The Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011 that was passed on November 17, 2011 contains several working parts, but I want to focus primarily on the part pertaining to education.
A part of the Bill could have a significant impact on unemployed 35 to 60 year-old veterans as it will offer up to 12 months of retraining benefits paid at the same rate as the Montgomery GI Bill, which currently stands at $1,473 per month. The Secretary of Labor will provide the funding for the retraining program, however, payments will be made through the Department of Veterans Affairs. (I hear the groans already.)
Requirements for you to participate in the retraining program include:
– Having an honorable discharge from your last tour of duty in the Armed Forces.
– Having been unemployed for a specified period of time yet to be determined by the Secretary of Labor, but first consideration will go to veterans who have been unemployed for at least 26 weeks or more.
– Not eligible for other types of veterans’ educational assistance, including:
o Montgomery GI Bill (Chapter 33)
o Vocational Rehabilitation Program (Chapter 31)
o Post 9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33)
o Survivor and Dependents Education Assistance Program (Chapter 35)
o Certifying your enrollment in the program monthly.
o Applying prior to October 1, 2013. The application procedures are still being worked out at the time of this writing. Once known, we will post them on this blog.
The Bill does limit the number of veterans that can participate in the retraining program to 55,000 between the period of October 1, 2012 and March 31, 2014, so it will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The retraining must be offered at a community college or vocational-technical school and must lead to an associate’s degree, certificate, license or other type of program completion documentation and be in an occupation designated as in high demand by the Secretary of Labor.
If handled properly, this program can help many veterans that are struggling to find work. Congress did its part in passing this Bill – now it is up to you to use these benefits wisely.
Photo thanks to scui3asteveo under creative commons license on Flickr.