This post on VRAP is otherwise known as “Why Veterans Get Frustrated By VA So Much,” in another case of Penny Wise – Pound Foolish.
There are two issues internal to the VA that have caused VRAP implementation to be difficult. First, veterans are struggling to get correspondence from the VA after they apply.
Second, and the point of this post, the VA initially decided to prevent veterans from using many high quality colleges for the retraining.
I just received word from Congressman Jeff Miller’s office about VRAP and the VA’s mishandling of the program. Congressman Miller is Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.
According to Congressman Miller, the VA misinterpreted the intent of Congress. Initially, VA decided to prohibit veterans from using the program at Community Colleges that offer bachelor degrees.
There was no reason given for the prohibition. If anything, the prohibition was to serve as a roadblock to keep veterans out of the program when there is only one option – a Community College that also gives out bachelors degrees.
Meanwhile, a prohibition keeps colleges from competing for the funds by limiting the number of options to veterans. Limited options allows qualifying colleges to raise their market rates that the VA will pay using tax dollars.
Hence, it is another example of the VA being penny wise and pound foolish. Or, maybe just foolish.
To date, there have been 23,000 veteran applicants.
Here are the words of the Chairman:
[quote style="1"] The original intent of the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program was to give unemployed veterans the chance to acquire the skills needed to become more competitive in the work force. The majority of the feedback I have received has been encouraging. It was recently brought to my attention, however, that VA had no plans to include community colleges that also awarded Bachelor degrees in VRAP. This was viewed by the Committee as failing to comply with the spirit of the law, as this opportunity was designed to assist veterans in finding employment, not create more roadblocks. I congratulate and thank VA for rethinking its original position and making a smart decision to allow veterans who are eligible for VRAP to attend community colleges that also offer a very limited number of award bachelors’ degrees. VRAP is a tremendous tool to help reduce the unemployment rate among veterans. VA’s reversal serves as a step forward as we begin the implementation phase of the many components of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act. I would like to thank Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Gus Bilirakis for taking the lead on this issue to ensure veterans enrolled in VRAP get the full benefits promised. [/quote]