Servicemembers -- already armed with the discipline and skills needed to strengthen the 21st century economy -- should not have to struggle to find a job when their military service ends.
These heroes who fought for our country shouldn't have to fight for work when they come home.
And yet, unfortunately many do. As citizens, we have a responsibility to do something about the thousands of older veterans who are jobless or underemployed.
That's why the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) - a joint Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Labor training initiative - is so important.
Last year, Congress passed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which honors our government's obligation to our veterans. VRAP is a critical component of the law.
VRAP provides unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60 the opportunity to pursue training for new careers in high demand occupations.
While the entire list of VRAP high-demand occupations can be found on the VA website, some include:
Welders, chemical plant operators, painters
Law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical technicians
Construction, electrical technicians, flight attendants
Paralegals, Legal secretaries, administrative support
Teachers aides, library technicians, counselors
These opportunities are wide-ranging. And in fact, as of July 12, more than 31,000 applications nationwide have been received for the VRAP program. However, the program is limited to 99,000 participants through March 31, 2014.
Because applicants will be approved on a first come, first serve basis, we all must do everything we can to spread the word to eligible veterans in Ohio. This is a great opportunity that Ohio veterans deserve.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in order to qualify for the program, a Veteran must:
Be at least 35 but no more than 60 years old
Have an other than dishonorable discharge
Not be eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g.: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance)
Not be in receipt of VA compensation
Not be enrolled in a Federal or state job training program
And while participants are required to be enrolled in a VA-approved education program, here in Ohio, we're lucky to have 23 community and technical colleges that have already been approved.
Each of these schools offers programs which lead to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate, and include training for a high-demand occupation. Veterans can enroll at each of these colleges using VRAP assistance.
We need to spread the word about training programs, like VRAP, that will help provide our veterans with the necessary skills to find good paying jobs.
By raising awareness of veterans' jobs services and better coordinating the range of resources available to them, we can help improve job prospects for America's heroes.
To find out more about the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, please visit http://www.benefits.va.gov/VOW/. If you're ready to apply, VRAP applications are available here: https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits-portal/ebenefits.portal?_nfpb=true&_portlet.async=false&_pageLabel=ebenefits_myeb_vonapp1
If you have any other questions regarding veteran services, please contact my office at 888-896-OHIO (6446) or visit www.brown.senate.gov for information.