CSN and Federal Government Help Homeless Veterans

VRAP helps end homelessness among veterans

By Li Han

Military men and women fight for their country, sacrificing it all, and some come home to face serious issues of homelessness and poverty.

In response, a national initiative led by the Department of Veterans Affairs with support from President Obama was created to end homelessness among veterans in America.

Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, otherwise known as VRAP, helps veterans with job training and entry into the workforce. The federal government will offer employment assistance to veterans who finish training for specific jobs.

The U.S. government created a list of 200 high-demand careers that have a need for qualified workers. Veterans can get the training they need through VRAP funding and gain entry into some of those positions.

It is a win-win situation. “[The government] saw the unemployment rate and a big portion of it seemed to be veterans, disabled veterans, or retired veterans, and so they created this program to reduce the number of veterans that were unemployed” said Vanessa Robledo, the Veterans Education Center coordinator at the College of Southern Nevada.

CSN has a Veterans Education Center on its Charleston campus. Veterans can go to the center to get information and apply for VRAP funding. As of October 2012, the program had 76 veterans.

“The VRAP program provides us with a unique opportunity to help this population get off the streets, re-enter society and get the skills they need to obtain meaningful employment,” CSN Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Santos Martinez said in a College press release.

“The veterans that will benefit from this program face unique challenges. It is our hope to help them enroll and also provide tools to help them succeed, such as tutoring, psychological counseling and assistance with disabilities,” Martinez said.

The program also works closely with JobConnect, a statewide network that connects businesses with employees, and U.S. Vets, an organization that helps transition military families by offering helpful provisions such as housing, counseling, and career development. These assistance programs help veterans finish training and find job placement.

As with all new programs, VRAP has some difficulties. Vets must be at least 35 years old. That disqualifies some from funding.

Additionally, Robledo explains, “There are some obstacles for these veterans that have been out of school for so long or never attended school.”

“Especially when you’re homeless, you’re not use to being in a social environment, or being in a classroom, or being able to provide certain things,” Robledo said. One issue is paying for fees or books prior to receiving funds.

Recently the Veterans Education Center was approved to give scholarships to students enrolled in VRAP to help alleviate some financial struggles.

To donate time or money for veterans, call (877) 4AID-VET or visit the VA’s website www.va.gov/homeless.

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