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Veterans may qualify for additional education benefits

The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) offers 12 months of retraining assistance to Veterans who are:

1. Unemployed.

2. At least 35 ,but no more than 60 years old.

3. Have an other-than-dishonorable discharge.

4. Not eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g., the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment).

5. Not in receipt of VA compensation due to Individual Unemployability (IU).

6. Not enrolled in a federal or state job training program.

7. Enrolled in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school.

The program is limited to 45,000 participants from July 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2012, and to 54,000 participants from Oct. 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance at the full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program (currently $1,473 per month). The program must lead to an associate degree, non college degree, or a certification, and train the veteran for a high demand occupation.

Visit www.gibill.va.gov/VRAP to learn more and read frequently asked questions about VRAP. More details about VRAP, including information on how to apply, will be published at www.gibill.va.gov as they become available.

Veterans with a service-connected disability may qualify for additional vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits.

Veterans who previously completed a VA vocational rehabilitation program and have used the initial 26 weeks of unemployment benefits may qualify for an additional 12 months of VA vocational rehabilitation benefits.

You must have previously completed a VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program and been considered “rehabilitated” by VA.

You must apply within six months of using up your initial 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. You may still qualify for extended or emergency unemployment benefits.

You can apply now, but cannot start any education or training until June 1, 2012 and you must apply to VA by March 31, 2014.

VA may offer incentive payments to encourage employers to hire and train program participants.

VA may be able to reimburse an employer up to half your annual salary for six months or longer.

This can provide you with a competitive advantage with employers.

You must apply and qualify for VA vocational rehabilitation benefits prior to being hired.

To apply or learn more information about vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits please call 1 800 827 1000, visit the www.va.gov and fill out an online application (VONAPP), or Complete VA Form 28 1900, Disabled Veterans Application for Vocational Rehabilitation, and submit it to the nearest VA Regional Office.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 1970 E. Third Ave. in the old Mercy Medical Center.

Meetings

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

American Legion Post 108, second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa St.

Veterans for Veterans, every Tuesday at 10 a.m., 164 N. Pagosa Blvd. (Buffalo Inn).

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, please call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The office number is 264-4013, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs.

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