Most of my clients and potential clients received a less-than-honorable discharge from the military. For many, the most immediate consequence is a loss of educational benefits (most notably, the Post-9/11 GI Bill (worth tens of thousands of dollars)).
They are left looking to obtain employment and training. Most lack means and are forced to accept menial employment and day-labor tasks. It’s a helluva fall from military member with pay and benefits to day-labor.
Help exists in the form of VRAP (Veterans Retraining Assistance Program), but slots are limited. Per the VA:
The VRAP offers 12 months of training assistance to Veterans who:
- Are at least 35 but no more than 60 years old
- Are unemployed on the date of application
- Received an other than dishonorable discharge
- Are 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)
- Are not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability
- Are not enrolled in a federal or state job training program
The program is limited to 45,000 participants from July 1, 2012, through September 30, 2012, and 54,000 participants from October 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. Participants must attend full-time in order to receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program ($1,564 effective October 1, 2012). DOL will offer employment assistance to every Veteran who participates upon completion of the program.
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.
Many veterans who leave the military with a less-than-honorable characterization of service abandon hope of receiving educational/vocational benefits. Here’s why they should consider this program.
- Most do not have a Dishonorable Discharge. 5 types of discharges exist, and 4 of them are “other than dishonorable.” The discharges (characterizations of service) are:
- General (Under Honorable Conditions)
- Other-Than-Honorable (OTH)
- Bad-Conduct Discharge (BCD)
- Dishonorable Discharge
- Anyone receiving a General, OTH, or BCD loses eligibility for any other VA educational benefit (Montgomery and Post 9/11 GI Bills).
- This policy also does not appear to exclude individuals who receive Entry-Level/Uncharacterized separations during their first 6 months of service.
So, please pass this word to any down-and-out veterans you know. It may be just what they need to get back on their feet after a less-than-auspicious exit from the military.
When in doubt, apply.
Note: I didn’t write this post as a solicitation for questions. It is for informational purposes only. To determine your eligibility for this program, contact the VA through the internet or your local VA service center.