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36,000 veterans on track to get high-demand education, training

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it has approved more than 36,000 applications for a training and education program designed for unemployed veterans.

Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP) was created as part of the Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 and provides up to 12 months of training in more than 200 jobs skills.

Veterans who receive the benefit must enroll in a VA-approved program at a community college or technical school and train for a high-demand occupation. The Department of Labor has defined those fields to include positions like petroleum technician, paralegal, preschool teacher, radiation therapist and locomotive engineer.

VA has received 51,000 applications and approved 36,000; the program's goal is to train 99,000 veterans in the next two years.

Veterans who have been approved for VRAP are encouraged to enroll as soon as possible to start training full-time in a VA-approved program of study offered by a community college or technical school.  The program of study must lead to an associate degree, non-college degree, or certificate for a high-demand occupation as defined by DOL.

“The tremendous response illustrates how important this program is in providing veterans the opportunity to find employment in a high-demand field,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki, in a statement released by the agency.

To be eligible for the program, a veteran must be between 35 and 60, unemployed and have received an honorable discharge, among other requirements.

Rebecca Ruiz is a reporter at NBC News. Follow her on Twitter here.

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