New VA Program Helping Unemployed Vets

The $400 million VA program offers education and training for high-demand jobs to unemployed veterans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a relatively small number of vets have jobs due to the VA program, although eligible persons and lawmakers showed interest. 


The previous year, Congress approved the VRRAP (Veteran Rapid Retraining Assistance Program) as part of the coronavirus financial relief package. Up to 17,250 eligible people are allowed to participate in this program. Applicants have been signing up for the program since May of last year. 

However, after a time frame of 8 months, just 3,400 vets have participated in the VRRAP. There are only around 700 program graduates and 70 veterans have been able to find jobs as a result. 


The VA launched another program in 2019 called the Employment Through Technology Education Resources (VETTEC). Although the budget for this program was smaller, it still has a higher success rate in terms of veterans finding jobs. 

Around 1,700 graduates of this program have gained employment, and their average annual salary is $60,000. Around 900 trainees have another six months of VETTEC training to complete before entering the job market. VETTEC was initially meant to last for five years. However, some members of Congress are lobbying to expand and continue this program. 

However, Congress members and VA personnel are trying to find out the factors that led to the failure of the VRRAP. The low success rate of the VRRAP is surprising, given that many veterans lost employment directly due to covid. 

Why VRRAP Failed

The Congress committee tasked with orchestrating the program collaborated with the VA to design the program and allocate funding according to expected demand from veterans. However, there has been substantially less participation than was anticipated. 

Around 5,000 participants did not complete the program after joining it. The VA is analyzing the possible problems that these participants faced. Based on this assessment, they will make suggestions to improve the program. 

Only those veterans are eligible to apply for the VRRAP who have tried other employment-training schemes like the GI Bill and are still without a job owing to covid-related health problems, layoffs or closures. 

Qualifying vets are eligible for education benefits similar to what GI Bill offers. Hence, they will be eligible to receive housing stipends and tuition benefits for 12 months, during which they will complete their certificate program and acquire new skills. 

Around $100 million from program funds have been granted to trainees. Any amount that remains unspent will go back to the treasury by the year-end. Officials are hopeful that they will implement more changes that will allow more funds to reach trainees. 

Bottom Line

The latest VA program was designed to train veterans to have the skills necessary for new employment. However, the VA will have to look into potential problems with the program to improve its success rate.