For funeral professionals who want to help veterans find a long-term career in deathcare, there’s a worthwhile opportunity to explore called the GI Bill apprenticeship program. For military veterans or those currently in the guard or reserve, this program provides a great hands-on education and training benefit to gain important skills that are necessary to succeed in the workplace.
A funeral service career can be closely aligned to the many skills that veterans have gained during their military service. Their commitment to getting the job done, organizational skills, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, and overall strength and rigor are admired by funeral businesses. In addition to applying those valuable skills they learned during their service, furthering their education and acquiring new talents makes veterans top-notch, coveted workers.
Merendino Cemetery Care in Linden, NJ has been utilizing the apprenticeship program for over 10 years with great success. They incorporated their Cemetery Manager position into the program which enabled their veteran hires to gain valuable work experience, learn about the funeral profession and earn extra money while training for a new career. The program is an excellent way for employers and veterans to partner together and create a long lasting mutually beneficial working relationship. It is also an excellent alternative for veterans looking for practical experience rather than attending college.
Qualified candidates may apply for the GI Bill while on active duty or after leaving the military. Employers must contact their local state certifying official to start the process, which includes creating a comprehensive training program that will teach the skills necessary for the veteran to become successful in their position. This may include classroom training in addition to hands-on experience. The program can help veterans transition into a civilian job by creating a mentoring environment. For Merendino Cemetery Care, the program changed their organizational culture to mission-focused, which was beneficial to the entire company.
Veterans can present the on-the-job training program to companies they are interested in working with or use the education benefit to join a funeral profession education program such as a mortuary college.
What benefits are available through the program?
Stipend for books and supplies: GI Bill recipients may receive up to $83 each month for books and supplies needed.
- Monthly housing allowance (MHA): A veteran apprentice can receive a tax-free monthly stipend while participating in a registered apprenticeship program. The MHA issued will be a percentage of the Department of Defense Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) as follows:
- 100% of the MHA during the first 6 months of training
- 80% during the second 6 months of training
- 60% during the third 6 months of training
- 40% during the fourth 6 months of training
- 20% during the remainder of training
Note: Veterans who are already participating in a funeral service apprenticeship program at the time of application may be eligible to receive up to 12 months of retroactive books and supplies stipends and monthly housing allowances. At the end of training, they will be certified in the funeral service profession.
How much do recipients get paid?
Montgomery GI Bill: Active Duty
With the Active Duty Montgomery GI Bill program, qualified recipients can receive $1,591.50 per month for the first six months of training; $1,167.10 for the second six months of training; and $742.70 for the remainder of training.
Montgomery GI Bill: Selected Reserve
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays GI Bill Selected Reserve participants on the following rates: $297.75 per month for the first six months of training; $218.35 for the second six months of training; and $138.95 for the remainder of training.
What types of jobs qualify one to receive this benefit?
To qualify for the GI Bill apprenticeship bill, a funeral service job must meet the following criteria:
- Must be supervised at least 50 percent of the time while on the job.
- Job training must lead to an entry-level position.
- Must be a full-time paid employee.
- All training must be documented and reported.
- Must have no previous experience in that field.
- Must be recently hired – within one or two years.
- The job must require at least six months training to be considered fully trained.
If you have questions about the GI Bill apprenticeship program or need help getting started, please visit the Department of Veteran Affairs website: gibill.custhelp.va.gov, call the Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551 (Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. CST), or contact Merendino Cemetery Care via their Facebook page.
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