VOW assists unemployed veterans

A new federal program designed to help in-need military veterans aged 35 to 60 get an associate degree through a two-year college is available now at Northeast State.

Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law, the Veterans Opportunity to Work VOW to Hire Heroes Act authorizing the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) which offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed veterans age 35 and over.

“This new benefit seeks to put veterans back to work,” said Pat Chandler, Veterans’ Affairs Coordinator at Northeast State.  “We want area veterans to know that they have an option if they are unemployed to come back to college and get these benefits toward earning a degree.”

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 the application; and received an other than dishonorable discharge from their branch of service. Applicants cannot be eligible for any other Veterans Affairs education benefit program such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance benefit.

The office of Veterans Affairs at Northeast State can assist vets through the new VRAP system.

Applicants can visit the eBenefits web site to complete the VRAP application. An applicant will be asked to submit his or her direct deposit information (bank routing number and account number), the name and location of their school, the academic program being pursued, and the applicable high demand occupation.

Chandler said veteran applicants must also submit an application to the College and meet all admission requirements to get enrolled.  Students can apply for admission to Northeast State at www.NortheastState.edu/apply.

Participants must be enrolled in a Veterans Affairs approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an associate degree, non-college degree, or a technical certificate, and train the veteran for a high demand occupation.  VRAP will provide training for programs of education that lead to a high demand occupation. The U.S. Department of Labor offers employment assistance to every veteran who participates upon completion of the program.

Applicants cannot receive Veterans Affairs compensation due to unemployability or be enrolled in a separate federal or state job training program.

The program is limited to 45,000 participants from July 1 through Sept. 30, and 54,000 participants from Oct. 1 through March 31, 2014. Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program.

Northeast State is the only community college in northeast Tennessee administering VRAP benefits.   The College served more than 250 students who received veterans benefits during the 2011 fall term.

“Area veterans can apply online through the eBenefits web site or through the G.I. Bill web site,” said Chandler, “We will be glad to help them with anything they need.”

To learn more visit www.NortheastState.edu or contact the office  of Veterans Affairs at 423.323.0215 or the office of Admissions and Records at 423.323.0253 or 1.800.836.7822.

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