Wednesday, 22 September 2021

VA announces fully capable tele-counseling service within its Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program announced the ability for Veterans nationwide to meet with more than 1,000 Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors via “tele-counseling,” or virtual communication.

Tele-counseling, which is accessible on any device with a webcam and microphone, increases VA’s responsiveness to veterans’ needs, reduces travel costs and time for both veterans and VRCs, and improves veterans’ access to necessary Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment, or VR&E, services.

“We strive to provide Veterans with access to personalized, interactive face-to-face care and services regardless of where they live,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VR&E’s Tele-counseling service is another example of how VA continually modernizes in support of veterans’ needs.”

Tele-counseling allows veterans to meet with VRCs virtually through VA Video Connect without having to download specialized software or obtain unique usernames and passwords. Access to a scheduled counseling session is obtained through a unique link sent directly to the veteran and is valid for that counseling session only.

Veterans participating in most VR&E rehabilitation plans of service may use tele-counseling and are encouraged to speak with their VRCs about it. Participation is voluntary and not required.

VR&E’s updated tele-counseling application was developed through a partnership with Veterans Health Administration’s VA Telehealth Services.

VR&E recently tested the ability to use tele-counseling during initial evaluation appointments at six regional benefits offices.

This test was conducted to identify how using tele-counseling can reduce time veterans wait for an appointment. Best practices were identified and incorporated into the rollout of the updated tele-counseling application.

Since 2014, more than 56,000 veterans have either completed a rehabilitation plan, are employed, or have achieved a greater independence in living through VR&E assistance. The VR&E Program currently has more than 122,000 participants.

For more information about VR&E, visit https://www.benefits.va.gov/vocrehab/.

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