Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly joined Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in introducing a bill to improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP). This legislation would make it mandatory for service members who have deployed for 180 days or more to receive employment assistance, job training, and other transitional services provided by the Secretary of Labor.
"Too many of our service members are returning home without taking advantage of any of the transitional programs available to them in large part because outreach efforts are not up to par. Making the adjustment back into civilian life is hard enough as it is and doing so without any assistance only makes it harder," Donnelly said. "This bill will ensure that our returning service members receive the resources necessary to enable them to successfully reenter life as a civilian."
According to the Department of Defense, the primary goal of TAP is to prepare separating service members and their families with the skills, tools, and self-confidence necessary to ensure successful reentry into the nation's civilian workforce. Studies show service members who participate in TAP employment workshops find their first civilian job three weeks earlier than veterans who do not participate in TAP.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 11.2 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who are 18 and older are jobless while among non-veterans in the same age group the jobless rate is only 8.8 percent.
This past May, Donnelly hosted a hearing of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in South Bend to listen to local veterans and experts on transition assistance. During the hearing in South Bend, Lori Masapollo, whose husband was in the service, testified on the lack of transition assistance available to her husband upon his return home.
"I believe in making transition assistance mandatory for all returning service members and furthering efforts to reach out to them and their families. I applaud Congressman Donnelly for bringing this important matter to the forefront," she said.