills to our health care technology. 

Note: Career fields can start trainee recruitment mid-February of each year. People selected for positions can begin working after June 2, but not later than September 29 of that year. 

TAP Curriculum 

The TAP curriculum also provides career and employment workshops. 

You can contact your installation TAP Manager for information on:  

    • Department of Labor Career and Credential Exploration Workshop  
    • Department of Labor Employment Workshop  
    • Small Business Administration Boots to Business Workshop 

Where to learn more?

**All of this information has been taken from the VA Transition Guide. We have broken down the information into much easier pieces for you to navigate.**

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