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VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011

New GI Bill Benefits including education and training options for unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 are part of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program recently signed into law.

As part of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, the Department of Labor and VA are planning to make the new program available no later than July 1, 2012.

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program offers 12 months of training assistance to unemployed veterans who meet the eligibility requirements. To quality, a veteran must:
  • Be between the ages of 35 and 60
  • Be unemployed (as determined by the Department of Labor) with special consideration giving to vets who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks
  • Have left the military in any way except for being dishonorably discharged
  • Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program, including the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance
  • Not be in receipt of compensation due to unemployability
  • Not be enrolled in a federal or state job training program

The law will limit the program to 45,000 participants in 2012, the first fiscal year, and increase that number to 54,000 participants in the second fiscal year, which starts October 1, 2012. The program will close enrollment on March 31, 2004. 

As part of the program, participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance at the full-time payment rate — currently $1,473 per month — under the Montgomery GI Bill-Active Duty program. This will be funded through the VA like other GI Bill programs, but applications will be submitted and processed through the Department of Labor.

The Department of Labor will also provide employment assistance to every veteran who participates upon completion of their program.

Each participant must be enrolled in a VA-approved education program offered by a community college or technical school, leading to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree or a Certification, and train for a high demand occupation. 

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