Job losses due to COVID-19 have strongly affected veterans; the U.S. Department of Labor reported April’s veteran unemployment rate at 5.3 percent. To assist veterans to reemployment, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has launched Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP).
Signed into law on March 11 under the American Rescue Plan of 2021, VRRAP offers education and training to veterans who are unemployed due to COVID-19.
Education and training programs approved under the GI Bill and Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses, also known as VET TEC, include 200 associates degrees, non-college degrees and certificate programs determined by the labor department to be high-demand jobs.
Programs include opportunities in healthcare, education, media, engineering and high-tech fields. Veterans eligible for VRRAP can receive up to 12 months of tuition and fees paid by the VA directly to the school. The veteran also receives a monthly housing allowance based on Post-9/11 GI Bill rates.
Veterans not enrolled in full-time programs receive a prorated housing allowance.
To be eligible to apply, veterans must meet all the following requirements:
- Between the ages of 22 and 66, and
- Unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and
- Have an honorable or other-than-honorable discharge, and
- Not eligible for Veteran Readiness & Employment benefits, and
- Do not have any remaining GI Bill eligibility available, and
- Not rated as totally disabled and unable to work, and
- Not enrolled in any federal or state jobs programs, and
- Not already receiving unemployment benefits, including CARES Act benefits.
The goal of the program is to give veterans new skills or complete a certification program in a high demand field and expand the veteran’s employment opportunities. Veterans do not need to be enrolled in a program full-time.
Veterans who have exhausted their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits or VR&E benefits may qualify for VRRAP if they meet other eligibility criteria.
The program began accepting applications May 3 and will be available until Dec. 11, 2022 or until the program enrolls 17,250 participants or reaches its funding limit of $386 million, whichever comes first.
To apply online or for more information, including a list of participating schools, go to https://www.va.gov/education/other-va-education-benefits/veteran-rapid-retraining-assistance/ or contact the Education Call Center from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET Monday through Friday at 888-442-4551.