Help VA Spread the Word about VRAP Benefits

Are you an unemployed Veteran age 35 to 60?  Do you know someone who is?  We need your help spreading the word about a new education benefit program that can help those Vets secure meaningful employment in a high demand occupation.  It’s called the Veterans Retraining and Assistance Program (VRAP).

Here’s how it works:

VRAP is a provision under the Veteran Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.  It allows qualified Veterans to receive up to 12-months of education assistance equal to the full-time Montgomery GI Bill at the Active Duty rate, which is currently $1,473 per month.  The money is paid to the Veteran, who in turn pays the school for tuition, fees and books.

To be qualified, you must:

  • Be 35-60 years old, unemployed on the day of application, and not dishonorably discharged;
  • Start education or training after July 1, 2012, in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school leading to an associate degree, non-college degree or a certificate for a high-demand occupation as defined by the Department of Labor;
  • Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g. Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment);
  • Not be enrolled in a federal or state job training program within the last 180 days;
  • Not receive VA compensation at the 100% rate due to individual unemployability (IU).

VA can approve up to 45,000 Veterans for VRAP through the end of September 2012. We can approve another 54,000 Veterans Oct. 1, 2012 to Sep. 30, 2013.

Since rolling VRAP out on May 15, we’ve received more than 12,000 applications, which is great, but we need to keep up the momentum. We’re asking the Veteran community out there, especially you folks who read and participate in this blog, to help us get the word out on the VRAP.

We’ll be at the National Veterans Small Business Conference in Detroit, June 26-28, to sign-up VRAP-qualified Veterans.  We’ll also have VRAP information at Hiring Our Heroes job fairs being sponsor around the country by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on VOW, VRAP, high demand occupations, and how to apply, go here, or call the VA National Call Center at 1-800-827-1000. Veterans may also access the VRAP through eBenefits.

Curtis Coy is VA’s Deputy Undersecretary for Economic Opportunity and a U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force Veteran.

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42 Comments to “Help VA Spread the Word about VRAP Benefits”

  1. Robert Bullwinkle says:

    I have applied for VRAP on day one. I was wondering how one would be able to check and see the status of my application?

  2. Cathy Cross says:

    I received my letter acknosledging my app, which was put in on the first day applicatinos were opened, yet the letter says you are still trying to determine if anything else is needed and my claim may be delayed. If you are going to acknowledge receipt of my app, then discourage with words that cover your slow processing of claims – then why bother to begin with? You know I served, you know I am eligible, YOU ARE THE VA! Let’s do this!

    • Fred Rendon Jr says:

      Anytime the VA decides to do something to help veterans they make it so hard and discouraging that it will not work. Go to the VA employment site and fill out an application. It will take a minium of four hours and if you do not qualify you have to start the whole process all over again. This is all nonsense.

      • T. Miller II says:

        Yep.

      • Bill Porupsky says:

        Ditto!! I’m a Homeless Chairman of a Viet-Nam Vets group and can’t get my own son who is homeless in my basement into the VA He has two Honorable and one OTH and it seems that his record has to be reviewed and they say it could take years

    • Luis says:

      I got the same letter. What its really FUNNY is that the VA included a benefit list of all the Chapters (31, 33, 35, etc) I could apply for on the mean time which IF I WAS ELIGIBLE FOR THOSE BENEFITS I WOULD NOT HAD APPLY FOR VRAP IN THE FIRST PLACE. I guess the VA is seeking to entice veterans to apply for these benefit Chapters with the intention to disqualify a veteran that had initially met all the requirements for the VRAP.

      Luis

  3. Cathy Cross says:

    ..and I really can spell, but it sure doesn’t look that way. My apologies for the typos.

  4. Hermann Heraux says:

    Hello!
    This is good news because I want to get training after close to 5 years of homelessness. I am receiving a compensation/ pension at a 80% rate due to determined unemployability and other reasons. Do I qualify and if yes could I start training in July?

