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Experiences of VA vocational and education training and assistance services: Facilitators and barriers reported by veterans with disabilities.

Shepherd-Banigan M, Pogoda TK, McKenna K, Sperber N, Van Houtven CH. Experiences of VA vocational and education training and assistance services: Facilitators and barriers reported by veterans with disabilities. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal. 2021 Jun 1; 44(2):148-156.

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OBJECTIVE: To understand the experiences of veterans with disabilities and caregiving needs who use Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) vocational and education services, including Supported Employment, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment. METHOD: We conducted 26 joint semistructured interviews with post-9/11 veterans who had used at least one of three vocational and education services, and their family members who were enrolled in a VA Caregiver Support Program. RESULTS: VA vocational and education services helped veterans with disabilities transition from the military into civilian life by providing skills and incremental exposure to engaging in everyday life tasks. Veteran motivation, caregiver support, and engaged staff at VA and academic institutions were key drivers of veteran success. Veterans who experienced challenges cited the following barriers: health problems, concerns about benefits loss if they became employed, and VA and academic programs that did not accommodate the needs of nontraditional veteran learners. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: There is a need to bolster VA vocational and educational services for veterans with disabilities in several domains, including modifying the roles of frontline staff and increasing communication between vocational counselors and health care teams to better accommodate the veteran's health-related limitations. Providing a vocational rehabilitation navigator to help veterans identify opportunities within VA and work/educational settings that are a good match for the veteran's goals and abilities could also be beneficial across vocational and educational services. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

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