Rep. Axne, Bipartisan Colleagues Unveil Bill to Connect National Guard and Reservists with Transitional Skills Training and Employment

July 13, 2020
Press Release
Transition for Success Act opens Department of Defense’s SkillBridge Program to Guard and Reserve members to aid with civilian job placement

Today, Reps. Cindy Axne (IA-03), William Timmons (SC-04), Mike Bost (IL-12), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Greg Murphy (NC-03), and Max Rose (NY-11) unveiled bipartisan legislation to provide in-demand skills training and employment assistance to members of National Guard and Reserve who are within 180 days of transitioning into civilian life.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Defense offers active duty servicemembers transitioning out of their military service access to the SkillBridge program. SkillBridge connects departing servicemembers to in-demand skills training and prospective employers who are ready to hire. The Transition for Success Act would expand access to the SkillBridge program by allowing all National Guard and Reserve servicemembers to participate in the program upon departing military service.

“The SkillBridge program has been successful at connecting our veterans to highly skilled civilian jobs after their service. It’s only fair that we offer this same option to those who have chosen to serve our country in a reservist role or as members of the National Guard,” said Rep. Axne. “The men and women of the Iowa National Guard protect our communities every single day. Many of them have deployed overseas multiple times and now they are serving us during this coronavirus pandemic. Their service should be afforded the same gratitude and opportunities for successful growth as other members of our armed forces. Employers want to hire our veterans, and veterans want employment where their skills and service is valued. This legislation is making sure that happens.”

“For many servicemembers, the SkillBridge program has provided the training and resources to help return to civilian life,” said Rep. Timmons. “Our legislation expands this critical program to Reservists and Guard members so that each of our veterans has the opportunity to succeed after service. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleagues to ensure all of our servicemembers have the skills they need to transition.”

“Our military men and women have sacrificed so much for our nation, and it is our job to help them return to civilian life after their service,” said Rep. Bost. “However, many National Guard and Reserve members are unable to participate in crucial job training programs because they are not on active duty during their last months of service. Expanding the SkillBridge Program will help ensure that these servicemembers have the tools and training they need to successfully transition to civilian life once they return home.”

“The SkillBridge program has been a tremendous resource for our service members. I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of this measure that would extend it to Reserves and National Guardsmen,” said Rep. Murphy. “Our military could not operate in as many places in the world the way it does now without the flexibility that our Reserves and National Guardsmen provide. This legislation would greatly help those military members who have slipped through the cracks after they complete their service to our country by helping them find a meaningful career. This is the least we can do to show our appreciation to them and their families.”

“Our National Guardsmen and women and reserve servicemembers serve our country valiantly and they deserve access to crucial transition programs like SkillBridge,” said Rep. Brindisi. “Our military does a great job turning civilians into soldiers, but we need to do a better job of helping our veterans, including our National Guard members and reservists, transition back to civilian life. This bipartisan legislation will help make sure all of our Veterans have the resources they need to be successful.”

“National Guard and Reserve Soldiers go through the same training and deploy to the same combat zones as their active duty compatriots,” said Rep. Rose. “It’s only fair these Soldiers have access to the same opportunities as they transition out of their military service and on to the next phase of their lives.”

The Department of Defense projects that the legislation would lead to a 30% increase in participation in the SkillBridge program. Last year, only 8,600 servicemembers utilized the program.

A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center last year found that only one in four veterans said they had a civilian job lined up after they left the military.

Among post-9/11 veterans, 43% reported that it took them more than six months after leaving their service to find a job, with 6% of those reporting that they did not find a job at all.

Supporters:

The legislation has the endorsement of key employers that partner with the SkillBridge program, including Microsoft, Amazon, the National Association of Homebuilders, and the Utility Workers Union of America.

“As troops seek opportunities outside the military, they look for a hand up not a handout. The SkillBridge program applies that thinking by connecting individuals directly with training and employment opportunities so they don’t experience a lapse in employment,” Richard Passarelli, Director Of Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development, Utility Workers Union Of America (UWUA). “Thank you to Rep. Axne for supporting this important program and for working tirelessly to expand opportunities for veterans.”

The bill is also backed by the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), Reserve Officers Assocation (ROA), Fleet Reserve Association (FRA), Military Veterans Advocacy (MVA), Code Platoon, Veterans for Common Sense, and Troops into Transportation.

“Having witnessed the success of SkillBridge firsthand (as a provider), this is an excellent opportunity to provide in-demand job training for members of our Guard and Reserve during their service, greatly improving their employability earlier in their careers,” Rod Levy, Executive Director of Code Platoon. “Not only will this new bill reduce unemployment for our Guard and Reserve, but it will increase participation in SkillBridge, draw in more training providers and hiring companies, ultimately strengthening SkillBridge overall.” 

“The SkillBridge program is a critical component in helping our troops successfully transition from military service to quickly excel in the civilian workforce. However, there is a very large gap in coverage of this important program – only our active duty troops are eligible, but not our Guard and Reserve members, many of whom have had long, high-risk overseas deployments,” Anthony Hardie, National Chair and Director of Veterans for Common Sense. “The Transition for Success Act would fill a critical gap in ensuring that all our service members are eligible for this unique and invaluable military-to-civilian workforce transition program. Veterans for Common Sense is in strong support of the Transition for Success Act. We are deeply grateful for Rep. Axne's leadership in authoring and advancing this legislation.”

“This is an exciting step in ensuring our National Guard and Reserve members will have better access to these important Employment & Job training Programs. The CDL School is proud to support this legislation,said Al Hanley, Division President of The CDL Schools/Troops in Transportation.

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