VA hopeful retraining program will hit 45,000 goal
Published: July 5, 2012
WASHINGTON — VA officials announced this week that applications for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program passed the 27,000 mark this week, and that roughly 13,000 of them have already been approved for the program.
They’re confident those numbers put them on pace to award all 45,000 program openings by the end of September, even with a slowdown in applications. About 12,000 of them were submitted in the first two weeks of the program in mid-May, with the rest coming in June.
The program – approved by Congress last year – is available to veterans aged 35 to 60 who need new or updated work skills to find employment. It offers a $1,473 living stipend to participants enrolled in college or technical school classes, as a way to help them make ends meet while they are retrained.
In May, lawmakers expressed concern that VA officials weren’t doing enough to reach veterans eligible for the program. In October, 54,000 more VRAP slots will be available to eligible vets, but any unfilled openings from this fiscal year will not roll over to the next.
VA officials said they’re working closely with the Departments of Labor and Defense to advertise the benefit, and they are distributing pamphlets on VRAP to veterans service organizations, chambers of commerce and military commissaries.
The approval process for the applications takes between 15 and 25 days. Officials said they expect a large percentage of the 27,000 applicants so far to receive the benefit.
The first checks through the new benefit were sent out on July 1.