Help VA Spread the Word about VRAP Benefits

Are you an unemployed Veteran age 35 to 60?  Do you know someone who is?  We need your help spreading the word about a new education benefit program that can help those Vets secure meaningful employment in a high demand occupation.  It’s called the Veterans Retraining and Assistance Program (VRAP).

Here’s how it works:

VRAP is a provision under the Veteran Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.  It allows qualified Veterans to receive up to 12-months of education assistance equal to the full-time Montgomery GI Bill at the Active Duty rate, which is currently $1,473 per month.  The money is paid to the Veteran, who in turn pays the school for tuition, fees and books.

To be qualified, you must:

  • Be 35-60 years old, unemployed on the day of application, and not dishonorably discharged;
  • Start education or training after July 1, 2012, in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school leading to an associate degree, non-college degree or a certificate for a high-demand occupation as defined by the Department of Labor;
  • Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g. Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, 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% rate due to individual unemployability (IU).

VA can approve up to 45,000 Veterans for VRAP through the end of September 2012. We can approve another 54,000 Veterans Oct. 1, 2012 to Sep. 30, 2013.

Since rolling VRAP out on May 15, we’ve received more than 12,000 applications, which is great, but we need to keep up the momentum. We’re asking the Veteran community out there, especially you folks who read and participate in this blog, to help us get the word out on the VRAP.

We’ll be at the National Veterans Small Business Conference in Detroit, June 26-28, to sign-up VRAP-qualified Veterans.  We’ll also have VRAP information at Hiring Our Heroes job fairs being sponsor around the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on VOW, VRAP, high demand occupations, and how to apply, go here, or call the VA National Call Center at 1-800-827-1000. Veterans may also access the VRAP through eBenefits.

Curtis Coy is VA’s Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Opportunity and a U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force Veteran.