US VA eyes more focused employment help with future education, benefits efforts for vets

vets education GI Bill

There were recent reforms to the Post-9/11 GI Bill. There is a systematic effort to broaden the bill, i.e. the eligibility for both what individuals (including vets) and what types of education opportunities it covers.

But the head of Veterans Affairs’ Education Service service said the future of the benefit may be focused on narrowing down some of those options, based on the success of a few recent department job training programs.

“Right now, it’s just basically a free for all,” said Charmain Bogue, executive director of the agency, during a roundtable with reporters last week. “We give you all these resources [through the GI Bill] and you have to kind of figure out your own way in terms of what would be a viable career for you.

“It would be nice to be able to say, ‘These are the top five or top 10 occupations to look at, these are the types of degrees or certificates you need in this type of occupation.’ We are trying to move towards giving better information from that standpoint, so [veterans] can make better informed decisions at the end of the day.”

Best Program

In fiscal 2020, more than 875,000 individuals used GI Bill benefits for college classes, at a cost of about $11 billion. The program is among the best benefits provider for military service and is unlikely to undergo a major overhaul in coming years, given its high usage rates.

But Veterans Affairs officials have seen increasing popularity in recent years with more targeted job training programs, most prominently the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) for vets.

That program ran out of its annual allotment of $30 million last week, a month and a half before the end of the fiscal year. Department officials have asked Congress to consider expanding the two-year-old pilot program into a $125 million permanent offering. (continue reading)

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