Learn how Veterans Readiness and Employment (VR&E) can be a transformative benefit for service members who want to become a commercial airline pilot or pursue another career in aviation. If you are transitioning from active duty or recently separated, VR&E offers unparalleled financial support for flight school and pilot training, with no annual cap on reimbursement and a tax-free Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) available throughout your enrollment, regardless of the academic calendar. This article will explain how to make the most of your VR&E benefits for flight training.
Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) is designed to help veterans with a service-connected disability to live more independently and return to suitable employment. It's particularly beneficial for those seeking to enter the aviation industry because it covers a significant portion of flight training costs, with no annual cap on your reimbursement.
To maximize this benefit, service members need to apply for a disability rating. If you're still on active duty, you should file for disability using the Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program. If you've already transitioned out of service, consider applying for disability through the DAV.org website.
When filing your disability claim, it's essential to be strategic. This means knowing what to claim and what not to claim. Generally, it is advised to "Never claim anything from the neck up." Be cautious about a claim of any type of mental or behavioral health disorder, sleep disorder, any kind of post-traumatic stress. The ideal disability for a VR&E claim is 20% - not more. This delicate balance can be challenging to navigate, and it's worth seeking advice from experienced professionals.
Once you've received your disability rating, you can apply for VR&E through the VA. Come to your VR&E initial counseling session prepared or your claim will be rejected. Prepare using the "Voc Rehab Survival Guide"
Paying For Your Private Pilot License (PPL)
VA benefits do not cover the cost of a getting a private pilots license. The cost of getting a private pilot's license will vary depending on where you get your flight training. It will cost about $14,000 to get a private pilot's license in Kansas at MHK, while It will cost more like $18,000 to get a private pilot's license in San Diego at MYF. To cover these costs, consider taking out a loan or applying for scholarships. Numerous scholarships are available specifically for aerospace education. Visit this free scholarships guide, and don't forget to use the coupon code "OneCrew".
Using VR&E for Flight Training
Our recommendation is to first draw on your GI bill, because it's available immediately and does not require an extended eligibility and filing period. Then once you've received your disability rating, you can apply for VR&E using the official form.
Be sure to come prepared for your initial VR&E counseling session. A lack of preparation may lead to a rejection of your claim. The M28C is the official DOD manual outlining how to handle all VR&E claims. You can browse and search the M28C online. There is a third party publication available for $19.95, The Voc Rehab Survival Guide, that may also be useful in your preparation.
It will normally take several months for VR&E to be approved but once it does it will pick up where your GI Bill leaves off.
VR&E benefits are available at all Flex Air locations, making this an accessible option for many veterans. When using VR&E for flight training, some counselors may require your program to be eligible for college credit. This is not a hurdle for Flex Air students, as they gain credit towards a BS degree at Purdue Global University and AA degrees at San Diego Miramar College.
Navigating the Complex World of Veterans Benefits
Navigating veterans benefits can be complex, but with the right guidance, you can make the most of the support available to you. VR&E stands out as an invaluable resource for service members aspiring to a career in flight. Through smart planning and strategic use of resources like VR&E, SkillBridge and the GI Bill, your dream of flying can become a reality.