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Editor’s Note: This article incorrectly stated that Weber State University students are eligible for the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program. According to Charlie Chandler, director of veteran services at WSU, the department of veterans affairs has not designated WSU as a school eligible to provide VRAP, although WSU provides a certification program, associate degrees and a technical school with the Police Academy.
The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program has cast another safety net for veterans at Weber State University and other institutions starting on July 1.
With the passage of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011, the VRAP is now available for military veterans who want to gain certification for a job and are receiving no other benefits.
“Most of the students who come in are eligible for other education Veterans Affairs benefits,” said Jennifer Comer, the WSU veterans senator. “This is designed specifically for those who aren’t.”
The program offers 12 months of training to veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 who have received an other-than- dishonorable discharge, are currently unemployed and are receiving no other benefits from the VA. The program is limited to 45,000 participants between July 1 and Sept. 30. Currently, almost 30,900 applications have been received.
VRAP will provide training for programs of education that lead to jobs which are in high demand across the country. With the help of VRAP, it is intended that those few WSU veterans who are ineligible for other benefits can attain associate degrees or certifications, or use the program to finish up bachelor’s degrees.
Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor oversee the program. According to the Utah Office of the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans must be enrolled in a college or job training program in order to receive benefits.
Because the program has only just been debuted, no students at WSU have yet applied for the assistance, according to the WSU Veterans Affairs office. Students who apply at WSU get up to 12 months of assistance, like at other institutions, and currently they would receive $1,041 for monthly housing at WSU specifically at a 100 percent rate.
George Van Etten is a junior at WSU and currently receives the GI Bill and the Purple Heart Waiver. Although he receives other benefits currently, he said that, because they are subject to change, he appreciates having another option to back up his progress toward a degree.
“Since I’ve been there for two years, my veterans benefits have changed several times,” Van Etten said.
Van Etten went on to describe the difficulties that constant changes cause to the benefits he is set up to receive. Oftentimes, the changes result in he and other veterans receiving less benefits than they did before. This is made especially difficult because many veterans also have families to balance out along with their classes.
“I do worry that they are going to change it yet again before I’m finished with school,” he said.