December 20, 2013

Senate Passes Key Provisions of Kaine's First Bill, the Troop Talent Act

Legislation increases and streamlines credentialing for veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, the U.S. Senate passed key provisions of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine’s first bill, the Troop Talent Act of 2013, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2014. Kaine secured inclusion of the provisions during committee markup of the legislation in June 2013.

“I’m proud that key provisions of the first piece of legislation I introduced, the Troop Talent Actwere included in the 2014 defense bill that was passed with bipartisan support in the Senate,” Kaine said. “It will now be the law to provide active duty servicemembers with the tools they need to more easily receive credentials for the skills they acquire through military training, greatly easing their transition to a civilian career. This is a small but important step to help whittle away at the unacceptably high rate of veterans’ unemployment – particularly among those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan - and I remain committed to exploring all avenues to address this issue.”

The Troop Talent Act provisions included in the 2014 NDAA are:

1)      A requirement that information on civilian credentialing opportunities be made available to servicemembers at every stage of their military training

2)      A requirement that information on military training and experience be provided, upon request, to civilian credentialing agencies and other approved entities 

In addition, Kaine secured inclusion of an amendment to NDAA that ensures Department of Defense educational programs be eligible for funding under the Title IV Higher Education Act. This provision will ensure DoD programs meet the same standards currently required for other educational federal funding, such as Pell Grants.

The Troop Talent Act has received praise from editorial boards and veterans' groups, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, IAVA, the American Legion, Student Veterans of America, the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN).

“The unemployment rate for Veterans who have served in the military since 2001 is nearly 10%,” said Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, the lead sponsor of the Troop Talent Act in the House. “That number is simply unacceptable. Our Veterans guarantee the quality of their work with their life and civilian employers are in need of that level of dedication and expertise. These provisions of the Troop Talent Act will enable Veterans to make the transition to the private sector more easily and help our businesses thrive at the same time.”

“The VFW is glad to see that many of the key provisions from Senator Kaine’s Troop Talent Act will now be part of Defense policy moving forward,” said VFW Executive Director Bob Wallace. “Helping civilian credentialing agencies to better understand military training standards and real-life experiences, as well as ensuring service members understand the kinds of opportunities available to them, will better help qualified service members successfully transition into civilian careers.”  

“On behalf of the 2.4 million members of The American Legion, I congratulate the Senate for its inclusion of the Troop Talent Act provisions within the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Daniel M. Dellinger, National Commander of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans service organization. “The Legion worked closely with Senator Kaine and his staff on this measure and we take pride in its passage  as part of our longstanding and ongoing campaign  to streamline military to civilian licensing and credentialing for our service members, veterans and their families.”

“Sen. Kaine’s provision in the just-passed Defense authorization bill is a needed ‘next step’ in supporting our nation’s service women and men as they transition from the military to civilian careers by providing them practical information on the acquisition of civilian licenses and certifications,” said VADM Norm Ryan, USN-ret., President of the Military Officers Association of America.  The provision also gives our troops confidence that their military-funded educational assistance meets quality standards set by the Department of Education.” 

"On behalf of the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN), we are pleased to see the Senate adopt the Troop Talent Act within the Fiscal Year 2014 NDAA,” said Anthony Wallis, Legislative Director of the Association of the United States Navy. “This bill helps Veterans receive proper recognition/credentials for the skills and experiences they had while serving translate to in careers upon their transition into the civilian workforce. Our nation's Sailors and Veterans seeking employment opportunities deserve nothing less."

###