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VA Offers New Training Program for Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs is now accepting applications for the Veteran's Retraining Assistance Program.

The Veteran's Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) is an extension of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act signed into law by the president in 2011. VRAP offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans, according to a recent press release sent out by the VA.

The program will take effect on July 1, and the VA is currently accepting applications.

"Veterans have to be 'on their game' to compete for jobs in a challenging economy," said Curtis Coy, VA Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity, via e-mail. "Sometimes, the additional up to 12 months of education or training VRAP will make possible may be the extra step up they need to find meaningful employment in a high demand occupation."

In order to be eligible for VRAP, veterans between 35 and 60 years old must be unemployed and not have received a dishonorable discharge, as well as be willing to train for a career in a high demand occupation, according to the VA's website.

The VA considers high demand occupations to be those jobs like electricians, technicians, accountants, and telecommunications experts that are always needed. A full list of the occupations considered to be in high demand by the VA is available on their website.

In addition, veterans cannot be eligible for any other VA education benefit program like the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance.

Veterans also must not be in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability and cannot be enrolled in a federal or state job training program.

If accepted, veterans will receive up to 12 months of financial assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery Gi Bill program, which is currently $1,473, according to the VA website.

Once enrolled, participants must be pursuing either an associate degree, non-college degree, or a certificate from a VA approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school.

Additionally, the Department of Labor will offer employment assistance to veterans enrolled in VRAP.

"Those who have served their country in uniform already have proven themselves in a mission-driven environment -- they appreciate teamwork, they have demonstrated leadership skills and have applied their abilities in a diverse workplace," said Coy in the e-mail. "

He added in the e-mail that for those eligible veterans who "need to sharpen their skills or broaden their academic record, the Veteran Retraining Assistance Program may give them the boost they need."

Veterans interested in applying should know the program is limited to 45,000 participants from July to September and 54,000 participants from October to March 2014.

For more information or to apply for VRAP, visit benefits.va.gov/vow or call 1-800-827-1000.

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