U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., today introduced a bipartisan bill to help the more than 200,000 servicemembers who leave the military each year successfully transition to civilian life and provide for their families. The Better Access to Technical Training, Learning, and Entrepreneurship (BATTLE) for Servicemembers Act will better prepare departing servicemembers to attend college, learn a technical trade, or start a small business. Congressman Jack Bergman, R-Mich., Congressman Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., are helping to introduce the bill with Murphy. Bergman is a retired three-star Marine Corps general, and Curbelo and Sinema serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Future Caucus, of which Murphy is a vice-chair. The Future Caucus promotes policies to empower younger generations, including young men and women in the military.
“As a nation, it’s our responsibility to help our servicemembers succeed, whether on the battlefield or in the workforce,” said Murphy. “America’s armed forces produce some of the most talented, well-trained, and tenacious individuals in the world, but too many of these warriors struggle to transition to civilian life. I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to better prepare our servicemembers to succeed in whatever civilian career they pursue following their military service.”
Currently, the Department of Defense (DOD) requires all departing servicemembers to complete the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which offers a required core curriculum designed to help them transition to civilian life. In addition, departing servicemembers currently have the option to participate in a specialized two-day workshop in one of the following areas:
- higher education, conducted by DOD;
- technical and skills training, conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs; or,
- entrepreneurship, conducted by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, fewer than 15 percent of eligible active-duty servicemembers participated in one of these two-day workshops in Fiscal Year 2016, including only 4 percent of eligible Marines. Murphy’s BATTLE for Servicemembers Act will boost participation in the training by requiring departing servicemembers to opt out of this specialized training rather than opt in.
Click here to watch Murphy’s floor speech introducing her bill. Click here for the full text of the speech.
“When transitioning back to civilian life, our nation’s servicemen and women offer employers an unparalleled skill set rooted in rigor and integrity. DOD has long recognized the value in providing targeted resources through the Transition Assistance Program, which includes employment advising, financial planning, and benefits management,” said Bergman. “Unfortunately, TAP often goes unused and represents a missed opportunity for more robust and individualized training. The BATTLE for Servicemembers Act works to fill this gap by adding two-day, specialized workshops to the core curriculum of TAP, while maintaining the choice and flexibility separating servicemembers deserve.”
“We owe it to our servicemembers, and their families, to better help them transition back to the civilian job market,” said Curbelo. “We have a variety of programs available, though too many of these brave men and women are not aware they exist. While much work must still be done to help ensure they have successful and productive post-military careers, this legislation is a positive step forward in achieving those goals.”
“Arizona veterans have sacrificed to defend our country and now it’s our responsibility to prepare them for success,” said Sinema. “That’s why I am working across the aisle to improve access to educational programs for veterans and servicemembers. This bill furthers our commitment to veterans by giving Arizona’s bravest men and women the tools to launch rewarding careers and build successful businesses when they transition to civilian life.”
Numerous veterans organizations, along with organizations that advocate for young Americans, have endorsed The BATTLE for Servicemembers Act, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Student Veterans of America (SVA), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and the Millennial Action Project (MAP).
Carlos Fuentes, Legislative Director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said: “Transition out of the military and into civilian life can be a difficult adjustment for servicemembers. The VFW views the TAP program as an integral part of preparing these young men and women for the next step in life. Making supplemental TAP classes mandatory for all transitioning servicemembers would ensure they obtain skills to take full advantage of the benefits and services they have earned. The VFW lauds Representative Murphy for her leadership on this important issue.”
Jared Lyon, President & CEO of Student Veterans of America, which represents over 700,000 student veterans in nearly 1,500 chapters located at colleges and universities nationwide, said: “SVA greatly appreciates the work of Congresswoman Murphy and that of her colleagues on this important proposal that will more broadly provide transitioning servicemembers with information related to higher education, entrepreneurship, and technical career opportunities.”
Steven Olikara, Millennial Action Project President and Founder, said: “Four out of five active-duty servicemembers are age 35 or younger. With this new generation of returning servicemembers comes a responsibility to ensure they have the specialized training to seize opportunities in the new economy—and that should transcend partisan divisions. I'm thrilled to see our Congressional Future Caucus leadership spearhead a bipartisan solution that empowers young servicemembers in their transition to a vibrant civilian life.”