Navy veteran Timothy Thompson was ready for a change. He had experience as an electronics technician in a submarine and with a private company, but after a job layoff, Thompson decided advanced education would improve his prospects of “getting a much better job.”
Thompson enrolled in courses through the National College Campus Support System. With financial help from the Veteran Retraining Assistance Program, or VRAP, he plans to graduate in 2014 with a degree in information systems engineering.
VRAP, established under the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, pays for up to 12 months of retraining assistance in “high demand” occupations for unemployed eligible veterans between the ages of 35 and 60.
For men and women in the armed forces, transitioning into the civilian workforce presents unique challenges. That’s why the Department of Veterans Affairs, in cooperation with the Department of Labor is helping thousands of veterans pursue the training they need to compete for good jobs through VRAP.
This month, VRAP reached its first milestone by approving 45,000 applications for Fiscal Year 2012. That means 45,000 veterans will receive financial assistance to train for high-demand jobs.
While 45,000 is a nice round number, we can’t forget what it represents: 45,000 individuals with a unique story just like Thompson. Or like Coast Guard veteran Darin Weldon, who lost his job with a major Internet company after a corporate reorganization. By enrolling in the VRAP program at Clark College in Washington, Weldon was able to retrain in accounting. He is now following a new career path with more opportunity for management promotion.
We’ve passed an exciting milestone for the VRAP program, but the VA and DOL have an even bigger number in sight: VRAP continues to accept applications, with the ultimate goal of retraining 99,000 veterans for high demand jobs by the end of FY 2013.
Learn more about VOW, high-demand occupations and applying for VRAP at http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW.
Learn more about the Department of Labor’s veterans programs by visiting http://www.dol.gov/vets.
The author, John K. Moran is Deputy Assistant Secretary, Veterans’ Employment and Training Service.