Three years ago, the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 created the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) that has helped many unemployed veterans access educational programs. This program came at a crucial time when veteran unemployment was at 8.3%. VRAP was specifically designed to cover veterans who are not eligible to receive GI Bill educational benefits.
VRAP has helped qualified veterans who are 35 to 60 years old obtain up to 12 months of education benefits equal to the full-time Montgomery GI Bill. Since the program’s launch, it has come to support more than more than 76,000 unemployed veterans and helped our Nation honor the sacrifices they made to their country.
Under the current law, the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) authority to issue payments to VRAP participants will end March 31, 2014 – in the middle of the Veterans’ spring academic semester. Concerned that funds would be cut off before VRAP participants could complete their academic semesters, President Obama asked VA to explore all available options to ensure that eligible veterans are able to finish their Spring 2014 semester.
Today, VA has taken steps to do just that. To enable VRAP participants to complete training for their current enrollment period, VA will make payments prior to March 31, 2014, to cover training from April 1, 2014 through the conclusion of a Veteran’s current enrollment semester or term or through June 30, 2014, whichever is earlier. For more information on the VRAP program, please go to www.gibill.va.gov or call the VA GI Bill Benefits line at 1-888-442-4551.
With programs like VRAP, we are ensuring that veterans are taken care of and have opportunities to succeed in their communities.
Colonel Rich Morales is the Executive Director for Joining Forces. Curtis L. Coy is the Deputy Under Secretary of Veterans Affairs for the Office of Economic Opportunity.