The economic slump has found many veterans unemployed, of all ages and eras.

Recently, Congress passed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which was then signed into law by the President of the United States. One of the most beneficial parts of this Act for the unemployed veterans is the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP). This is a joint program between the Department of Labor and the Department of Veteran Affairs who plan to have it ready for implementation by July 1, 2012. The main goal of VRAP is a noble one; to provide retraining for veterans hardest hit by current economic conditions.

In order to qualify for this program, a veteran must meet the following criteria:

• Be between the ages of 35 and 60
• Be unemployed, with special consideration given to Veterans who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks
• Have an other than dishonorable discharge
• Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance
• Not be in receipt of compensation due to unemployability
• Not be enrolled in a federal or state job training program

Participants must be enrolled in a VA approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certification, and train the Veteran for a high demand occupation.

There are some other important items worth mentioning:

Those interested in Applications for the VRAP will be through the Department of the Labor, and the financial distribution will occur through the Department of Veterans Affairs, as opposed to being handled by the VA alone.

The program offers 12 months of training assistance to unemployed veterans, but is limited to 45,000 participants during fiscal year 2012, and then to 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. T

he best part about the VRAP is that participants may receive up to 12 months of retraining assistance at the full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty program. The total for this monthly rate is currently $1,473 per month, though COLA adjustments may show change this amount.

If you’d like to find the most current information about the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, the best location is the VA GI Bill website.

Stephen Fricano
National Service Officer

Further Reading: Employment Helps Disabled Veterans Regain Their Independence