House Passes Key Veteran Transition Assistance Program Reform Bill
This week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5649, the Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William "Bill" Mulder (Ret.) Transition Improvement Act, which makes many improvements to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) that helps members of the Armed Forces transition back to civilian life. Included in this package is Rep. Al Lawson’s Veterans Armed for Success Act, which was introduced in October along with fellow Florida Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04). Their legislation provides grants to organizations that deliver veteran job readiness services, such as resume building and interview training, while connecting veterans with businesses in their community. These programs teach veterans the skills they need to successfully transition into the civilian workforce.
“As Americans, it is our responsibility to ensure that our brave men and women in uniform have the support they need to transition back into the civilian workforce,” Lawson said upon its passage. “H.R. 5649 supports our veterans by providing grants for programs that train them in job readiness and help them launch their careers. America is stronger and safer because of veterans, and I am proud to have worked on this legislation. I will continue to fight to create more opportunities for our nation’s veterans.”
“The men and women who have served our nation deserve all the resources they need to restart civilian life on the right path,” Rep. Rutherford said. “The U.S. military teaches service members many important skills that translate well into a variety of careers. But unfortunately, when they leave active duty, all too often they do not receive the job readiness they need to turn those skills into long-term, stable employment. We need to do more to help these men and women who have proven themselves to be reliable, dedicated, and hard-working. Many organizations throughout our country, like Operation New Uniform in Jacksonville, give veterans greater opportunities to transition into a career. We must fight for a better life for the people who fought for us, and this bill goes a long way to continue that fight. I thank my colleagues for supporting the men and women who served in our armed forces, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress to make further strides to helping our service members transition back into civilian life.”
Rep. Lawson remains committed to ensuring veterans receive access to the resources they need. These include employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, job training programs, access to health care, education benefits and affordable housing options. He has introduced a series of veteran-specific bills, including the Veterans Job Opportunity Act, which gives a small-business startup tax credit for veterans creating businesses in underserved communities. He has also cosponsored legislation that ensures a permanent allocation of benefits for surviving military spouses and another bill that provides grant opportunities for organizations to provide service dogs to veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, Rep. Lawson hosted a public bipartisan briefing on Capitol Hill to address the critical issue of mental health within the veteran community. Most recently, he introduced legislation for the creation of a VA Hospital in Jacksonville, which has one of the highest veteran populations in the nation. Next month, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Health Care Center in Tallahassee will be named after Marine Corps Sgt. Ernest “Boots” Thomas due to Rep. Lawson’s work.
H.R. 5649 Background Information:
- Expands and reassesses programs, like TAP, and the overall transition process for servicemembers to include more of a focus on career opportunities and entrepreneurship in order to better assist service members to prepare for civilian life and seek employment
- Implements the largest reorganization of TAP since 2011
- Includes Rep. Lawson’s Veterans Armed for Success Act, which authorizes a five-year, $10 million pilot program that would provide matching grant funds to community providers that offer wraparound transition services to veterans and transitioning servicemembers
- Requires a third-party entity to conduct an independent assessment of the TAP curriculum and require a separate longitudinal study on the efficacy of TAP and long-term outcomes for veterans.
- Ensures veterans and beneficiaries will continue to receive educational payments for as long as four months, if their institution closes because of a natural disaster such as a hurricane.
- Supported by the American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and Student Veterans of America