Everyday, our men and women in the armed forces make sacrifices to protect this great country. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service. We also have an obligation that when they return from duty and re-enter civilian life, that we as a nation, will assist them in making that transition easier.
Part of this transition is obtaining a good job – one that pays them well and keeps them safe. But for too many former service-members, finding a good job is still a challenge. For some older veterans, these challenges are even greater.
Last year, President Obama signed the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. Included in this critical legislation is a new initiative for older veterans who are not eligible for other Veterans Administration education benefit programs, called the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP).
Today, the Department of Labor and the Veterans Administration is proud to launch VRAP to help get unemployed veterans back to work. This program offers 12 months of training assistance to veterans who are 35 to 60 years old, unemployed and not eligible for other VA educational benefits. The VA will provide $1,473 per month in financial support for eligible veterans and DOL will offer employment assistance to every veteran who participates or applies to VRAP. If they put in the effort, we vow to help.
Under this program, eligible veterans will receive benefits to cover the costs of education and training courses offered by community colleges or technical schools, which lead to an associate degree or certificate in high-demand occupations like healthcare, technology and other fields. Veterans will receive assistance at any one of the nearly 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers across the county, which are administered by DOL’s Employment and Training Administration.
Today’s announcement with the Department of Labor and the Veterans Administration is a great example of interagency collaboration. Together, we will prepare nearly 100,000 veterans for jobs in high demand industries. That’s a great start – but our work will continue until every veteran that is looking for a job can find one.
Junior Ortiz is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Veterans’ Employment and Training.