This week the Department of Veterans Affairs announced a new five-year pilot training program called the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Course or VET TEC, for short. With the first class starting in April, it is designed to teach high-tech skills in five areas that are in high demand in the IT field right now:

  1. Information Science
  2. Computer Programming
  3. Data Processing
  4. Media Applications
  5. Computer Software

So how does this course differ from other IT training options? For one, it gets veterans trained and working in a meaningful job faster than taking more traditional college or vocational/technical courses that can take two years or more. Completion under this program can be as short as six months. The VET TEC program is a VA-managed umbrella in which many of the coding boot camps and other high-tech training courses currently in existence will be options to choose from when enrolling.

From the GI Bill standpoint, either the Montgomery or Post 9/11 GI Bills can be used as long as the veteran has at least one day of entitlement left to use. And what is really unique about this program is it does not reduce the veteran’s remaining GI Bill entitlement unlike other training courses taken when using the GI Bill.

But the VA still pays the tuition and provides a monthly housing allowance (MHA) so the veteran student has some money coming in while in the training program. The average MHA across the U.S. is $1,300; more on both the East and West Coasts; less in the Midwest.

The way the VA pays tuition is also different. With most courses, the VA pays the training provider the tuition cost up front before the start of a course. Under this program, courses must have a $10,000 mandatory tuition cost. The VA pays 25% upon enrollment, another 25% upon completion of the course and the final 50% once the trained veteran finds “meaningful employment in the field of study enrolled in”.

The final payment is an incentive for the training provider to help the trained veteran find a job and is an effort to help reduce fraud, waste and abuse that can be common among short-term training providers. And to sweeten the pot, a training provider can become a “preferred provider” of the VA if they agree to give back all the money they received from the VA for a student if that student does not find a job in their trained field within 180 days of completing their program.

Because the announcement is so new, there isn’t an application available yet and most likely training providers or the VA itself may have prerequisites or qualifications that first must be met to get into a course. The application, requirements, prerequisites (if any), and training providers should be coming in the near future on this VA webpage.

If looking to get into the IT field, this new GI Bill training option could be the ticket to jumpstart a new career. And if you have a valid security clearance that is better yet as many of the IT jobs require a clearance. Having both completed this training and a valid security clearance opens doors to jobs that would otherwise not be available.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.