Opening Statement of Hon. Marlin A. Stutzman, Chairman, Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity
The topic of this morning’s hearing is the transition assistance program (TAP) and VetSuccess on Campus program. TAP is a program that is supposed to help discharging veterans transition from the military into civilian careers. VA also has a portion of TAP where they educate the servicemembers on the multitude of services that are available to them once they become veterans.
My staff recently completed visits to four TAP sites in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina and I believe Mr. Braley’s staff has just visited several VetSuccess on Campus sites out west.
I am going to yield to the distinguished Ranking Member in a moment to review his staff’s visits, but I believe it is fair to say that the TAP site visits resulted in a mixed bag of observations.
On the plus side, staff observed that, with one minor exception, nearly all the instructors’ presentations were highly professional. The instructors had a level of energy and instructional techniques that were a pleasure to watch and the staff was encouraged by their for their enthusiasm and professionalism.
Unfortunately, the staff could not say the same about facilities, class size and materials. For example, at Camp Lejeune, there were 165 Marines in the class being held in a gym. While I know Assistant Secretary Jefferson is working hard to renovate TAP and congratulate him for his efforts, it appears that an insufficient number of instructors appears to be driving the class size at Lejeune and that, I am sure, Secretary Jefferson would agree is not acceptable.
Additionally, DoL is not alone. Their TAP partners, DoD, VA, and the state workforce agencies need to take a hard look at the total quality of TAP. Across the TAP sites, handout materials were not standardized, sometimes out-of-date, or not available. In one instance, the materials failed to contain any information on the current Post 9/11 GI Bill….which became law in 2009.
And in at least one class, the VA instructor admitted he did not know much about some programs. For a program that has been in operation for nearly 20 years, those discrepancies are unacceptable we cannot ignore today’s shortcomings.
I look forward to hearing from today’s witnesses, and I will now yield to the gentleman from Iowa’s First Congressional District, Mr. Braley.