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Veterans retraining assistance program announced

| September 7, 2012

The Department of Veterans Affairs has approved more than 36,000 applications for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), a new training and education program for unemployed veterans to upgrade their skills for in-demand jobs.

“The outstanding response demonstrates how important this program is in assisting veterans with an opportunity to gain employment in a high-demand field,” said Jim Barstow, Coshocton County Veterans Service Officer.

“Thus far, the response has been excellent. We’ve had several local veterans enroll in the program, and it’s likely that the allotment for Fiscal year 2012 will be filled before the Sept. 30 deadline.”

The VA has set aside 45,000 slots for 2012 and once those are filled, it will begin processing new applications to fill 54,000 slots that will be available in Fiscal Year 2013.

The goal of VRAP is to train a total of 99,000 veterans over the next two years in more than 200 job skills that the Department of Labor has determined are the most sought-after by employers.

The program, a provision of the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, which was passed by Congress and signed by the president in November 2011, is managed by VA and the Department of Labor (DOL) and allows qualifying veterans to receive up to 12 months of education assistance equal to the full-time Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty rate, currently $1,473 per month.

To be eligible for the program, a veteran must:

• Be 35-60 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 (IU).

Veterans who have been approved for VRAP are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible to start training full-time in a VA-approved program of study offered by a community college or technical school. The program of study must lead to an associate degree, non-college degree, or certificate for a high-demand occupation as defined by DOL.

Applicants approved for the 2013 phase should enroll full-time in an approved program and start training by April 2013 in order to take full advantage of this benefit before its termination on March 31, 2014.

“We urge anyone who knows an unemployed veteran to tell them about VRAP,” said Barstow.

Potential applicants can learn more about VRAP and apply online at www.benefits.va.gov/VOW, or call VA toll-free at 1-800-827-1000

To get started in the program or to find out about any other benefits that may be available, local veterans are encouraged to contact the Coshocton County Veterans Service Office at 318 Main St., Courthouse or by calling 622-2313.

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