New Army Program Opens New Doors

All Active Duty Soldiers, including National Guard and Reserve Soldiers on extended active duty, are now eligible to enroll in the Army Vocational/Technical Soldier Program. The focus of the AVOTEC program is on occupational training, not college degrees, in high demand career fields identified by the Department of Labor. This program is not restricted to individuals leaving the Army, but may be especially beneficial for transitioning Soldiers. Additionally, the program is open to Wounded Warriors and officers. Officers who take advantage of the program will not incur additional service obligation for participation. This is not a program for veterans and interested individuals must enroll in courses prior to separating from the Army.

DART Active-duty Soldiers participating in the program must choose programs from the schools listed at AVOTEC website. In addition Soldiers must be in a non-degree program, which cannot be longer than 18 months, and all cost for instruction, certification, or license must be paid by September 30, 2009.

Congress approved $19 million for the pilot program as part of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2009. The Army will pay for the program directly to the participating schools. The GI Bill or other existing educational benefits are not used for the AVOTEC program. Soldiers enrolled in college courses are restricted to the maximum of $4,500 per fiscal year in tuition assistance. This program may be utilized in conjunction with traditional tuition assistance, as long as the total does not exceed $4,500.

For example, if a Soldier has used $1,000 for a traditional college program this year, the remaining $3,500 may be used for the AVOTEC Program.

Community Colleges, Vocational and Trade Schools from across the country have submitted and are continuing to submit programs for inclusion on the AVOTEC website. Programs of instruction last from a few class contact hours to several months. Career offerings include computer certification, health care, leisure and hospitality, event planning, food service, construction, transportation, law enforcement, financial and real estate, geriatric and child care professionals and mechanics. The program is designed to lead to a certification or license that Soldiers can use in civilian life. These means that AVOTEC programs should prepare Soldiers to take an exam for state or national license or certification. Soldiers completing AVOTEC programs that do not include the certification test can apply for those certifications through AVOTEC providing they are still on Active duty at the completion of the program.

Enrollment in this program is open through September 30, 2009 or until the funds are exhausted whichever comes first. Soldiers interested in enrolling in the program should visit the AVOTEC website and consult an education counselor as soon as possible. New schools and program offerings are added to the website weekly. Soldiers who do not find a program that meets their needs or interest, and know of an accredited community college or vocational school that has the program they are interested in, may refer the school to the AVOTEC website.

Next Step: Whether you want a second career as a chef, in construction or computers, there is a program out there for you. Don't miss this opportunity to try a career field you have always dreamed of.

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