If you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic, to the extent that you know you need a different career, the Department of Veterans Affairs might be able to help. The Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program is in place and accepting applications for education and training from veterans who are out of work.

There are a number of qualifications for eligibility: Over age 22 but not older than 66, out of work because of COVID, not eligible for GI Bill or VR&E benefits (or you transferred your GI Bill benefits to family members), not disabled, not in a federal or state jobs program, and not getting unemployment (including CARES ACT benefits).

The education and training offered covers VET TEC (Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses) at the associates degree level, non-college degree, or certificate level. These courses are accelerated and are in fields such as health care, education, media, engineering and high-tech. The VA, working with the Department of Labor, came up with a list of 208 potential careers that can spring from those high-demand occupations. If you’re eligible, you can get up to 12 months of tuition and a monthly housing allowance. There is a list of schools that have been accepted into the program, and the list is very long.

The caveat: If you’re considering this, don’t delay. There’s a time limit (December 2022), a money limit in funding and a participant limit of 17,250 veterans. Once one of those is reached, no further applications will be accepted.

Call the VA at 888-442-4551 with questions. Or go online to va.gov and put Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program (VRRAP) in the search box.

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