Program helps Veterans go back to school

WASHINGTON D.C. -- A joint Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Labor program is helping to retrain up to 99,000 Veterans for jobs that are in high-demand.

According to a release from the VA, more than 25,000 unemployed Veterans, 35 to 60 years old, have already applied for new benefits to cover education costs for up to one year through

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki stated in the release, “Veterans realize this is a great opportunity to hone the skills they need to be competitive in the job market, and this program contributes directly to enhancing the strength of our Nation’s economy.”

The VA started accepting applications on May 15, and a maximum of 54,000 will be available for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, 2012.

“No veteran should have to fight for a job at home after fighting to protect our nation," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in the release.

As part of a provision of the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, the Veteran Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) allows qualifying Veterans to receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the full-time Montgomery GI Bill, Active Duty rate, currently $1,473 per month.

Veterans can apply now on a first-come, first-serve basis for VRAP, with nearly 20,000 slots to fill by September 30.

Assistance under this program will end on March 31, 2014.

To qualify Veterans must:
• Be 35-60 years old, unemployed on the day of application, and not dishonorably discharged;
• Start education or training after July 1, 2012, in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school leading to an associate degree, non-college degree or a certificate for a high-demand occupation as defined by DOL;
• Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program, such as Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment;
• Not be enrolled in a federal or state job-training program within the last 180 days;
• Not receive VA compensation at the 100 percent rate due to individual unemployability.

Upon completion, DOL will contact participants within 30 days after their training to help them find good jobs that use their newly learned skills.

For more information on VOW, VRAP, the definition of “high-demand occupations,” and how to apply, CLICK HERE, or call the VA’s Call Centers toll free at 1-800-827-1000.


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