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May 29, 2012
Augusta, Maine—Unemployed veterans aged 35 to 60 in Maine may qualify for up to 12 months of job training through the new Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP). VRAP will provide training for programs of education that lead to a high-demand occupation. The program, which starts July 1, is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Labor.
Veterans who visit Maine Department of Labor’s CareerCenters can be connected to VRAP as well as other veterans’ services. “Often the first thing veterans think about after they return home and connect with their families is ‘I need a job,’” said Leon Ouimet, manager of the Southern Midcoast CareerCenter in Brunswick, which has been directing returning veterans to the program. “They often come to the CareerCenter to look for work before accessing other services available to veterans. We can help them connect with the services they need, including training, jobs, rehabilitation or other benefits.” CareerCenters also help employers recruit and hire veterans.
According to the U.S. Census, Maine has the fourth highest concentration of veterans in the nation. Approximately 132,000 residents are veterans, representing approximately 13.2 percent of the state population aged 20 or older.
A recent report issued by the Maine Department of Labor indicates that labor force participation for veterans is generally lower than for the nonveteran population. A copy of the report, Labor Market Activities of Maine Veterans, is available on the Maine Department of Labor website at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri.
Historically, veterans have had unemployment rates below the nonveteran population. This trend has reversed in recent years with higher unemployment rates for veterans than nonveteran workers. Most notable was the plight of young veterans, where unemployment rates nearly tripled to more than 14 percent during the recession and early recovery.
The VRAP program seeks to target the problem of unemployed veterans between the ages of 35 and 60. Participants may receive up to 12 months of assistance equal to the monthly full-time payment rate under the Montgomery GI Bill–Active Duty program—currently $1,473 per month. Each veteran who participates will be provided employment assistance upon completion of the program. Applications are now available online at http://benefits.va.gov/vow .
The Maine Department of Labor’s CareerCenters offer specialized employment and training services for veterans. Veterans and eligible spouses are given priority of service under most Maine Department of Labor-funded programs. A CareerCenter veterans' representative can help returning service members find a job, learn new skills or access other state or federal resources.
For more information about employment and training services for veterans, contact the CareerCenter at (207) 623-7981 or TTY 1-800-794-1110 or visit www.mainecareercenter.com.