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Bill Would Make New Transition Assistance Program

Washington Report

National Guardsmen and Reservists would have their own transition assistance program "counseling pathway" when returning home from active duty under bipartisan legislation introduced May 10.

Currently, Guardsmen and Reservists must transition through a program designed primarily to assist those leaving military service.

The program includes services that only separating or retiring active-component personnel require. It also lacks some of the assistance Guardsmen and Reservists need when returning back to their regular drilling status.

NGAUS believes this process wastes time and resources while poorly serving Guardsmen and Reservists. Many Guardsmen and Reservists go through TAP repeatedly during their careers.

The Improving TAP for Guard and Reserve Servicemembers Act would create a transition assistance pathway focused on the reserve component that would better serve the unique needs of Guardsmen and Reservists.

For example, this new track would clarify which Department of Veterans Affairs health care and retirement benefits are available to Guardsmen and Reservists rather than their full-time active-duty counterparts.

Reps. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., and Jennifer McClellan, D-Va., introduced the legislation.

Both lawmakers are members of the House Armed Services Committee. Kelly is also a Mississippi Army Guard major general and the co-chairman of the House National Guard and Reserve Caucus.

"Through the introduction of this crucial bill, we pave a counseling pathway in the transition assistance program, ensuring our Reserve Component members have the support they need to navigate their transition with confidence and clarity," Kelly said. "It's our duty to empower those who serve to thrive beyond their military service."

McClellan added that, "the Improving TAP for Guard and Reserve Servicemembers Act would create a Guard and Reserve-specific pathway that helps address the unique challenges the reserve components of our armed forces face, including differences in employment training needs and VA benefits and resources eligibility."

The bill's initial co-sponsors include Reps. Julia Brownley, D-Calif.; Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C.; Shri Thanedar, D-Mich.; Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Abigail Spanberger, D-Va.; Jennifer Wexton, D-Va.; Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; and Derrick Van Orden, R- Wis.

Multiple military and veterans service organizations endorsed the legislation, including NGAUS.

"Reserve Component members make up 52% of the nation's fighting force and they deserve a transition assistance program that fits their needs," said retired Maj. Gen. Francis M. McGinn, the NGAUS president.

McGinn stressed the importance of a Guard and Reserve track for transition assistance when he testified to a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs committees in March.

The full text of the bill is available here.

— By John Goheen