September 22, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Mike Rounds (R-SD) have introduced a bill that would provide support to veterans in the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) applying for their well-deserved benefits. The TAP Promotion Act would allow accredited representatives from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), or other organizations, participate in TAP classes to help transitioning servicemembers file Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) claims as TAP classroom instructors are not legally allowed to help veterans fill out benefits paperwork.
Through BDD, servicemembers can file expedited claims and complete medical evaluations before leaving service. Receiving accelerated claims decisions means transitioning servicemembers would have minimal gaps in essential care like mental health counseling and medication management once they officially leave service.
“Every year approximately 250,000 servicemembers transition out of military service into civilian life. Whether the servicemember is finishing their first deployment, or retiring, transitioning back into civilian life is a major life event full of uncertainties,” said Senator King. “The TAP Promotion Act would allow these servicemembers to connect with an informed, VA accredited representative who can mentor them in the process of applying for and receiving the benefits they earned. Thanks to my colleagues for understanding the importance of serving our veterans—just as they have served us throughout their careers.”
“The Transition Assistance Program is invaluable for servicemembers to access resources for their transition back to civilian life,” said Senator Cramer. “State and county VSOs are an essential resource for veterans looking to utilize the many benefits available to them. Our legislation will provide greater access to these organizations during the program.”
“Leaving military service and returning to civilian life marks one of the largest challenges our service men and women face. We must to do everything we can to ensure they have access to the full range of benefits the VA offers as they take that next step,” said Senator Shaheen. “The TAP Promotion Act will provide our veterans with important mentorship from VA representatives to ensure they can access the benefits they’ve earned. The sooner they access those resources, the sooner they can successfully transition to the next stage of their lives.”
“Our men and women in uniform represent the best of our country,” said Senator Rounds. “We have a duty to make certain they receive the benefits they have earned once their service is complete, and Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) in South Dakota play a key role in doing just that. I am pleased to join Senator King in introducing this bipartisan legislation that would allow VSOs to connect with service members as they go through the Transition Assistance Program and help them apply for their VA benefits before leaving the military.”
TAP is offered at over 300 installations around the world and helps prepare servicemembers for civilian life. Having an accredited representative physically present in TAP classrooms during VA briefings would create another bridge for transitioning service members to veteran status.