Veteranclaims’s Blog

February 27, 2010

VA Voc. Rehab. Success Rate as Low as 18%, VAOIG

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — veteranclaims @ 12:43 am

Voc Rehab:
“The VA claims it successfully rehabilitates 75 percent of the veterans admitted to the system.”

“But by not counting the veterans, like Smith and Frazier, who apply but don’t get into the program, the VA is overstating its success. Two years ago, the VA’s Inspector General said if every veteran who applied was counted, that success rate could be as low as 18 percent.”

GAO Report, PDF 48 pages

Full Article at: Wounded Veterans’ New Fight: The VA

By Wyatt Andrews

(CBS) Former Army medic Jeremy Smith was wounded and paralyzed in Afghanistan. Clearly qualified for both medical and pension benefits, Smith was surprised when a Veteran’s Affairs counselor told him he wasn’t disabled enough for vocational benefits.

“How can I not be disabled enough? How much more disabled do I need to be,” Smith asked. “Should I go throw myself under a bus real quick?”

Brandon Frazier has a similar story. A veteran of the 2004 Marine assault on Fallujah, Brandon suffered hearing loss and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.

But as CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports, a VA counselor wrongly told him the VA would not help disabled vets study pre-law.

“It didn’t seem like he was in there to find a way to help me. He was there to tell me I couldn’t,” Frazier said.

“Looking for a way to turn you down,” Andrews asked?

“Right,” he replied.

Then there is Kenny Lyon. A Marine sergeant, whose miraculous battlefield rescue in Iraq – and 2 year fight to recover – was profiled on “60 Minutes.”

60 Minutes: A Fighting Chance

Lyon had to fight the VA for five months – but after being finally told he would get vocational benefits to study at Gettysburg College, the VA called to say stop.

“I was on my way to classes and I got a phone call saying it was not approved,” Lyon said.

“You weren’t getting the tuition,” Andrews asked.

“Yes,” Lyon replied.

The VA benefits these veterans requested are from a program called Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, or Voc Rehab benefits. Separate from the GI Bill, Voc Rehab helps disabled vets get whatever training they need to live on their own or get a job. When it works, which is most of the time, Voc Rehab services range from sign language lessons to technical classes to Harvard Law School.

But in a two-month investigation, CBS News found story after story of veterans who were wrongly denied benefits, veterans who even under the complex rules, should have qualified.

“It makes me question everything I’ve done,” Smith said. “Was it right, was it worth it?”

Voc Rehab does serve more than 100,000 disabled veterans. But in the last two years, the number of new applicants soared – up 28 percent – to more than 78,000 last year alone. The VA claims it successfully rehabilitates 75 percent of the veterans admitted to the system.

“This is an excellent program,” said Ruth Fanning, the program’s director.

“Is 75 percent good enough,” Andrews asked.

“Seventy-five percent is a good number for rehabilitation program”>s and it represents veterans who have completed the program,” Fanning replied.

But by not counting the veterans, like Smith and Frazier, who apply but don’t get into the program, the VA is overstating its success. Two years ago, the VA’s Inspector General said if every veteran who applied was counted, that success rate could be as low as 18 percent.”

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