The Veterans Affairs Department has approved applications for all 45,000 slots available in fiscal 2012 under the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program and is in the process of approving applications for 54,000 slots available in fiscal 2013, VA officials announced Sept. 20.
“The surge of veterans applying for VRAP demonstrates this program’s importance to provide unemployed veterans the opportunity to find employment in high-demand fields,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said.
VRAP is a new training and education program for unemployed veterans who want to upgrade their skills for high-demand jobs. The goal, officials said, is to train 99,000 Veterans over the next two years in more than 200 job skills that the Labor Department has determined are the most sought-after by employers.
The program allows qualifying veterans to receive up to 12 months of education assistance equal to the current full-time Montgomery GI Bill active duty rate of $1,473 per month. Starting Oct. 1, the monthly rate will increase to $1,546.
To be eligible for VRAP, a veteran must:
- Be 35 to 60 years old, unemployed on the day of application, and not dishonorably discharged;
- Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program such as the 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; and
- Not receive VA compensation at the 100 percent rate due to individual unemployability.
“We’re gratified that 45,000 unemployed veterans can begin the retraining they need to compete for in-demand jobs,” said Allison A. Hickey, VA’s undersecretary for benefits. “We’re going to maintain the momentum of our outreach to make sure we get the maximum of 54,000 veterans retrained in fiscal year 2013.”
Officials said veterans approved for VRAP are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible and begin training full-time in a VA-approved program of study at their local community college or technical school. The program of study must lead to an associate degree, a noncollege degree or a certificate for a high-demand occupation as defined by the Labor Department.
High-demand job training programs veterans pursued in fiscal 2012 include computer support specialist, general and operations manager, business operations specialist, and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installer, officials said.
Hickey noted that continued outreach on VRAP is particularly important, because the program applies to a segment of the veteran population that may not have regular interaction with VA or stay informed about the benefits and opportunities for which they may qualify.