The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved applications for all 45,000 slots available in fiscal year 2012 under the successful Veterans Retraining Assistance Program and is in the process of approving applications for a total of 54,000 slots available in FY 2013.
VRAP is a new training and education program for unemployed veterans who want to upgrade their skills for high demand jobs. The goal of VRAP is to train a total of 99,000 veterans over the next two years in more than 200 job skills that the Department of Labor has determined are most sought by employers.
The joint VA/DOL program is a provision of the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, passed and signed into law in November 2011. The program allows qualifying veterans to receive up to 12 months of education assistance equal to the current full time Montgomery G.I. Bill Active Duty rate of $1,473 per month. To be eligible for VRAP, a veteran must:
• Be 35 to 60 years old, unemployed and not dishonorably discharged.
• Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program such as the Post -9/11GI 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.
Veterans approved for VRAP are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible and begin training in a VA approved program at their local community college or technical school. The program of study must lead to an associate's degree, a non-college degree or a certificate for a high demand occupation as defined by the DOL. Some of the high demand job training programs include computer support specialist, general and operations manager, business operations specialist and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installer.
VRAP applications were received from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. VRAP also attracted veterans internationally, with applications coming from veterans living in the Philippines, Canada, Japan, the Northern Mariana Islands and areas of Europe and the Pacific, where military units are based.
Potential applicants can learn more about VRAP and apply online at 1-800-827-1000. Information about the Department of Labor’s programs for veterans is available at www.dol.gov/vets. Veterans can also visit the nearly 3,000 One-Step Career Centers across the nation, listed at www.servicelocator.org, for in person employment assistance.
Recently I was served at an out-of-state restaurant. I asked the waitress, “What is your active duty and veteran discount?” The reply was, “We don’t give those kind of discounts.” After a brief conversation with the manager, our group was given a discount. As an active duty member of our Armed Forces or a veteran, everyone should recognize your sacrifices and honor that fact by displaying their gratitude always. Don’t be afraid to ask. You deserve it!
Reach Jim Vines at firstname.lastname@example.org.