May 21, 2019

Crapo, Stabenow Legislation Would Improve Servicemember Transition to Civilian Life

Senator Crapo reintroduces IMPROVE Act to provide additional resources for active military returning to civilian life

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) today reintroduced the bipartisan Improving Preparation and Resources for Occupational, Vocational, and Educational (IMPROVE) Transition for Servicemembers Act (S. 1555).  The IMPROVE Act would make reforms to the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), a multiagency program responsible for providing pre-separation counseling, training and assistance to servicemembers returning to civilian live and their families.  S. 1555 is co-sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado). 

“When a veteran transitions to civilian life after the military, he or she deserves readily-available information to help make that transition as seamless as possible,” said Senator Crapo.  “Our bill ensures that our nation’s veterans and their families have access to adequate personalized resources, training and counseling needed to succeed and pursue their ambitions after their service to our country.  It is imperative we have the tools available for separating servicemembers to reach their boundless potential by meeting their needs at this critical juncture of their transition.” 

“Our men and women in uniform who fought for us overseas shouldn’t have to fight to get the services they need here at home,” said Senator Stabenow.  “Making sure our veterans have the services they need when they transition to civilian life is one of the top concerns I hear about from veterans, and this legislation would be an important step forward in addressing this need.”  

Drawing directly from interviews with servicemembers, veterans, military leadership, transition counselors, employers and experts, S. 1555 includes several reforms, including: 

  • Instating earlier commencement and completion deadlines for participation in TAP to ensure servicemembers have adequate time to maximize available services;
  • Maximizing in-person rather than online participation in TAP;
  • Directing the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs 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;
  • Making currently-optional 2-day specialized courses in entrepreneurship, career technical training, and higher education, with the addition of advanced employment assistance, mandatory curriculum in order to boost participation in and access to those courses;
  • Requiring a ratio of at least one full-time or full-time equivalent TAP employee per 250 transitioning members and their spouses at an installation to ensure enough full-time personnel are available to meet servicemembers’ needs during transition;
  • Requiring the creation of an electronic database to track individual progress in TAP and an online portal for servicemembers to access information and resources related to their personal transition;
  • Establishing post-TAP and post-transition surveys in order to assess satisfaction with and effectiveness of TAP;
  • Incorporating support for TAP and other transition-related programs into DOD command climate assessments and requiring new commanders receive information about transition and career-related programs unique to their installations;
  • Ensuring servicemembers receive regular training at various touchpoints in their careers on career readiness, professional development, and transition-related programs available to them during their service as part of their Military Life Cycle; and
  • Directing the Government Accountability Office to study access to TAP and other transition assistance programs at small and remote bases to assess any disparity in resources and access compared to larger bases. 

The legislation further acknowledges the competing pressures on the Armed Forces in carrying out their essential function to defend the nation, while affirming the importance of an effective transition program to improving the lives and welfare of servicemembers and thereby the health and mission of the U.S. military overall.  

S. 1555 complements Senator Crapo’s work in establishing the Idaho Veterans Education and Workforce Development Coalition, which aims to increase opportunities for jobs and education for veterans in the state.  The coalition comprised of business, industry and governmental entities has helped to expand on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs in Idaho for veterans; trained over 50 Idaho businesses in how to recruit and support veteran employees; and remains active in ongoing efforts to improve the transfer and applicability of military skills to civilian occupations and educational degrees.  

Text of the measure can be found here, a one-pager of the legislation can be found here and a section-by-section breakdown can be found here

# # #