Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP)

We heard about several new initiatives at DoD's Education Symposium this summer where Federal agencies were planning to combine resources and address the veteran unemployment problem.

One of the first initiatives released is a joint effort between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor. They have worked together to create a new program called the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), which is granted under the Veteran Opportunity to Work (VOW) to the Hire Hero's Act of 2011.

Below is an excerpt from The Deming Headlight and reporter Leeanna M. Rossi which details the program.

Get the most from Veteran Retraining Assistance By Leeanna M. Rossi

Are you an unemployed veteran? Have you used up all of your VA educational benefits or have they expired? Do you think that you're just too old to qualify for additional education benefits? This may not be your situation but do you know someone who is in this predicament?

Then, there is a new VA educational benefit that may help you or your friend improve their future prospects.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor worked together to create this new program. It's called the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), which is granted under the Veteran Opportunity to Work (VOW) to the Hire Hero's Act of 2011. The qualifications are rather simple. You:
- must be a veteran between the ages of 35 and 60 years old;
- must be unemployed when the VRAP application is filed;
- may not have received a dishonorable discharge;
- must not be eligible for any other VA education benefits;
- not have been in any other state or federal job training program within the last 6 months;
- must not be in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployment or received VA disability compensation at the 100% rate.

The VRAP is designed to train veterans for high demand occupations which will ultimately lead to meaningful employment. Those who are approved can receive up to 12 months of educational assistance which is equal the active duty rate of $1,473.00 per month. This benefit is paid to the veteran directly who will in turn pay the educational institution for all tuition, books and additional fees.

The VRAP began accepting applications in May of 2012 and will continue to receive funding and applicants thru 2013. The number of applications who may be accepted should apply during the next fiscal year. The VA is authorized to accept up to 54,000 qualified veterans between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013.

There are several ways to gather more information or to apply for the VRAP. If you have an e-benefits account, you can submit your application on-line to the VA. You may also contact the VA using their website:
Finally, you may call the VA at 800-877-1000. Additionally, the Veteran Opportunity Workforce (VOW) website,, has a wealth of information on the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, including details about tax credits for employers, vocational rehabilitation services, transition assistance programs and Department of Labor resources.

Since one of the qualifications is to seek a "high demand occupation" what occupations qualify? The home page of the VA's VOW site currently lists approximately 211 high demand occupations. Some of the occupations listed include employment in the fields of management, business finance, design, entertainment, protective services, construction and transportation. This means that just about every career field has some occupation that qualifies.

So, do all who apply become accepted? No, actually the majority of the applications which are denied (70 percent) are based on the veteran still being eligible for other VA educational programs. A minority of those whose applications are denied (5 percent) are because they are either already receiving vocational rehabilitation benefits or they did not receive an honorable discharge.

If the only thing holding you back is the fact that you are unemployed, have too little money and have no VA educational benefits remaining, then this is the program for you. So if you qualify, consider checking out the VA's website and apply for these benefits.

Leeanna M. Rossi is US Navy veteran and member of American Legion Post 4 and Amvets Post 30 in Deming.