Retraining Opportunity from the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011


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.


16 thoughts on “Retraining Opportunity from the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act of 2011”

    1. I enjoy reading the blogs posted. I’m also a Vietnam Era Veteran that did not use my education benifits. I retired in 92. My question is what education benifits is available for me, if any.

      1. Hi McArthur. From the GI Bill, no benefits would be available. If you had converted to the Montgomery GI Bill, it expired in 2002 – 10 years from your date of discharge. Of course, you were out for some time when the Post 9/11 GI Bill started in 2009.

        Depending on your situation, you may qualify for up to 12 months of training under this new Act for veterans. As more application information becomes available, we will post it here in the VaBenefitBlog.

  1. Well, I’m 65, a Vietnam widow and have gone back to finish my degree. Now I find out that my benefits have exceeded the time period of 20 years and I no longer qualify. What person decided to put a time limit on this? I am so disgusted with the whole program. Any ideas of what to do next?

    1. Hi Shirley. I know, it sucks. There has been some talk from time-to-time to eliminate the delimitation dates from the GI Bills, however, it has never progressed past the talking stage.

      I agree there should not be a limit on when you have to use your benefits, but Congress sees it differently as they put a 15 year limit on the newest GI bill – the Post 9/11 GI Bill which came out in 2009.

      As far as what you can do next? Contact your federal legislators in Congress and ask that they introduce a bill and garner co-sponsors that would eliminate delimitation dates from the GI Bills.

      Let them know how disgusted you are with THEIR handling of this part of the GI Bill and as a widow, the impact it has on your life.

  2. Michelle Pisciotta

    This is wonderful news for Veterans of this country whom have served honorably, to get a chance at retraining in a field they like and a little assistance on the way to success in the civilian sector.

    1. Hi Michelle. Yes it can be a real boost to veterans if the program is run correctly, or it could be just another waste of the taxpayers money if it isn’t.

  3. Mohammed Vasquez

    hi, i am currently 38 years old and was honorable discharged in1999, i already used my Gi Bill but due to my stroke i would love to go to school and get some computer retraining, or venture some new career move, ho do i contact so i can get walked thru this process.oh i live in Silver Spring, MD

  4. Hey there,

    I appreciate the ‘education’ on the new bill — VOW. I haven’t found anything on how to apply. Any updates from you?



      1. Our drop-out rates are more than alarming. They are detnsvatiag. We are apparently missing something more fundamental than just a less than perfect educational experience. The reason for high drop-out rates are probably more a function of life experience OUTSIDE of school than a failure of the schools to provide some magic motivator. While we need to improve educational opportunity and the quality of education itself for our youth, we need to address, in a school setting, the problems that are created within society leading students to the level of depression and sense of worthlessness that eventually leads to dropping out as a last desperate attempt to escape their anxieties and dissolutionments with society in general. I have tried for years to understand the deeper dynamic driving the minds of drop-outs, and, while I haven’t fathomed a strong answer, I am convinced that the schools are the least of the problem. Schools do not create drop-outs; they fail in not understanding the causes of the drop-out mentality and effectively addressing those causes. Dropping out of high school is, more accurately, a symptom of a societal illness. The schools become the scapegoat, being blamed for driving teens from the educational experience. I don’t accept that this is the case, but I do expect the schools to continue to search for ways to cure or redirect the drop-out mentality back onto a successful life course.

  5. Hi everyone, Ron here. I picked up some more information this morning on VRAP. Here it is – “To apply or learn more information about VRAP or Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits, including on how to apply please call 1-800-827-1000 or visit and fill out an online application (VONAPP), or Complete VA Form 28-1900, Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational Rehabilitation, and submit it to the nearest VA Regional Office.”

    To create a VONAPP account, go to this link: It looks like they will use VA Form 22-1990 which is the same form used to apply for other GI Bill benefits.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *