MOAA’s latest testimony to lawmakers highlighted the importance of military transition programs and the need to treat combat-injured veterans fairly – not just for those leaving uniforms, but to maintain the strength of the all-volunteer force.
Retired and former servicemembers share their experiences with the next generation through a range of venues, whether in person at a family dinner or online via social media interactions. The support they get as they leave service and in the years after, including employment assistance, shapes those views and determines whether these veterans become assets to ongoing recruiting efforts.
“If we cannot support them post-service, they are unlikely to encourage others to follow in their footsteps,” MOAA wrote in testimony to a joint Oct. 18 hearing of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) and Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Success after service will look different for every servicemember,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), SVAC ranking member, said during the hearing. “And that is why we must make certain veterans are equipped with the knowledge and resources they need to thrive.”
The testimony outlined several MOAA priorities on this front, to include:
- Better awareness among commanders of the importance of Transition Assistance Program (TAP), to protect those taking TAP classes from being pulled away for other duties.
- Requirements for DoD to report reasons for servicemembers who don’t start TAP a year before leaving service.
- The creation of an abridged TAP to better address the needs of Reserve Component members.
- Tracking of military spouse TAP participation, and a stronger push to make spouses aware of programs available to them as their significant other nears the end of their service.
Along with TAP-related proposals, MOAA also stressed the need for passage of the Major Richard Star Act (H.R. 1282/S. 344), which would end an unjust offset faced by more than 50,000 combat-injured retirees who lose a dollar of DoD retirement pay for every dollar of VA disability pay received.
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The Star Act has been a key MOAA legislative priority not just because it continues a path to full concurrent receipt for those who’ve earned both retirement and disability compensation, but because combat-injured veterans deserve the full support they need to find success after service, no matter what form that success may take.
Many of these veterans “face a new economic reality – losing your chosen profession and team, with no chance of returning to work, and becoming a financial liability,” MOAA wrote in its testimony. “The unjust retirement offset adds insult to their injury.”
MOAA also stressed the important role veterans service organizations (VSOs) can play as part of the transition process, supplementing needed support programs for both servicemembers and their spouses. MOAA’s transition assistance runs the gamut, with online career resources including a veterans-focused job board, regular webinar offerings, and in-person networking events.
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“The separation process and the stability a veteran experiences post-service has direct implications on whether that veteran will recommend service to others,” the testimony concludes. “As we address the recruiting crisis, we must closely monitor TAP and ensure it is effective.”