Earlier this week, Representatives Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and Jacky Rosen (NV-03), introduced The IMPROVE Transition for Servicemembers Act, legislation that would improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for members of the Armed Forces
“We are thankful every day to our brave servicemembers who have dedicated their lives to protect our nation,” Curbelo said. “As they begin to transition away from their military careers, we must ensure they have the necessary resources for productive and prosperous civilian careers. I am proud to join my colleagues in supporting this bipartisan, bicameral legislation.”
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.
Curbelo has been a consistent advocate for helping our servicemen and women transition from the battlefield, co-sponsoring the bipartisan Better Access to Technical Training, Learning, and Entrepreneurship (BATTLE) for Servicemembers Act to better prepare departing servicemembers to attend college, learn a technical trade, or start a small business. The BATTLE Act was signed into law earlier this year.
The IMPROVE Transition for Servicemembers Act would reform TAP in the following ways:
- ENTREPRENEURSHIP, TECHNICAL, & EMPLOYMENT TRAINING: Making the currently-optional two-day specialized courses in entrepreneurship, career technical training, and higher education, with the addition of advanced employment assistance mandatory. This will boost participation in and access to those courses.
- BETTER INSTRUCTOR-SERVICEMEMBER RATIO: Requiring a ratio of at least one full-time, non-contract TAP employee per 250 transitioning members at an installation, in order to ensure that enough full-time personnel are available to meet servicemembers’ needs during transition.
- STARTING EARLIER: Setting earlier commencement and completion deadlines for TAP; no later than one year before separating from the military to ensure servicemembers have adequate time to maximize available services.
- SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR VETS: Urging DOD and the VA to enter into agreements with state veterans services agencies to develop a database of and connect servicemembers to supportive services and organizations in the communities to which they are relocating.
- IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION: Limiting to extreme circumstances only the use of online TAP curriculum as a substitute for in-person instruction.
- TRACKING PROGRESS: Requiring the establishment of both an electronic database to track individual progress in TAP and also an online portal for servicemembers to access information and resources related to their personal transition.
- SERVICEMEMBER FEEDBACK: Establishing pre-TAP, post-TAP and post-transition surveys in order to tailor servicemembers’ TAP counseling, solicit their feedback, and examine the effectiveness of TAP.
- RESOURCES FOR SERVICEMEMBERS: Requiring the education of servicemembers and military leadership on programs and resources for professional development, academic advancement, and post-service career preparation available to them during service.
- PROGRAM EVALUATION: Directing the Government Accountability Office to study the implementation of and access to TAP and other transition assistance programs at small and remote installations to assess any disparity in resources and access, compared to larger bases.