The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently accepting applications for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), which is the new program which offers GI Bill benefits to unemployed veterans. The VRAP program was created as part of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, and is a joint benefits program offered by the VA and the US Department of Labor (DoL), and the goal is to help increase the employability of veterans.
Here is what you need to know about the program benefits, eligibility, and how to apply.
Veterans Retraining Assistance Program Benefits
The VRAP program offers 12 months of Montgomery GI Bill benefits to unemployed veterans age 35-60, who no longer have other VA education benefits available to them (more eligibility criteria listed below). The benefits can be worth as much as $17,676 ($1,473 per month of qualified training).
Once eligibility criteria have been established, veterans must apply for VRAP benefits. Upon approval, veterans will be eligible to use the GI Bill benefits for a VA-approved education program that leads to an Associate’s Degree, non-college degree, or professional certification in a high-demand occupation. Upon graduation from their VRAP education program, the DoL will assist veterans with finding employment.
The goal of this program is to provide training opportunities to veterans that will allow them to quickly find work and help fill demands in high-need occupations. Some examples include various technical fields, business and finance, trucking, nursing and medical occupations, architectural and engineering, arts and entertainment, protective services and first-responders, construction, maintenance and repair, and other high-demand career fields (see official list from the VA).
To be eligible for VRAP benefits, veterans must:
- Be between age 35 and 60
- Be unemployed (as determined by the DoL)
- Have a military discharge other then dishonorable
- Be ineligible for any other VA education benefits program
- Not be receiving VA compensation for unemployability
- Not be enrolled in another federal or state job-training program
The age limits for this program are designed to give the highest return on investment to the government, as those veterans under age 35 are still likely eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, and those over age 60 will likely have less active time in the workforce.
another frequent question regarding eligibility is the VA compensation. You may be eligible if you are receiving VA disability compensation benefits, so long as you are not receiving benefits for unemployability.
How to Apply for VRAP Benefits
The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program is limited to 45,000 veterans in FY2012, and 54,000 veterans for the first half of FY2013 (October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014). The VA will accept applications now – October 1, 2013, or until they receive 99,000 applications, whichever comes first. Due to the limited number of available slots, and the limited number of accepted applications, veterans are urged to get their applications in quickly.
How to apply: You should apply online, as this is the easiest and quickest way to submit your application and have it processed. You can apply online via eBenefits (also known as VONAPP). We have instructions for how to create a VONAPP Account, and instructions for using VONAPP, so you can follow those tutorials to apply to VRAP.
You will need some additional information when applying: your direct deposit number for your bank account (routing number and bank account number) so the VA can deposit your monthly GI Bill benefit, the name and location of the school, and the qualifying high-demand occupation.