The United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) launched its VET TEC program earlier this year as a way to provide tuition and housing assistance to military veterans. It pairs eligible veterans with market-leading training providers to provide the high-tech training and skills development now being sought by employers. The goal of the program is to provide accelerated computer skill training programs that take just months or even weeks to complete – and provide veterans an easier and quicker away to start their civilian careers.
To participate in the program veterans need only one day of unexpired GI Bill benefits, however the program doesn’t actually use those benefits, but instead pays a monthly housing stipend to students in the program. After applying, the VA determines eligibility and applicants then receive certificates of eligibility on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funds are exhausted. VET TEC has an initial funding level of $15 million annually.
There are now several new “coding bootcamps” that have been approved as a result of the enactment of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act – also known as the Forever GI Bill – in August 2017. There are also similar programs in information science, computer software, media application and data processing. Some of the schools and programs even offer scholarship opportunities that can send the veterans to the programming bootcamps, and these can range from a $500 automatic scholarship to 90% off the cost of tuition.
For those who attend in-person the payment will be equal to the monthly military Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents, based on the zip code where the training physically occurs. For those who train online, the stipend will be half of the BAH national average for an E-5 with dependents. Housing payment will also be prorated for the days attended for those who do not train for the full month.
Programs in the Spotlight
The VA maintains a catalog of programs and lists new providers as these come on board. There are both preferred and non-preferred programs, with sessions that can be as short as 36 hours and upwards of 602 hours of study.
On the shorter end there is the 36-hour in person non-preferred program from Intellectual Point of Reston, VA – and among its bootcamps are those for Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect, Cisco Certified Network Associate and CompTIA Security+.
Code Platoon of Chicago, IL offers a non-preferred online/in-person bootcamp that runs 560 hours. The company touts that this is more than a basic training on software programming. This past August the non-profit, which works with Chicagoland-area veterans and military spouses, announced that it had received a $50,000 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and it will those proceeds to include more students in its program.
“Veterans and military spouses step forward to serve our country, and they deserve our help,” said Rodrigo Levy, founder and executive director of Code Platoon. “The impact of this generous grant from the McCormick Foundation will help us create more opportunities for our students to learn and grow as software developers.”
Code Platoon’s programs consist of eight to 12 students per class, and each spends 60 to 80s hour a week together for 14 weeks. Students are taught the Python and Ruby on Rails technology stakes, which are increasingly popular in the software development field.
Among the preferred in-person programs are those from Lab Four of Nashville, TN, which offers bootcamps ranging from 72 hours for Certified Ethical Hacker to a 602 hour study for a Database and Software Developer.
Galvanize, a provider of software engineering and data science, just announced the launch of a new collaboration with the VET TEC program. This includes remote learning online as well as campus training. Galvanize offers bootcamps in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Boulder, Austin, Seattle and New York.
Galvanize offers the Galvanize Data Science Immersive bootcamp and the Hack Reactor Software Engineering bootcamp across all of its campuses.
“Soldiers can transition to a tech position that involves coding by applying and attending one of our world-class coding bootcamps, whether it be our Hack Reactor software engineering immersive program or our data science immersive program,” said Bill Blackstone, EVP of operations at Galvanize. “For those completely new to coding, we provide prep courses that teach key concepts needed to succeed.”
While these programs can help veterans make the transition from military to civilian, veterans also have the right background to excel in software coding.
“Veterans know what it takes better than anyone to dedicate themselves to a goal and work hard to achieve that goal,” Blackstone told ClearanceJobs. “While we tend to believe our coding bootcamps are challenging, they pale in comparison to the real-life bootcamps they endured. The grit and determination of our veteran students is second to none making them excellent candidates in our programs.”