WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, a bill meant to improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), a program that assists veterans transitioning out of active duty service, passed the U.S. House of Representatives with co-sponsorship from Congressman Jodey Arrington.
The bill’s namesake, SEAL Chief Petty Officer William “Bill” Mulder of Plainview, was part of the reason for Arrington’s sponsorship of the bill, he said.
According to a press release, TAP was originally created in 1991 as a program to help veterans with things like financial literacy, job placement, and VA benefits.
This new legislation is meant to improve on the original bill by reintroducing a pilot program to provide TAP curriculum to service members at off-base locations, as stated in the release. It will also create a five-year pilot program to provide matching grant funds to community providers who offer wraparound services to veterans who have recently transitioned out of the military.
“Our country makes a tremendous investment in preparing our citizen soldiers to be freedom fighters, to be part of the greatest fighting force in all the world, but then we invest a fraction of that in their transition back to civilian life,” Arrington said on the House floor.
Citing instances where veterans have taken their own lives, he said this type of legislation is vital to helping veterans who often struggle when they return home.
“One of those veterans, sadly enough, was my friend Bill, my fellow Plainview Bulldog for whom this bill was named…,” Arrington said. “After 20 years as a combat Navy SEAL, Bill bore scars you couldn’t see, and he struggled to make that transition from Active Duty to civilian life.”
Arrington said veterans don’t always struggle because of skill gaps, education or even the struggle of redefining their purpose after military life, but rather, their biggest struggle can be managing their mental health.
“I am grateful that we have included mental health in this legislation because that was the case for Mr. Mulder,” Arrington said. “We owe this to the likes of Bill Mulder. This legislation may just save lives, and I believe it will.”