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New program for Veterans

By KELLI K. NICHOLAS, Marketing Coordinator — Michigan Works!

The new Veterans Retraining Assistance Program for veterans ages 35 to 60 years old assists veterans who are looking for a different career.

“This program is absolutely important to give our veterans a boost,” says Bill Kennings, Veterans Employment Specialist.  The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) provides educational benefits for up to 12 months of training for eligible veterans who:

  • Are at least 35 but no more than 60 years old
  • Are unemployed
  • Received any discharge except dishonorable
  • Are not eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g.: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance)
  • Are not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability
  • Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program

The training must be enrolled in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an Associates Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate, and train the veteran for a high demand occupation.

Although a veteran can learn how to apply for this benefit online at www.benefits.va/gov/VOW, local veterans can also visit their closest Michigan Works! office to meet with a specially trained Veterans Employment Specialist.

“This is a team effort. Michigan Works! supports our programs very well,” says Kennings, who works out of the Michigan Works! offices in West Branch, Gladwin, Clare and Prudenville. Kennings has sent out hundreds of emails to local veterans encouraging them to apply for this benefit.

Veterans can decide for themselves what training program to pursue. Kennings and staff are able to assist veterans with career counseling, interest assessments and the High Demand Occupation List as guides.

“It is up to us to show them what’s available and then let them make their decisions,” he says.

After a successful 20-year career in the Air Force, Kennings can relate well to the veterans looking for a different kind of career or a way to blend their military background.

“We can help them with the online training application process as well as help with their job search and find other support services,” says Kennings.
More than 75 veterans found employment over the last year working with Kennings. He can be reached at the Gladwin County Michigan Works! office at (989) 426-8571 or the Clare County Michigan Works! office at (989) 539-2173.

There are other employment services available for veterans provided by the federal government. Visit www.fedshirevets.gov and the Department of Labor’s www.DOL.gov/vets to learn more.


(Mid Michigan Career Outlook is a regular monthly feature of The Laker Current.)

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