June 15, 2012

Detroit to host veterans’ assistance events

Detroit’s Cobo Center will host three major U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-sponsored events from June 26-29.

The VA for Vets Hiring Fair, the Veteran Open House, and the National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo are expected to attract thousands of job-seeking veterans, business owners and federal employees.

Detroit’s VA for Vets Hiring Fair is free and will feature some 22,000 federal and private-sector job openings located across the country, VA officials said.

Not only will the fair provide veterans an opportunity to showcase their skills to potential employers, it also will assist veterans with resume preparation, interview techniques and career coaching.

The Open House will provide veterans and their families information about the wide range of financial and health-care benefits, services and resources that are available from federal, state and community agencies. Veterans can also enroll in VA care, and get answers to questions.

The National Veterans Small Business Conference and Expo is the premier government event for veteran-owned businesses. VA will provide veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses with a wide range of information to help them maximize opportunities in the federal workplace.

VA hosted its first veterans hiring fair here on Jan. 18, attracting more than 4,100 veterans and resulting in more than 2,600 on-the-spot interviews as well as more than 500 tentative job offers, VA officials said.

“If you had the skills and you went through the interview process, you could be hired right there on the spot,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki told American Forces Press Service about the Washington event. “We had a number of folks who went home that night employed, which I think is a terrific signal … that the opportunities are real and the jobs are available.”

In Detroit, the VA will also encourage qualified veterans to apply for its Veterans Retraining Assistance Program. Under VRAP, veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 who also meet other criteria can receive up to 12 months of education assistance. Maximum payments are equal to the full-time rate for the Montgomery GI Bill, which for service members is $1,473 monthly, VA officials said.

Under VRAP, veterans apply on a first-come, first-served basis for programs that begin on or after July 1. The VA began accepting applications May 15. The agency can approve 45,000 veterans through Sept. 30 and up to 54,000 veterans can participate during the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The program runs through March 2014.

“VA is committed to supporting veterans as they seek employment,” said VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “VRAP is a great program to give qualified veterans the opportunity to find meaningful employment in a high-demand field.” At the Open House in Detroit, VA representatives will give VRAP presentations several times.

In Detroit, VA also will bring together partners like the “Joining Forces” initiative started last year by first lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden. “Joining Forces” was created to spark action among all Americans to honor, recognize and support U.S. service men and women, veterans and military families.

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