Today, the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity held an oversight hearing entitled, "Examining the Re-Design of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP)." TAP has been a primary focus of the Committee's efforts this Congress to lower the veteran unemployment rate. Last November, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 was signed into law, which made TAP mandatory for all transitioning servicemembers.
At today's hearing, Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Marlin Stutzman, outlined the ways in which he believes TAP can be most successful in giving veterans the training they need. Rep. Stutzman emphasized the need to adopt a curriculum tailored to the individual servicemember's post-discharge intentions.
"A tailored model is the better approach. A program that provides a core curriculum that summarizes the various tracks as part of the mandatory coursework is, in my opinion, the best way to meet the needs of TAP participants," said Rep. Stutzman.
The Subcommittee also detailed the necessity of giving servicemembers the choice of which tracks they would like to pursue.
"Giving servicemembers the ability to choose the path that they want to take when going through TAP ensures that we are meeting their needs and preparing them for life after the military," said Stutzman. "Anything short of this would be a failure to provide veterans with the tools they need in the civilian world."
While the Subcommittee remains optimistic about the future of TAP and its potential impact on servicemembers returning to civilian life, some are troubled by the Department of Defense's (DoD) reservations regarding Congressional oversight.
"While I realize that what is now being taught under TAP 2.0 is in its formative stages, having DoD employees question Congress' oversight role is inappropriate," stated Stutzman. "I hope the confrontational attitude regarding our Constitutional responsibility ends. We are all working towards the same goal."