The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairwoman is set to introduce on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, a bill that would require separating service members to attend the Transition Assistance Program, more frequently known amongst service members and veterans as “TAPs.” As it stands today, the TAPs class is a voluntary program meant to assist service members in achieving employment post military service. The course currently offers guidance in resumé writing, job-search techniques and interview preparation for departing Enlisted and Officer service men and women.
TAPs is available to all departing service members, discharged other than dishonorably. Unfortunately, most service members are unaware of this opportunity. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is proposing to make the program mandatory. It appears the “Hiring Heroes” bill would maintain the same TAPs course format; there is no indication that the chairwoman is seeking any changes to what is offered. A substantial change to the program in general, however, is the government involvement in follow up.
Sen. Murray is critical of the government’s lack of assistance once service men and women separate from active duty. While the TAPs program is a step in the right direction, there is no follow up to continue to assist the veteran. It is important to note that there are programs available to assist veterans in obtaining employment after they have separated, if they ask for assistance. But again, according to Sen. Murray, many veterans are unaware of these services. The Hiring Heroes bill would require the government to contact veterans and notify them of these services while following up on their progress.
Additional programs would be available for disabled veterans as well, providing an additional 24 months of vocational rehabilitation and employment services, if the bill is passed.
To find out more information about the proposed bill, visit: http://murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=0ea542fe-c8c9-4d9a-ae4d-bc67ffa0f909To find out more information about current Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment services, visit: http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/