A temporary training and employment program that connects veterans with meaningful work in the technology sector is set to expire at the end of 2023, but a bill in Congress would set the tremendously successful education benefit in stone.
H.R. 1669, the VET-TEC Authorization Act of 2023, would permanently fund the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET TEC) program, which trains veterans in several high-demand technology fields, such as information technology, software development, cybersecurity and data science.
“The VET-TEC training program has empowered thousands of our veterans in their transition from the battlefield to the workforce,” said Rep. Juan Ciscomani of Arizona, who introduced the legislation with Rep. Ro Khanna of California. “Not only does it create highly skilled workers for a rapidly changing industry, but it gives our veterans the dignity of a successful, fulfilling career.”
Programs range from six to 28 weeks and equip veterans with the skills needed to enter the technology labor market competitively. To be eligible, veterans must have at least one day in GI Bill benefits and be accepted into a VA-approved training provider.
“Every American should be able to participate in the digital revolution,” added Khanna. “Our veterans have a unique set of experiences and skills to offer, and we need to ensure there’s a permanent pipeline to bring those future innovators into our 21st-century workforce.”
Like the GI Bill, VET TEC student veterans receive tuition if enrolled full-time in one of the 30 approved training providers and a housing stipend equal to the monthly military housing allowance for an E-5.
Eleven of the approved programs are considered “preferred” since the education institution agrees to refund tuition and fees if a student “doesn’t find meaningful employment” within six months of graduation.
The bill has also been praised by leadership in the House of Representatives.
“Arming our nation’s heroes with technological skills they can use after they transition to the civilian sector is one of the most beneficial ways we can repay our profound debt of gratitude for their service,” said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. “As the sponsor of the original VET-TEC Act signed into law in 2017, I am pleased to see continued bipartisan support for this program.”
Rep. Mike Bost of Illinois, House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman and an original sponsor of the bill along with Khanna, praised VET-TEC, adding that thousands of veterans have been trained with an impressive 84% graduation rate.
VET TEC was launched as a five-year pilot program in 2019 under the DAV-supported Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the “Forever GI Bill.” Eligibility has since expanded to include active-duty service members within 180 days of separating from the military.
“VET TEC has been a resounding success for veterans seeking highly in-demand and lucrative careers,” said DAV National Legislative Director Joy Ilem. “Making this program permanent not only helps veterans realize the American dream they defended but will fill crucial job openings as technology becomes even more entwined with the economy.”
Follow along with updates to this and other legislation affecting veterans and their families by joining DAV CAN (Commander’s Action Network) at davcan.org