It is a very simple process now. If you have a VA rating, go on ebenefits and apply for Voc Rehab. They get back to you fairly quickly. It is best (in my opinion) to already be accepted to a PA program prior to sitting down with the Voc Rehab counselor. They will establish a need for the program by evaluating certain factors such as how your disability is affecting your current work and employability. After that is reviewed, the decision is pretty quick. It has been (in my experience) a pretty good VA program, and that is saying a lot. Hope that helps. PM me if you have any questions.
I am in a similar position as you, J89Mike. I'm on a pre-PA track. I work full-time as a veterinary technician and I'm trying to figure out how to get all my pre-reqs done!
So far, I've taken bio 1, microbio, chem 1, chem 2, statistics, lots of psychology courses, an english course. It seems, from programs I'm interested in, the pre-reqs I'll still need are orgo 1 OR biochem, calculus (only some), A&P1, A&P2, med terminology, an english elective, genetics, and bio 2. I was surprised that many don't require physics courses or 2 semesters of organic chem and calculus. My chem 1 and 2 were taken 11 years ago... but the websites for many of the PA programs I want to apply to state that at least 1 chem and 1 bio have to be taken within 5 years, so I should be safe! (Hopefully...) :)
I'm also currently attempting to get more experience in the human medical field (becoming certified as an EMT-B and getting a part-time job as a MA). I hope to be able to apply in a couple of years.
Good luck! Sounds like you are a great applicant!
I really think it depends on the doc you are working with. My doc and I have been together a year now and slowly starting to get to do more in the OR. Of course most of it is still retracting and closing, but with all the cuff and labrum work we do, I end up drilling and placing most of the anchors for the labrum and some of the cuffs. I've put in a few K-wires but thats it.