Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA), which included several provisions authored by U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla. Notably, the NDAA contained the core of a bipartisan bill authored by Murphy to help the nearly 250,000 servicemembers who leave the military each year make a successful transition to civilian life. Murphy was able to effectively advocate for her provisions in the bill as a member of the conference committee responsible for reconciling the differences between the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. She was the first freshman Democratic Member of the House Armed Services Committee appointed to the NDAA conference committee in nearly 20 years. The Senate will consider the NDAA next and, if approved, it will be sent to the President for his signature.
This will be the 13th Murphy-led measure to become law since she took office in January 2017. Another 12 measures have been approved by the House.
“Servicemembers bravely and selflessly fight to keep our nation safe, which is why Congress must ensure they have the tools they need to succeed—both on the battlefield and after they leave the service,” Murphy said. “Our military produces remarkably talented and well-trained individuals, but too many of these warriors struggle to transition to the civilian world. That’s why I am so pleased that my bipartisan initiative to help departing servicemembers prepare for life after the military was included in this year’s defense authorization bill.”
All departing servicemembers are currently required to participate in the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which prepares servicemembers for life after the military by providing them courses on financial management, VA benefits, and job-searching skills. The provision spearheaded by Murphy will ensure servicemembers can also take workshops that are tailored to the servicemember’s individual goals. Specifically, the provision ensures that servicemembers will have the option to attend at least one specialized, two-day workshop on (1) accessing higher education, (2) career and technical training, or (3) entrepreneurship. These targeted courses are optional under current law, and as a result, few servicemembers can take advantage of them. Murphy’s provision will lead to increased participation in these courses by adding them to TAP’s mandatory curriculum, so that more men and women in our military will be better prepared to make a successful transition to civilian life.
This provision is rooted in a bipartisan bill Murphy introduced in February along with U.S. Representative Jack Bergman, R-Mich., a retired three-star Marine Corps General. Murphy filed this bill, H.R. 4954, the BATTLE for Servicemembers Act, after meeting with her veteran advisory board, which raised concerns regarding the lack of adequate preparation servicemembers receive before leaving active duty. Several influential veterans service organizations endorsed Murphy’s bill, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Student Veterans of America, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Senators Mike Rounds, R-N.D., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio subsequently introduced Murphy’s bill in the Senate.
In addition to her TAP provision, Murphy worked successfully to include a number of other provisions in the NDAA, including:
- the complete text of her bill, H.R. 2056, to enable more aspiring and existing small business owners to obtain low-interest microloans;
- the core of her bill, H.R.5126, to protect Israel against rocket and missile threats;
- a provision she co-led with Congressman Darren Soto, D-Fla., to ensure universities like the University of Central Florida can provide trauma treatment to servicemembers across the country who suffer from PTSD; and,
- multiple provisions to strengthen Orlando’s world-leading modeling, simulation, and training community and its cyber community.
For a detailed list of the provisions Murphy secured in the FY19 NDAA, click here.