Rep. Axne Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Connect National Guard and Reservists with In-Demand Skills Training, Employment

July 27, 2021
Press Release

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) reintroduced bipartisan legislation she wrote last Congress that will 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 access to the SkillBridge program to active duty servicemembers transitioning out of their military service. 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, and their service should be afforded the same opportunities for success as other members of our armed forces. I’m proud to reintroduce the bipartisan legislation that the House passed last year to continue pushing this commonsense bill to invest in Iowa’s veterans. Employers want to hire our veterans, and veterans want employment where their skills and service is valued. This legislation helps make that happens.”

Last year, the House passed the Transition for Success Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, but the measure was not included in the final version of the legislative package.

The legislation was re-introduced today with the bipartisan support of Reps. William Timmons (R-SC), Conor Lamb (D-PA), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Mike Bost (R-IL), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Greg Murphy (R-NC), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Angie Craig (D-MN), and Michael San Nicolas (D-GU).

“For many servicemembers, the SkillBridge program has provided the training and resources they need to help transition to civilian life,” said Rep. Timmons. “Members of the National Guard and Reserves should also be able to access this critical service. Expanding this program will help ensure that each of our veterans has the opportunity to succeed after service. I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce this bipartisan legislation and provide all of our servicemembers with the skills they need for a successful transition.”

“The Transition for Success Act is a no-brainer,” said Rep. Tim Ryan. “This bipartisan and zero-cost bill will allow the National Guard and Reserve to participate in SkillBridge-a highly successful civilian skills training program. We owe our transitioning service members, regardless of component, the opportunity to succeed.”

“The SkillBridge program has been a tremendous resource for our active duty service members. I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of this bipartisan measure that would extend this outstanding program to our Reserves and National Guardsmen,” said Rep. Greg 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. Their performance has been excellent!  This legislation would greatly help our reserve component military members who have slipped through the cracks after they complete their service to our country by helping them find a meaningful career via the SkillBridge program. This is the least we can do to show our appreciation to them and their families.”

“Americans that serve in our National Guard and Reserves, who wear the uniform and protect our nation, deserve a rewarding career,” said Rep. Andy Kim. “We owe our Reservists and National Guard so much, especially after the service many of them gave this past year to protect our Capitol and assist in the crucial distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. I am happy to join Congresswoman Axne who is leading this vital bipartisan effort to help prepare our servicemembers for their transition back into the civilian workforce.”

“The Department of Defense’s SkillBridge Program provides vitally important job training to servicemembers as they begin the transition to civilian life,” said Rep. Bost. “However, under current law, only those on active duty are eligible, which means many National Guard and Reserve members are unable to participate. Expanding the SkillBridge Program will help ensure that these military men and women can receive the support they need to gain a new skillset and successfully transition to civilian life.”

“Each and every one of our nation’s Veterans deserve access to training and resources when returning to civilian life, including members of the Minnesota National Guard and Reserves who stepped up at home or overseas when we needed them most,” said Representative Craig. “I’m proud to help introduce the bipartisan Transition for Success Act to extend access to the successful SkillBridge program to members of the National Guard and Reserves when they depart military service.”

“Our National Guard service members have dedicated their lives to protecting our nation, and it is our responsibility to make sure they have a smooth transition to civilian life after service,” said Congressman Armstrong. “Expanding the SkillBridge Program will help more Guardsmen access valuable training programs, setting them up for fulfilling careers.”

“Virginia’s National Guard and Reserve members bring tremendous skills, work ethic, and dedication to their civilian jobs and their military service — but under current law, they don’t have full access to the Skillbridge program, which connects returning servicemembers to in-demand career paths. This unnecessary red tape is preventing well-qualified job applicants from taking part in the program — and we need to take commonsense steps to make sure Skillbridge is available to more of our men and women in uniform,” said Rep. Spanberger. “I am proud to help lead the introduction of this bipartisan bill, because strengthening workforce development opportunities for our National Guard and Reserve members should be a top priority. By expanding Skillbridge eligibility, we can combat unemployment, align veterans with jobs that match their skills, and fill open positions throughout our economy while recognizing the immense service of our Guard and Reserve members at home and abroad.”

The Department of Defense projects that the legislation would lead to a 30% increase in participation in the SkillBridge program. In 2019, only 8,600 servicemembers utilized the program.

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 (UWUA).

The bill is also endorsed by nationally respected veterans organizations, including National Guard Association of the U.S. (NGAUS), Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the U.S. (EANGUS), Veterans for Common Sense, and more.

"As a provider, we have seen a significant increase in interest for in-demand job training over the last year. Expanding Skillbridge to include members of our Guard and Reserve will greatly improve their ability to access this training sooner,” said Rodrigo Levy, Executive Director of Code Platoon. “Not only will this 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."

“We are grateful to Rep. Axne for her leadership in introducing the Transition for Success Act, which importantly would expand eligibility for the Skillbridge military-to-civilian employment transition program to all members of the Reserves and National Guard.  We strongly support this commonsense measure to equitably assist all our military service members, and we are encouraged by the strong support for this bill that Rep. Axne has justifiably earned from key veterans and military organizations, businesses and industries, and a growing list of bipartisan supporters in Congress,” said Anthony Hardie, Director and National Chair of Veterans for Common Sense.

“The Utility Workers Union of American (UWUA) is proud to support the Transition for Success Act and its expansion of the DOD Skillbridge program to all members of the National Guard and Reserve. Since the inception of the Utility Workers Military Assistance Program (UMAP) in 2012, the UWUA has recognized the value of placing veterans and active service members through successful training-to-placement programs. America is in critical need of filling skill gaps with a committed, quality workforce. Who better to fill those gaps than those who have honorably worn the uniform and seek to continue in service to their country," said Richard Passarelli, UWUA National Director Veterans Affairs and Chairman of AFL-CIO Union Veterans Workforce Committee.

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.