How the GI Bill Apprenticeship Program Can Help You Excel in the Funeral Service Profession

Veterans make outstanding funeral service professionals for many reasons. Your 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 you learned during your service, furthering your education and acquiring new talents makes you a top-notch, coveted worker.

If you are a military veteran or currently in the guard or reserve, the GI Bill apprenticeship program could be a good fit for you. The program is a great hands-on education and training benefit to help you gain a variety of important skills that are necessary to succeed in the workplace.

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. It 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.

You may apply for the GI Bill while on active duty or after leaving the military. The employer 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 you 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.

You can present the On-the Job training program to a company you are interested in working with or use the education benefit to join a funeral profession education program such as a mortuary college. Funeral professionals are anxious to bring your skills and knowledge to their organization.

What benefits are available through the program?

  1. Stipend for books and supplies: GI Bill recipients may receive up to $83 each month for books and supplies needed.
  2. 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 your training, you will be certified in the funeral service profession.

How much can I get paid?

Montgomery GI Bill: Active Duty
With the Active-Duty Montgomery GI Bill program, you 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 me to receive this benefit?
To qualify for the GI Bill apprenticeship bill, your funeral service job must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must be supervised at least 50 percent of the time while on the job.
  2. Job training must lead to an entry-level position.
  3. You must be a full-time paid employee.
  4. Your training must be documented and reported.
  5. You cannot have previous experience in that field.
  6. You must be recently hired – within one or two years.
  7. 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, visit the Department of Veteran Affairs website, call the Education Call Center at 1-888-442-4551 (Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. CST), or follow Merendino Cemetery Care on Facebook.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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