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VA launches next round of retraining program

WASHINGTON – Veterans Affairs officials announced last week that they filled all 45,000 slots for the fiscal 2012 phase of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, and are now opening applications for the 54,000 openings available for next fiscal year.

The program, created by Congress late last year, awards unemployed veterans one year of GI Bill benefits to learn new, high-demand skills. Lawmakers designed the program to be a safety net mainly for mid-career veterans who find themselves in financial trouble, but do not have military education benefits to fall back on like their younger peers.

VRAP covers the cost of schooling and pays about $1,500 a month in a housing stipend. The first 45,000 openings were filled in only five months, so VA officials are optimistic the second phase of the program will also spark interest among veterans.

To be eligible for the program, veterans must be between 35 and 60 years old, be unemployed, not be 100 percent disabled or have been dishonorably discharged, and not eligible for other VA education benefits.

For more information, visit the department’s program site at www.benefits.va.gov/VOW.

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