VRAP: Helping Unemployed Veterans Join the Workforce

KRA Corporation feels that our Veterans are an important—and often unspoken—priority in public workforce policy today and second only to youth employment programming. Therefore we applaud the efforts of those agencies involved with the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP).

A joint program between the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the VRAP helps qualifying veterans receive crucial financial assistance for up to 12 months (payments equal the monthly full-time payment Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty) so that they can pursue a degree or certificate for employment in high-demand occupations (as determined by the DOL).

The VRAP has addressed a real area of concern in the Veteran workforce by stipulating that to qualify unemployed veterans must be between 35-60 years old—a demographic that accounts for roughly two-thirds of unemployed Veterans.

The program has some stringent parameters. Applicants cannot be the recipients of VA unemployability compensation, be eligible for benefits from other VA education programs, or enrolled in a Federal or state job-training program. Applicants must also be unemployed at the time of application (although can subsequently gain employment without becoming ineligible).   

Additionally, assistance is dependent on a participant attending a VA-approved program of education in a 2-year technical school and/or community college that leads to a degree, non-college degree, or a certification. (The VA has compiled a list of frequently asked questions for VRAP.)

In an effort to provide all those involved in the VRAP every opportunity to join the workforce, the DOL is also offering employment assistance to all participants when they complete the program.  

As an advocate of service-oriented, targeted education, and a national leader in workforce development, KRA Corporation feels that the VRAP is a vital step in identifying and addressing a traditionally underserved segment of the unemployed community.     

The VRAP aims at enrolling 45,000 participants (those who are enrolled in or completed the program) between July 1, 2012 and September 30, 2012, then another 54,000 from October 1, 2012 through March 31, 2014.

As it stands, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs site reports that the program currently has 49,149 enrolled in training programs aimed at finding participants placement or careers in high-demand fields. The VRAP has also received a little less than 120,000 applications, and has issued Certificates of Eligibility to more than 103,000 applicants.

In a recent development, Chairman Jeff Miller (FL-01) introduced a bill—H.R. 562, the VRAP Extension Act of 2013—that looks to extend the VRAP deadline until June 30, 2014 in an attempt to help those already in programs to complete them.

KRA Corporation commends this initiative, and as ever, remains dedicated to developing workers, especially those as deserving as our Veterans; strengthening the communities in which we live; preparing job seekers for tomorrow’s global economy; and supplying employers with a trained and reliable workforce. We welcome all portions of the population that are seeking employment, and applaud the efforts of agencies whose initiatives are designed to do the same.