BERRYVILLE -- The Veteran Retraining Assistance Program, proposed by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, is offering up to a year's worth of educational assistance to veterans that qualify for benefits.
Paul Boss, Carroll County's new Veterans Service Officer, wants to inform local vets about educational benefits offered to them by the government.
"A lot of people don't know that this is available and I want to get the word out", he said. "There are many veterans across the county that may be eligible for this program."
VRAP will give education allowances to veterans who want to be trained in a specific field of work through a vocational or associate's degree program.
The criteria for VRAP are as follows: must be unemployed; at least 35 years old, but no more than 60; not eligible for any other VA benefit programs, i.e., The post-9/11 G.I. Bill, Montgomery G.I. Bill, or vocational rehabilitation and employment; must not receive VA compensation due to Individual Unemployabliity (IU); cannot be enrolled in federal or state job training; must not have a dishonorable discharge.
Accepted programs for education must meet the following criteria to qualify for benefits: classes must be offered at a community or technical school; must lead to an associate's degree or certificate; training must be for a high-demand occupation.
Informational lectures are provided by Boss, bi-weekly, at varying locations across the county. Currently, meetings are being held at Northark in Berryville, but locations may change depending upon expected attendance.
"My goal is to hold a meeting every two weeks so that I can make an impact on the people I am serving," Boss said.
Applications for the program are currently being accepted. Each qualifying veteran could be eligible for up to $1,400 a month or $23,000 a year, tax-free, toward education; this is an earned benefit from serving in the United States military during time of war.
The 12 months of assistance is equal to the full-time Montgomery G.I. Bill. Assistance under this program ends March 31, 2014.
Service-connected Disabled Veterans may qualify for additional vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits. These benefits are to help a Disabled Veteran go back into a vocation through an associate's degree, 12-month assistance program to become trained in a field. Courses can be taken online or at a vocational college.
"There is a lot of paperwork involved but if you want to go back to school, there is money and programs out there to help," Boss said. "These men and women served their country honorably and through these types of programs they will continue to serve by doing their best and contributing to their community."
For more information, contact Paul Boss at 870-423-4000.