Veterans organizations joined a bipartisan group of House members this week in calling on Congress to pass an extension of an important veterans’ education program that is set to expire at the end of the month.
The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) is a G.I. Bill-like benefits program that provides access to education for veterans ages 35–60 to receive a certificate or associates degree in a “high demand industry,” according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) introduced a bipartisan bill earlier this month that would fund VRAP benefits through September. “Far too many veterans in Ventura County and across the country are unemployed, and we owe it to them to help them re-train for new high-skilled jobs and careers. The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program has succeeded in helping many veterans re-train and find employment, and it should not be allowed to lapse,” she said in a statement at the time.
While the White House has given the Veterans Affairs Department guidance on how to use some of the remaining money to continue funding veterans already enrolled in the program, the VFW says it “would prefer to see Congress extend the program to allow new veterans to sign up for classes into next fall.”
“VRAP is an example of good governance because it offers a hand-up to unemployed veterans, helping them acquire the skills they need to compete in today’s job market,” VFW Deputy Legislative Director Ryan Gallucci said at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thrusday. “Veterans are motivated, hard-working and resilient; we know that companies want to hire them. VRAP is reinforcing this, but we’re running out of time.”
Gallucci said the VA still has funds to train more vets and the VFW says it would not only like to see Congress pass Brownely’s bill, but also extend the program two more years in order to hopefully get 100,000 additional veterans trained (125,000 have enrolled in the program so far).