According to the May 11, 2011 issue of the Washington Post a bill has been introduced called the “Hiring Heroes Act of 2011” which would, among other things, make the Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, mandatory for departing military members.
The sponsor for the bill is Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington. Her web site summarizes the specifics of the bill like this:
- Modifies federal hiring practices to encourage the hiring of separating servicemembers and would allow servicemembers to begin the federal employment hiring process prior to separation;
- Makes participation in the Transition Assistance Program mandatory for separating servicemembers;
- Requires that each servicemember receive an individualized assessment of jobs they may qualify for when they participate in the Transition Assistance Program;
- Requires DoL to engage with each veteran on a periodic basis to determine whether the veteran is employed or whether the veteran might be interested in further assistance;
- Continues a program that provides rehabilitation and vocational benefits to severely wounded members of the armed forces;
- Provides up to an additional 24 months of vocational rehabilitation and employment services to veterans who have exhausted both these benefits and state-provided unemployment benefits;
- Requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to engage with each veteran who has participated in its Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program periodically to determine whether the veteran is employed.
- Creates a competitive grant program for nonprofit organizations that provide mentorship and job training programs that are designed to lead to job placements;
- Requires the Department of Defense (DoD), DoL, and VA to jointly contract for a study to identify the equivalencies between certain military occupational specialty (MOS)-related skills and civilian employment;
- Allows DoD to create a pilot program to provide paid work experience with civilian employees and contractors to facilitate the transition for servicemembers that are 180 days from separating;
- Requires DoL, DoD, and VA collaboration to eliminate barriers between military training and civilian licensure or credentialing for several military occupational specialties.
Service members like pilots, electricians, plumbers, and mechanics might have the opportunity to earn their civilian credentials while learning their trade on active duty. This could be worth thousands of dollars in training, and provide for significant opportunities for employment following military service.
The compulsory TAP is a positive step, since military commanders will be required to free their departing members time to participate. Most of the reports I hear about the program are positive, and when I complete the program, I’ll give you a follow up report.
Congressional bills come and go. This one is supported by many veterans groups, including the American Legion who have significant influence. The effort is timely following the successful raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound and the successes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Continue to monitor this site and the news on this bill, and I recommend that you contact your elected officials to support this effort.