YOUNGSTOWN, OH – More than 27,000 veterans nationwide have applied for a newly-available jobs retraining assistance program made possible through the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, a veterans jobs law enacted in November. Today, at the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission (VSC), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Pedro Colon, Jr., an Army veteran who is the one of the first local veterans to be approved for VRAP—as well as VSC Department Head Barry Landgraver—to highlight the new Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), and to encourage eligible Mahoning Valley veterans to apply.

“Servicemembers who risk their lives protecting our nation shouldn’t have to wonder whether or not they’ll be able to find a job when they leave the service. Unfortunately, many do—and that’s not right,” Brown said. “The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program will help ensure that thousands of veterans can get retrained for new positions in high-demand jobs—and with the first wave of enrollment closing at the end of September, it’s critical that eligible Ohio veterans apply as quickly as possible for these critical benefits.”

“Just as we invest in our servicemembers while they’re on the battlefield, we should do the same when they return home,” Brown continued. “At the end of last year, Congress passed the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, of which the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program is a vital component. This law provides transition assistance and job and education training to connect veterans of all ages with jobs in high-demand sectors and offers tax incentives for employers to hire veterans. These incentives are not only about opportunities for veterans, but also about helping to strengthen our economy by meeting the demand for high-skilled workers.”

Brown was an original cosponsor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, a key provision of which is VRAP, which offers job retraining assistance to veterans between 35 and 60 years of age. According to the VA—which is administering the program along with the U.S. Department of Labor—VRAP offers up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed veterans. Mr. Colon, of Youngstown, plans to use the program to take classes at Mahoning County Career and Technical Training College to become a Medical Assistant.

Between July 1 and September 30, 2012, the program will provide up 45,000 participants with retraining assistance, and an additional 54,000 veterans will receive assistance from October 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. Participants must be enrolled in a VA-approved program of education offered by a community college or technical school. The program must lead to an Associate Degree, Non-College Degree, or a Certificate, and train the Veteran for a high demand occupation. More information about the program is available here.