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The VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 created a little known but very useful program to retrain veterans for high demand occupations. The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) provides direct financial assistance for veterans to train or retrain in one of the Department of Labor (DOL)'s high demand occupations.

The 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 application
 •Received an other than dishonorable discharge
 •Are not be 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 due to unemployability
 •Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program
The training must lead to an Associates Degree or a Certificate within one year to be covered under the program.

What's not to like? Unemployed veterans who need training as, for example, solar panel technicians get the 21st Century skills they need that they didn't learn in the military. Employers get knowledgable, experienced workers who've already demonstrated their ability to show up every day, do what they're supposed to do, and be team players. Taxpayers teach men and women to fish rather than buying them a fish.

If there's a problem with VRAP it's that the original program was too limited. It is scheduled to come to a close March 31, 2014, and only has funding for 99,000 participants. When it was rolled out last Spring it was a little slow taking off, but as veterans and veterans advocates became more familiar with just how positive this program is, how well it works, enrollment has gradually snowballed. As of this writing 93,798 of the alloted 99,000 places have been applied for and 76,627 have already been approved. And not every eligble veteran even knows about it yet!

Enter the Senate Democratic leadership. On Tuesday

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

JANUARY 22 (legislative day, JANUARY 3), 2013

Mr. REID (for himself, Mr. SANDERS, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr.
UDALL of New Mexico, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr. BROWN, Mr. SCHATZ, Mr.
TESTER, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. WARNER, Mr. CARDIN, Ms. HIRONO, Mr.
BEGICH, Mr. CASEY, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. NELSON, Mr. BLUMENTHAL, Mr.
COONS, Mr. LEVIN, and Mr. HEINRICH) introduced the following bill;
which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

S.6, a bill to reauthorize the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, among other things extending VRAP through March of 2016, and covering an additional one hundred thousand veterans was introduced by the all-star cast listed above. The Majority Leader. The Chairman, Bernie Sanders, of the Committee on Veterans Affairs. The Majority Whip. This Bill will get out of the Senate.

So what's the "Action?" You may have heard that the House of Representatives is not exactly in friendly hands. They like to spend money for war profiteers like Halliburton, but not so much for unemployed veterans who are ready to get on with their lives and get on with the job of rebuilding the country they swore to serve. Right now they could use more than a yellow magnetic ribbon.

They want training. They want to go to work. They want to help build 21st Century America.

Please, please contact your Representative and let her know that you want to see our veterans get this chance they've earned. Let your Congresscritter know that you support S.6 and he should too.

Your car looks better without that faux Support Our Troops ribbon anyway.

Originally posted to Military Community Members of Daily Kos on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 02:14 PM PST.

Also republished by DKos Military Veterans.

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