Active-duty members of our armed forces who are transitioning out of their military service have access to a program that connects them to in-demand skills training and prospective employers who are seeking to hire veterans.
But that program, called SkillBridge, isn’t currently available to members of the National Guard or Reserve, even though they have put their lives on the line alongside their active-duty brothers and sisters.
That’s why I’ve written legislation to change that, legislation that has now passed the House and that I hope to see signed into law soon.
Here at home and across the globe, members of the Iowa National Guard and Reservists have bravely served their nation and deserve the same benefits as anyone else.
That’s why I wrote the Transition for Success Act, which was supported by a bipartisan majority and approved by the House just a few weeks ago.
Skills and training programs that can be accessed through the SkillBridge program are an important pathway to connecting our veterans with high-demand and good paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, while utilizing the skills our military members already have.
SkillBridge is the perfect example of the success we can have when our public sector and private businesses work together. Google, Amazon and some of our nation’s largest skilled trade unions cover the costs of training new veterans and connecting them to highly skilled, in-demand civilian jobs after their service.
In 2019 some 600 servicemembers used the program.
The Department of Defense projected that my legislation would lead to a 30% increase in participation in the SkillBridge program.
The program has been successful for those who have used it, and this is a commonsense choice for us to make — giving all our servicemembers free training that will connect them to in-demand careers right here at home and ensure that they have the skills they need to fill the jobs of tomorrow.
The Transition for Success Act passed the House as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act. This year, this policy bill also included two pieces that I worked to add before it passed the House.
The first reauthorizes funding for the RC-26 aircraft, a key tool in the belt of the Iowa Air National Guard that they use for both anti-trafficking and natural disaster response missions.
The second are two memorials to honor both the 13 servicemembers who lost their lives on Aug. 26 in Kabul, including Cpl. Daegan Page of Red Oak, and all servicemembers who fought in the Global War on Terrorism.
In addition to making sure all members of the military have access to in-demand, good-paying jobs, I’ve been making sure regular Iowans have those opportunities as well.
Earlier this year, I helped advance legislation that would increase funding for skills training projects offered through the U.S. Department of Labor by more than 10%.
That bill also included an amendment I wrote to increase grant funding for community colleges that offer career skills training programs specifically to help Iowans who have been laid off or otherwise displaced from an old job through no fault of their own. This would help Iowans who lost their job due to the pandemic retrain into more secure, higher-paying career fields.
I’m grateful for our service members, and I’m determined to make sure I am doing everything I can to support them. That is why I am glad to see my bipartisan legislation passed through the House and why I will continue to work to see this commonsense measure that helps our National Guard members and Reservists signed into law.
Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.