07/12/12 — Program to assist unemployed veterans

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Program to assist unemployed veterans

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on July 12, 2012 1:46 PM

Unemployed veterans in Wayne County can now get 12 months of free training for high-demand jobs, thanks to a federal assistance program that took effect last week.

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program operates through community colleges and technical schools to teach unemployed veterans a marketable skill set.

Once veterans have the training, it will be up to them to find the jobs, said Debra Best, veterans supervisor at the Division of Workforce Solutions.

"That's the goal," she said. "That might be easier said than done. The main thing is to get them that training."

For now, Ms. Best said her office's main goal is to get the word out to local veterans so they can check if they qualify and apply for the program.

"Once people have the information, they themselves are going to be responsible for going online ... and seeing if they qualify," she said.

To qualify, veterans must be 35-60 years old, unemployed and have anything other than a dishonorable discharge. They cannot be receiving compensation for "unemployability," nor can they be enrolled in any other federal or state job training program. They also cannot be eligible for any other veteran education benefit programs.

Officials at Wayne Community College said they are ready to welcome qualified veterans as soon as they start coming in.

"We would be excited to assist any veteran that qualifies," said Gene Smith, associate vice president of academic and student services. "We look forward to them enrolling in the fall."

Smith added that Wayne Community offers training for the majority of what the program has deemed high-demand jobs.

Ms. Best said she didn't have an exact number of how many Wayne County veterans are unemployed because not all of them come through her office.

For those who do qualify, however, she encourages them to apply as soon as possible.

The program is limited to 45,000 participants from July 1 through Sept. 30, and it is limited to 54,000 participants from Oct. 1 to March 31, 2014.

To apply or check if you qualify, visit www.benefits.va.gov/vow. The website also includes a list of in-demand jobs for which veterans can receive training under "Resources" and "Veterans Job Bank."

For more information, call 1-800-827-1000.