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Lawmakers consider expanding the Defense Department's Transition Assistance Program

Many military veterans continue to struggle making the transition to civilian life.
Credit: Stephen Wozy, 13News Now

WASHINGTON — Roughly 200,000 military members retire or separate from the armed services every year, according to the Department of Labor.

For many vets, it's a struggle.

"When you're faced with a drastic change like being released from service, you've got a lot of unknowns," said Tammy Johnson, Disabled American Veterans Alabama Legislative Chairman, testifying Monday before the House Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee.

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That panel was exploring ways to ensure the successful transition from military to civilian life.

"Transitioning out of the military goes far beyond just a few days of technicalities, seminars, and paperwork. It is a years-long journey that requires continual adapting and readjusting to civilian life," said Rep Mike Levin (D-California), the subcommittee's chairman.

There is some good news. According to data released in early July by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for all veterans in America in June was 2.7%.

That's the first time it's been that low since early 2019, before the pandemic.

But, this issue is about more than just finding a job, Levin said.

"Service members must navigate a new civilian identity and manage the mental and emotional changes that result from leaving the military."

One idea to emerge from Monday's hearing was to expand the Defense Department Transition Assistance Program (TAP), which is currently only available within 24 months of a service member's retirement or discharge, and, to make it available throughout troops' entire careers.

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