One of Ronald Reagan’s most famous quips was “the most feared words in the English language are ‘we’re from the government and we’re here to help.’”
Well, if you were from the government and wore a uniform, and you’re unemployed and meet certain other criteria, the government would like to help you once again: Beginning on July 1, the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) commences, helping certain veterans who have been having a hard time finding gainful employment back into the work force.
Veterans Retraining Assistance Program
The VRAP program will provide up to $1,473 per month – an amount equal to the full-time education benefit for the Post 9/11 GI Bill – to qualified veterans who enter a 1 year vocational program in certain high-demand occupations.
The program is a new one, designed to match up the large numbers of unemployed veterans with hiring managers across the country who themselves frequently have trouble finding mature, qualified applicants. The program itself comes from the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.
This one’s not for the spring chickens. To qualify, you need to be at least 30 years old, but below age 60. You must also be unemployed, and have received an other than dishonorable discharge. You must also not be enrolled in any other state or federal job assistance program.
Also, you cannot be receiving VA compensation due to unemployability, and you cannot be qualified for other VA educational benefits, or you must have exhausted them. These benefits include the Montgomery GI Bill, Post 9/11 GI Bill, or the Vocational Rehab and Employment Assistance Program.
Further, you must agree to enroll in a program leading to a job in one of 210 occupations in a high-demand field, as specified by the U.S. Department of Labor.
All programs must lead to a VA-approved associates’ degree, non-college degree or professional certification in one of the above fields, and you must enroll at an accredited vocational or technical school
You can apply beginning in May 15, 2012.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the program is limited to 45,000 participants from July 1, 2012, through September 30, 2012, and to 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014.
The program starts on 1 July 2012. The VRAP will begin paying benefits at the end of July. Benefits are paid directly to you, not to the school. You are responsible for paying tuition, fees, supplies, and books at the school. The government pays nothing on your behalf – the entire benefit is a cash payment to you.
You must, however, provide the VA with your bank account number and routing number, as benefits are deposited directly into your account. Upon completion, the VA states they will provide job placement assistance for you. They’re from the government, after all, and they’re here to help.
The VA is still working on an online application process. A VA spokesperson could not be reached at press time for comment. For more information, contact your local VA vet center, or call 1-800-827-1000.