    • Alex Horton says:

      Hey Hermann, if you meet the qualifications listed in the post, apply online through eBenefits.

    • Kevin Baltzley says:

      Hi Hermann,

      If you are already determined to be unemployable by the VA and are receiving benefits, then the answer is NO. Sorry my friend, but I read through the summation several times myself before applying, and it states right there that if you are in an unemployable status then you would not qualify.

      Here is their qualification criteria for you to look at. You mentioned pension, if you are receiving a VA pension ONLY, and they are not paying you for unemployable reasons, then yes, you would qualify. It does not matter why you are getting the pension, so long as you are not unemployable in their eyes.

      The VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to Veterans who:

      Are at least 35 but no more than 60 years old
      Are unemployed on the date of application
      Received an other than dishonorable discharge
      Are not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g.: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance)
      Are not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability
      Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program

      Sgm. Kevin

    • retteL says:

      According to research this program is only for veterans who has a honorable discharge and those that are NOT eligible for vocational rehab, GI bills, and the Post 911 GI bill to name a few. If you are receiving 80% you should be eligible for vocational rehabilitation depending on your disabilities and your ability to obtain and maintain work. It is hoped that you are not drawing individual unemployability as this will also placed you in another category. I would do more research and also speak with a qualified competent veteran service officer to get more. I mean a face-to-face conversation. You may also speak with your local veteran employment representative as they are supposed to be the “go to person” for this benefit.

  5. is their away to track your application on line?

  6. JOE ALAG says:

    SIR/MADAM. I HAVE PTSD,BACK INJURY,HEARING LOOSE AND I DON’T WORK ANY MORE BECAUSE OF THIS IT’S HARD FOR ME TO GO BACK TO WORK.IS THIS WELL HELP ME OR WHAT SHOULD I DO. BECAUSE I HAVE FAMILY TO SUPPORT AND BILL TO PAY,WHAT STEP NEXT SHOULD I TAKE?THANK YOU

    • Barb says:

      Hi, Joe,

      I’d like to suggest you go to your local Workforce Center and ask to speak to a vet rep, like me. We can guide you in your job search and refer you to many supportive services you may not know about. As far as VRAP, the whole point is to retrain vets to become more employable. You might be able , after a little research, to find a field where your disabilities would not hinder you. Training in that field may very well be available through VRAP. If you cannot work, maybe it’s time to file for an increase in VA disability, if you’re not already 100%. Either way, please go see your local vet rep for assistance. Hang in there.

    • Kelly Robinson says:

      May I also suggest that you apply for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment. This program is all about getting disabled veterans employed.

  7. A. Vet says:

    Also filed on the first day, May 15, and I got the same letter as Cathy Cross, “We are trying to decide if we need more info, your claim may be delayed, don’t contact us”. Can’t tell what the problem is, or if there even is one! Definitely a useless CYA coomunication from the VA.

  8. Terry says:

    They are telling me I DO NOT EXSIT AT THE VA<I DO EXSIT AND I AM ALIVE WHAT A FREAKING MESS

  9. Angry Employee says:

    This guy curtis coy is a buffoon and there is no way he wrote any of this info on his own. he has no idea about anything to do with education and must have a platoon of peons writing everything for him since he is clueless about it. you should hear him speak, total idiot!

  10. BROOKLYNBILT says:

    I am being kept from benefits, yet they all state “not dishonarably discharged”. I have an “other than Honorable discharge on my last enlistment of two four year stints, served in the Persian Gulf, and during the Panama Invasion, yet I have been denied these benefits. I was a paratrooper with over 100 jumps, back problems and diagnosed with PTSD, yet i am still being denied benefits. Can anyone suggest a better way to approach trying to recieve something from VA, thanks.

    • exsquid says:

      I also have an OTH from my second enlistment and an honorable from my first but the VA has given me some medical benefits, physical checkup, prescriptions, counseling, etc. Are you getting any of these at all?

