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Saturday, September 15, 2012 - 8:00pm

New Program Helps Older Vets

A new federal program aims to get older veterans back to work. The Veterans Retraining Assistance Program helps vets 35 to 60 years old.

The so-called VRAP program is available to unemployed veterans who served in the military before the 9/11 attacks.

Tim Oliver with Valdosta Veterans First, says older vets resumes often don’t translate well to the needs of the current workforce.

“A lot of veterans in the older age groups are looking for management positions. Those are few and far between, particularly in this area. Most of them would have to move.”

36 year old participant Chris Sheffield got out of the Air Force in 1998. He says
“We’re not just forgotten. There’s a purpose out there for us. And I’ll tell you, the last two and a half months have been humbling, but it’s been eye-opening at the same time.”

Sheffield says the program is a life-line.
“I can’t afford to go back to school. I’m 36 years old. I don’t have the money, the mentality. And low and behold there’s this VRAP program. It would allow me to go back to school and train into a career field that has a surplus of jobs for people in the future.”

Sheffield will train to become a licensed practical nurse.

"V-RAP" offers older vets 14 hundred dollars a month for up to a year. Sheffield says that makes all the difference.

“Now that doesn’t go to the school, like a Pell grant or a loan or anything. It’s money for as long as your program is. It will allow you to go to school. It’s direct-deposited into your account. It’s there to help you pay your rent. It’s there to help pay for your books.”

Vets must attend a community college or technical school, and will be trained for high demand jobs.

Those interested can apply online. Older vets can also contact the State Department of Labor about the program.

Georgia ranks fourth in the nation in the number of applications to the VRAP program.

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