Sending Office: Honorable Stephanie N. Murphy
Endorsed by: Student Veterans of America (SVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the Millennial Action Project (MAP).
Cosponsors (7): Bergman, Sinema, Curbelo, Kilmer, Fitzpatrick, Gallego, Panetta
We respectfully invite you to cosponsor H.R. 4954, the Better Access to Technical Training, Learning, and Entrepreneurship
(BATTLE) for Servicemembers Act. This bill seeks to ensure that servicemembers who leave the military receive the specific training they need to successfully transition to civilian life, whether they choose to pursue higher education, a career in a technical
field, or entrepreneurship. You may find a recent Military Times article on H.R. 4954 here.
Under current law, the Department of Defense is required to ensure that eligible departing servicemembers participate in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). In response to this statutory requirement, DOD has published regulations and issued instructions
that require eligible servicemembers to complete TAP and require commanding officers to make certain that service members complete TAP. See 10 U.S.C. 1144 et seq.; 32 CFR pt. 88; and DOD Instruction 1332.35.
The content of TAP has evolved over the years, and continues to be the subject of vigorous debate. As presently designed, TAP’s mandatory “core curriculum” consists of a three-day employment workshop, conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor; six hours of
briefings on veterans’ benefits, conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and 8-10 hours of briefings on topics such as translating military skills to civilian jobs and preparing a financial plan, conducted by DOD.
Beyond this mandatory core curriculum, eligible servicemembers are also given the option to participate in a more specialized, two-day workshop in one (or more) of the following areas: (1) higher education, conducted by DOD; (2) technical and skills training,
conducted by the VA; or (3) entrepreneurship, conducted by the Small Business Administration. These workshops can be taken in classrooms or online.
In our view, the core curriculum is necessary, but not sufficient, to enable most departing servicemembers to successfully transition to the civilian world. We believe departing servicemembers should supplement the core curriculum with at least one of the
two-day workshops, so they can receive individualized training tailored to their specific career goals.
The problem is that these two-day workshops, precisely because they are optional, are rarely utilized. According to a report recently released by the Government Accountability Office, fewer than 15 percent
of eligible active-duty servicemembers participated in one of the two-day workshops in Fiscal Year 2016, including only 4 percent of eligible Marines. The participation rate for eligible National Guard and Reserve members is not available, and is presumably
even lower. In its report, GAO noted that—at four of the seven military installations it surveyed—commanders “were less inclined to allow servicemembers to attend theses classes because they were considered optional.”
Requiring transitioning servicemembers to opt in to a two-day workshop in practice signals to both servicemembers and their commanders that the workshops are superfluous—thereby discouraging participation. Our bill would amend federal law to generally require
the Secretary of Defense to ensure that all TAP-eligible servicemembers participate in the core curriculum and one of the two-day workshops. As with the TAP’s core curriculum requirement, participation in the two-day workshop could still be waived for certain
departing servicemembers, including servicemembers with specialized skills who are needed to support an imminent deployment. In addition, the bill would allow servicemembers who do not believe this additional training would be useful to them to elect, in
writing, to opt out of the training. However, the ultimate goal is to ensure that every servicemember who wants this additional training will receive it, and to boost the current 15 percent participation rate.
Our men and women in uniform serve and sacrifice for this nation. When they leave the military, it is our nation’s obligation to take all reasonable steps to help them succeed.
For more information on H.R. 4954, or if you would like to join as a cosponsor, please contact David Ogle (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Rep. Murphy’s office.
Stephanie Murphy Jack Bergman
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Kyrsten Sinema Carlos Curbelo
Member of Congress Member of Congress
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