    • retteL says:

      Yes, have you tried getting your discharge upgraded from your last enlistment. If so, what strategy did you used? Did you get references, write a personal letter, retrieve your personal records from the National Personnel Record Center peteraining to your discharge, and researched other cases much like yours to see if they were given immunity/an upgraded discharge. It is possible to have this upgraded particularly if you have contributed back to society [i.e. got an education perhaps, community service work, family man, mentor, long-standing employment,etc] In others words, how have you change your life since getting the other than honorable? In addition, other than honorable is just that ” it is not a general under honorable conditions. Unfortunately VA health care only give benefits to honorably discharge veteran. However, there are circumstances that will entitled you to benefits. Your health conditions, were they caused by the service and are they DOCUMENTED in your medical treatment records. Is your discharge due to some type of mental illness or physical condition. If not, is there anyone who could vouch for your health care existence[on your behalf they know your injuries or illness is a result from service] You can apply and appeal such services. Please speak with a qualified and competent veteran service officer who is willing to go the limited with you [ride the roller coaster with you]. It is possible, it just take more work on your behalf. So do not give up the fight, particularly if you are not getting health care right now.

  11. Steve says:

    Applied on day 1 and have not heard back from anyone. Find it frustrating that there is no way to determine the status. Wonder is anyone knows whether or not this program will make me ineligible for unemployment payments?

  12. Chris Hall says:

    I just put my application in and I spoke with someone at the call center and she told me that I should hear something within two weeks. From reading all of the other comments I gather it will be the standard letter VA sends out to cover themselves. I sure hope that this will not take as long as my claim for PTSD and other things, still waiting on that and it has been 10 months since I provided the last piece of information that they requested from me. I was excited to read about this because I have been hoping for something of this nature to come out from the VA, I guess my hopes are still up but in a guarded fashion. I pray this works out for all of us and I thank you all for your service!!!! Go Navy!!!!!

  13. Chris Hall says:

    I forgot to ask, where can I find a listing of these so called “high demand” jobs? Please help!!!

  14. kevin clemon says:

    Hey vets this really does work!!!!! I received my letter 2 week ago, and I’ve taking my placement test for the school I going to attend . I’m going to need more math skills before enrolling in the fall, and more reading skills also. I’m a 41 years of age, and this was the best thing ging for me ,because I really want to go back to school. It took me about 2 weeks before my letter came back saying I was qualified. so my advice to you guys is to let other vets know that they finally came through for us.

  15. Raffy says:

    I am one of the fortunate to be approved. Can I qualify for VA Student Work Study Program while under VRAP?

    • retteL says:

      Will you be getting paid for work study? Work study is a Federal program that gives you monetary compensation if you are attending post secondary institutions.

  16. michael roberson says:

    the time of applying for vrap some of us at vvsd vrc listed a school and might have a change of heart, for that school is it possible to change schools and fields.will taking re-freshercourse , delay any benefits.

  17. K Wilson says:

    I work at a VA Hospital and this is the first I’ve even heard of this . Info not getting put out , not everyone has internet access , use local news , newspapers , fliers , something so the vets will know about the program . The good ol va system lol .

    • retteL says:

      This should have hit all the major newspapers both city, local and states. It is unfortunate that the information does not get out the way it should, particularly when something like this is detrimental and important to getting veterans trained and back to work. Since you work at the VA, try dropping in at the patient resource and information center, library, and if your hospital have a chapter like the DAV, American Legion or VFW these offices should have the information you need regardless of whether you have access to the internet or other technological benefits. They should be able to supply you with what’s new at VA. this also should be posted on their bullentin boards. Hope this helps! If you are a member of any chapter or charter [vfw, aml, dav or vietnow or an auxiliary] you should get this information in the newsletter. Sign up if you can to be a member of one of these organization, right now the american legion membership is $32.00 a year with a tax write off if that helps.

