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Veterans Retraining Assistance Program

Solving the Veteran Unemployment Crisis

Far too many of America's veterans are out of work. While there are many factors that have contributed to the current veterans unemployment rate hovering around 8%, the current state of the economy is the biggest hurdle. For veterans to find long-term careers, they need the tools to be competitive in today’s job market –and for the foreseeable future.

That is why this past November the House and Senate passed – and the President signed into law – the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. The centerpiece of this legislation is the Veterans Retraining and Assistance Program (VRAP). VRAP will provide nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans, between the ages of 35-60, up to 12 months of Montgomery GI Bill benefits (currently $1,473 per month) to retrain for an in-demand job.

To Apply for VRAP, You Must Be:

  • At least 35 but no more than 60 years old
  • Unemployed on the date of application
  • Received an other than dishonorable discharge
  • Are not 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 at the 100% rate due to individual unemployability
  • Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program in the previous 6 months.

Frequently Asked Questions: VRAP Extension

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act

According to the Labor Department, there are 3.4 million job openings right now in the United States. Yet, many employers are finding that workers do not have the skills or training they need to qualify for them.

In May, there were nearly 900,000 unemployed veterans in the United States – a staggering figure. The latest Department of Labor unemployment report shows the average unemployment rate among all veterans was 7.7% and 12.1% for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Equally troubling, veterans between the ages of 35 and 64, the group with the highest financial obligations and the fewest available VA education and training options, continue to make up nearly two-thirds of all unemployed veterans. Overall, nearly one in twelve of our nation’s heroes don’t have an income that provides stability for them and their families, and don’t have work that provides them with the confidence and pride that is so critical.

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act is bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive legislation that would lower the rate of unemployment among our nation’s veterans. This bill combines provisions of Chairman Miller’s Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act – which passed the House on October 12, 2011 – (H.R. 2433; Report #112-242), and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Murray’s Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951; Report #112-36). Learn more.

Comprehensive Legislation That:

  • Expands Education & Training: To begin moving veterans out of the unemployment lines, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provides nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors, from trucking to technology. It also provides disabled veterans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits up to 1-year of additional VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits.
  • Improves the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): Too many service members don’t participate in TAP and enter civilian life without a basic understanding of how to compete in a tight job market. Therefore, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act makes TAP mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status, upgrades career counseling options and job hunting skills, and ensures the program is tailored to individuals’ need in the 21st Century job market.
  • Facilitates Federal Employment: Getting a federal civil service job can often take months which often forces a veteran to seek unemployment benefits. To shorten the time to start a federal job after discharge, the VOW Act allows service members to begin the federal employment process by acquiring veterans preference status prior to separation. This facilitates a more seamless transition to civil service jobs at VA, or the many other federal agencies that would benefit from hiring our veterans.
  • Translates Military Skills and Training: This bill also requires the Department of Labor to take a hard look at how to translate military skills and training to civilian sector jobs, and will work to make it easier to get the licenses and certification our veterans need.
  • Offers Veterans Tax Credits: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides tax credits for hiring veterans and disabled veterans who are out of work.

More About VRAP

In conjunction with, the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs held an online to chat to answer questions about VRAP. Cllck on the link below to learn more about VRAP and how you can apply.


Joint Press Release by Chairman Miller and Chairman Murray

Related Links

The Veterans Employment Summit of 2011

The VOW to Hire Heroes Act Bill Text

The Veterans Opportunity to Work Act Video