I mentioned, briefly, in last week’s no-post announcement that I’d been out to an appointment up at the VA. This appointment was the result of my previous application, late last month, for Chapter 31, or the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. I had to go in to orientation, then to see a case worker who helped me determine my eligibility for the program.

My appointment was for 8:45 in the morning. The building it was in up at the VA didn’t open until 8:30, and I arrived about 30-45 minutes early. It was a cold, rainy, snow-flurry morning, but I was well bundled. Several VA employees apologized for not letting me in out of the cold, but Security didn’t start work until close to 8:30, so I couldn’t be let in. I also refused to enter when offered by one person who seemed to desperately want to get me out of the cold, but I didn’t want to get anyone into trouble, and I didn’t know if the lobby was video-monitored when the guards were off duty, so I refused. It was fine, though. Not windy at all, so it wasn’t like I was frozen. Security arrived at about 8:25 and let me in at the same time, and I passed through the metal detector.

Since I hadn’t slept, I’d stopped by the coffee shop in the hospital and picked up a couple bottles of caffeinated soda. I drank about half of one while waiting for orientation to start, and one other applicant arrived while I waited. At 8:45 or so, we were invited into a small meeting room, where we watched a video, someone gave a slide presentation describing the steps we’d take through the VR&E program, then a liaison between the VR&E program and the local State Employment Office spoke with us about what she could help us with.

Afterward, my fellow applicant and I went off to meet our caseworkers. This was the step where we determined my eligibility. This required being able to answer three specific questions with a decided “no.” For me, all three of these questions were correctly answered, which means I qualify for the program. Michele, my case manager, went over my work history and made copies of my college transcripts, and I explained to her (because I thought she might want to know) the reason why I did so poorly in classes was because I’d gone to college after high school “because that was what you did” and that I had no idea what I was going for, so wasn’t committed, and thus didn’t apply myself.

I also told her I’d researched things and determined that Medical Coding and Billing might be the right career for me. We discussed options for education—she wasn’t sure if the local Community College’s Medical Coding and Billing course had certification, so mentioned that Intermountain Health Care periodically partnered with the University of Utah to present Medical Coding and Billing courses in which I would be trained to use IHC’s specific programs. I was willing to consider this and told her so, and she told me she’d look things up, but that I needed to perform an Assessment Exam first. This concluded our meeting, with Michele promising to send me the link and login and password she created for the Assessment.

I went home, zoned for the rest of the day, and then went to bed. Wednesday, I rose, and I found in my email the link and information my case manager had promised for the Assessment Exam, and performed it. After I finished, I told her I’d done it and went on with my writing.

Friday, Michele asked me to come in Monday, so I replied that I would and went in yesterday, arriving, as usual, early. She took me in early, and she we discussed my reactions to high-stress situations and she mentioned a friend of hers who manages the billing office of a hospital or clinic. According to Michele, this friend has had to cut hours or fire employees during times when there isn’t much work, and there are periods where there is a rush to get billing information out. While Billing and Coding isn’t always a high-stress job, there are times when it does involve high stress, and Michele felt it wasn’t the correct career option for me for that reason.

So we did some research online. Michele had previously worked up in Idaho with their labor division and used an assessment form they had online to help me develop a list of possible careers and jobs which I might be able to gain training for. Unfortunately, most of what we found didn’t have any educational opportunities locally. We finally discovered a possible career for me: Library Assistant.

Research led us to an online educational program which would bring me up to an Associates or Bachelors degree for Library Science. Career opportunities here in my city and county had a good outlook. Michele assigned me the goal of contacting the City Library, whose main branch I live two blocks away from, and sent me on my way. When I got home, I contacted the library asking for links to Volunteer and Career opportunities and educational requirements.

This morning, I received a note from an administrative assistant at the library. He provided links to their career and volunteer opportuinties, then told me that they weren’t looking for any Volunteers at this time. His further advice, specifically for getting a paid position, was for me to get a Masters of Library Science degree.

I contacted Michele with this information, and checked my email a while ago to find her suggested solution. Essentially, I’m to check the Library’s site for Volunteer positions for the next few weeks, primarily because she didn’t see any indications the online course she found for Library Assistant made it possible to get a Masters Degree in Library Science online. She told me she knows for a fact a Veteran with no degree was hired on at the City Library, so I think she believes I can Volunteer my way into a paid position, which I’m not averse to doing at all.