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VA launches new no-cost training programs

Learning-hub system also has online possibilities

Published: Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 11:28 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 11:32 a.m. CDT
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There are a number of state and federal programs in the works to attempt to help military servicemembers become productive civilians. One such program is Home Base Iowa, described here by its director, Kathy Anderson, in her April visit to Newton, and the Veterans Administration introduced a retraining program this week.

A new Department of Veterans Affairs program attempts to ensure the large number of people discharging from active duty over the next few years will have the skills for technology-heavy jobs in the private sector.

Wednesday, the U.S. Veterans Affairs announced the launch of two new no-cost training programs, Accelerated Learning Programs and VA Learning Hubs, to help transitioning servicemembers and veterans from all eras learn skills, earn credentials, and advance in civilian careers following separation from service.

The programs are part of the Veterans Economic Communities Initiative, promoting education and employment opportunities for Veterans through integrated networks of support in 50 cities.

Jasper County Veterans Affairs Director Chris Chartier said he supports the initiative.

“This is a huge opportunity for veterans who have no education benefits,” Chartier said. “The information was just released yesterday, and as we get more information, I will certainly pass it on. This needs to get out to as many Veterans as possible, as the need — especially for older Veterans still in the workforce — is tremendous.”

The VA launched the VECI program in response to President Obama’s August 2014 challenge to help Veterans and families integrate with their communities and find meaningful jobs that can lead to economic success. Under VA Secretary Robert McDonald’s transformation, VECI is now in place in cities across the United States.

There are about 25 cities that are already listed as part of the program, including Chicago, Kansas City and St. Louis. Online options are available for those who don’t live near one of the hubs.

McDonald, in a news release, said planning ahead is a critical element of discharging from active duty.

“My message to transitioning Servicemembers is simple: Plan early and stay engaged, because transition is the mission,” said McDonald. “These two new resources provide no-cost opportunities for our transitioning servicemembers and veterans to learn new skills and earn credentials, which can increase their competitiveness during their transition.”

ALPs offer transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans the opportunity to build on their world-class training and technical skills gained through their military service, and earn certifications in high-demand fields. The VA is piloting ALPs this summer with seven courses focusing on building skills and certifications needed to advance in high-demand careers in information technology.

Each ALP course is offered at no cost and includes free referral and support services..   Transitioning servicemembers and veterans are invited to apply to their choice of courses. Applications will be accepted beginning Aug. 17. ALPs do not involve use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Students are able to participate in these programs while also pursuing other programs of study using Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

VA is also launching Learning Hubs in 27 cities across the country this year in partnership with the American Red Cross, The Mission Continues and Coursera, an online education platform. Transitioning Servicemembers and Veterans can take advantage of both online and in-person study.

Each week, online course modules will be completed outside the classroom while class sessions, led by Learning Hub facilitators, provide opportunities to discuss course materials with peers, hear from subject matter experts, and network.

With thousands of veterans expected to enter civilian life over the next five years, the VA’s programs are part of a larger state and federal effort to house and employ veterans stateside. Home Base Iowa is a state-funded program that provides qualifying criteria to get on a list of Iowa communities that are veteran-friendly, and Jasper County is in the process of attaining that certification.

For more information about VECI or to learn more about VA ALPs and learning hubs, send email to VeteranEmployment.vbaco@va.gov or visit this website: http://1.usa.gov/1f0fteV

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com

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