DES MOINES, Iowa – U.S. Reps. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, and William Timmons, R-S.C., held a virtual roundtable on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, to discuss new bipartisan legislation, the Transition to Success Act, 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.
The roundtable was attended by members of the Iowa National Guard, South Carolina Department of Veterans Affairs, Home Forward Iowa, Bunker Labs, Code Platoon, and national employers that are supportive of the bill – including Amazon and Microsoft.
Axne and Timmons introduced the Transition to Success Act on Monday along with U.S. Reps. Mike Bost, R-Ill.,Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., Greg Murphy, R-N.C, and Max Rose, D-N.Y.
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,” Axne said in a released statement on Monday.
“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,” she added.
“For many servicemembers, the SkillBridge program has provided the training and resources to help return to civilian life,” Timmons stated. “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.”
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 percent reported that it took them more than six months after leaving their service to find a job, with 6 percent of those reporting that they did not find a job at all.