Good news for veterans right around the 4th of July! A new governmental program that pays for up to a year of higher education for military veterans has become a huge success since it was enacted just seven weeks ago, on May 15th. To date, nearly 30,000 veterans have applied for the program.
The Veteran Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), provides funding for “up to a year of education toward an associate degree or non-college degree or certificate,” such as a professional license or training in a trade (Kansas City Star). The program has a maximum of 45,000 slots for this fiscal year and is overseen by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
Some veterans, such as those who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, do not qualify for this program because they are eligible for other forms of relief. VRAP is intended to assist veterans of all ages and eras, including many who have had trouble maintaining steady employment for years.
Veterans are at a higher risk for many issues, one of which is unemployment. Mental health issues and suicide rates are also higher among veterans than in the general population. One of the main reasons for these elevated risks is the lack of support that many veterans face.
Chester Dixon, a recent applicant, believes that the assistance provided by VRAP could help him support his wife, who has brought in most of their income for the past several years. “I stay positive because I need to be,” Dixon said. “You have to continue to search and not give up.”
This program and others, such as the Post 9/11 GI Bill, are government responses to criticism of our country’s support of veterans. It’s good to see that VRAP is already having such a positive response, and hopefully this is only the beginning of increased support for our country’s heroes.
Photo credit: Fort Rucker