  18. Kevin Baltzley says:

    Come on VA. I was one of the FIRST to fill out the application at midnight on the 14th of May. Its now the 8th of June and I still don;t have an answer??? I called the national number 7 times, out of the 7 calls, 5 of the veteran service officers did not have to foggiest idea of what I was talking about??? Poor planning or training on the VA’s part once again.

    I was told yesterday that there is such a back-log of applications that there is no telling when I would receive an answer on my application. All I do know is that its in Atlanta, and there are some 12000 news ones now and the VA wants more? I hope all Vet’s go for this program who qualify, but at the same time its disheartening to have been one of the first to send it in, only to hurry up and wait. Others have sent theirs in much later and already have a response, again, I question this as mine was one of the first to go in.

    Any thoughts guys/gals? Does anyone have a direct number associated with this program to find out where in the line my application is?

    Thanks in advance,

    Kevin

    • Raffy says:

      Hi Kevin.

      I filed an application at 12AM on May 15th. And got the approval letter three weeks later. Filing on the 14th of May may have caused some delay. May I suggest that you might have to file an application again? I wish you luck on your future.

      Fellow veteran.

      Raffy

  19. timothy bartlett says:

    if this program is being run by the V.A. the same way the disability program is being run you will all be dead before you recieve any type of verification .i have been fighting with the V.A. since 1990 .i have had numerous surgeries on my knees, suffer from back and hip problems , hearing loss etc. i get twenty percent disability and got a letter from the V.A. telling me they are going to take it away!!!!!!! face it the governmant and their agencies did not care for us while we served and they sure as hell don’t care know ….it’s just more smoke and mirrors. i’m now living on the streets , but hey who cares …sure as hell not the government. beware the V.A. and their programs to help vets

    • retteL says:

      There is an obvious reason that the VA want to take your benefits away? Have you visited a qualified and competent Veteran Service Officer (VSO) who know how to fight these types of situations? If not, I would suggest you get to one right away and as far as you being homeless have you tried to get benefits with VA HUDVASH? Again, your VSO should be able to assist you with this as well or you could get a counselor within the health care system that can and will steer you in the right direction. It is so unfortunate that you are homeless…it should not be. This is not a road less traveled with the VA, it is the the forks in the road that are chaotic. But even these can be fixed.

  20. sara says:

    I received a message from VA saying that you can Request Advance Payment for this program, if your school will process it, but I cant get my school to process Request. This is Just for FYI.

    • retteL says:

      Do you really want an advance payment from this program?

      Recall, the advance payment situations when the post 911/GI bill came into affect. There were many veterans who obtain an advance payment only to be caught up later on the wrong roller coaster. It was a total nightmare for some. I would do my research first and if you can wait until the program is in full effect and receive your monies that way…I would suggest you do so. I have had to fixed many of these situations [advance payment] for veterans or at least get answers as to why- VA will take the payment back from you and it can become more of a nightmare for you. If you can wait for payment, please do so. If not, please research ALL avenues prior to accepting advance payments. They [VA] are still working on the hurdles on this program.

  21. wynn says:

    I have applied for VRAP 26 days ago, I got the same letter as others stating we’ve received your application, but no determination yet. I was unemployed when I applied, and still am. My question is what if I get a temporary job between now and when my school begins. Once school starts, can I work at all and still receive VRAP benefits? The VRAP wont cover the total cost of my nursing program, can I still get financial aid too?

  22. Jim Harvey says:

    If you really want to stretch this out and get 54,000 more applicants, look at your age limits. I’m 61, just over the upper limit. I served in 1969-1972, right a the MIDPOINT of Viet Nam. How about including more of the Nam Vets?

  23. Kate Hoit says:

    Here’s a link to the VRAP site: http://benefits.va.gov/vow/education.htm

    You’ll find more information about the program and how to apply.