This past Friday, Congressman Joe Donnelly hosted a field hearing of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, on which he sits, at Indiana University South Bend to discuss the effectiveness of transition assistance available to members of the National Guard and Reserves. The hearing was run by Chairwoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) and included four panels of witnesses.
"I asked for a hearing to be held in north central Indiana because I wanted to highlight how important it is to give our veterans the help they need to transition back into civilian life," Donnelly said. "Indiana has the fourth largest National Guard in the country, and many members have served two, three and even four tours of duty in Iraq. This hearing was an opportunity for National Guard and Reserve members and their families to tell their stories and for state and national representatives to describe their Transition Assistance programs. By letting us know how existing services can be improved, we can better serve our veterans as they return home from service."
Transition Assistance (TA) is a broad term referring to programs offered to service members and their families to aid in their successful return to civilian life. It is a partnership of the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Labor (DoL), and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The four panels that testified at the hearing included representatives from the Indiana National Guard, state and national veterans service organizations like the American Legion, and federal agencies like the DoL, DoD, and VA. National Guard and Reserve members and their spouses also testified by providing accounts of their personal experiences with TA.
"While most witnesses testified that TA for servicemen and women is improving, they all agreed that more needs to be done for members of the National Guard and Reserves," Donnelly said. "I heard from many of them that the services are there, but there is a disconnect when it comes to publicizing the information about the services."
Donnelly plans on following up with many of the organizations that testified to make sure progress is made to improve TA for National Guard and Reserve members.