I have seen my VR&E counselor again. The last time I saw her, we weren’t able to determine what educational track may be best for me; all we did was eliminate Medical Coding and Billing from my roster. We also checked into some other educational tracks, even looking at getting me into online courses for a degree in library science (art—I’ve forgotten which), but the only course which could have helped me get a job at the local City Library was out of state and would have required me to move because they didn’t have any online courses for it the degree.
Between my appointments, since we’d eliminated my primary educational “desire” as well as the library one, I forwarded to Michele a list of other courses I could take that someone else at the VA emailed to me some year or more ago. Then, I did some more research for other jobs I could acquire skills for with relative speed and ease with little success.
At least, not until the 4th Sunday of January, just before my appointment with Michele. On the way home from our Square Dance Club meeting, I discussed with my ride her accounting job. Mandi’s a tax accountant, and I was vaguely considering this as a possible educational track. What she had to say about it disappointed me, but then she said something else which gave me a lot of excitement: they have certificates in the accounting and bookkeeping field. I didn’t have much chance to research this over the next couple of days before seeing Michele, but I had at least something else to discuss with her.
I arrived at Michele’s office well-rested an hour ahead of time, and she got me in a little early. We briefly discussed the medical-aligned careers whose course list links I’d forwarded to her, then mentioned what Mandi had said on the way home from the meeting. Michele happily looked this up for me, and we found an associates degree program as well as a program for a Certificate of Proficiency in general accounting and bookkeeping.
Michele told me that she wants me through school as quickly as possible, because the older I get, the harder it’ll be for me to find work. I added that my big blank space in terms of lack of working for the past several years was another strike against me, and she verified that. She told me that she likes the Certificate of Proficiency program because it looks like it’ll be something quick—I can get the certificate within two years, even if, as I suggested may happen, I’m placed in remedial math by the community college. Michele seemed to think this sort of timeline was possible even if I took classes only part time, as it has been suggested by others in the VA who are familiar with my mental health issues, and I told her that I planned on going to school continuously from beginning to end without taking summer breaks because I find it difficult to get back into the swing of things after an extended break and I also wanted to finish the program as soon as possible—because, why not? There is absolutely no reason for me to waste time in school when I have gads of free time on my hands.
One thing I did forget to mention to her was the fact I’m very concerned about living when I’m in school. I’m fairly certain I’ll lose all my SSDI, and I’ve been warned my VA Pension will disappear to be replaced with a stipend. When I got home, I immediately emailed Michele with this concern, suggesting it may be wise for me to see if I can get transferred to VA Compensation, since I know I’m eligible for that with my 20% disability with my knees.
So, I’m to go this week to the community college and find out if they start classes for the Certificate of Proficiency more frequently than every semester, and I need to get up to the VA to see if I can be transferred to the Compensation program.