Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) and Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Michigan) launched a new bi-partisan caucus that will specialize policies aimed at helping military veterans transition to civilian life, the representatives announced on Friday, Nov. 22. The official title of the 20-member panel is the Congressional Military Transition Assistance Pathway Caucus.
“As veterans, we know firsthand the challenges that servicemembers and their families face when they leave military service and begin to reintegrate into civilian life,” said Rep. Cisneros in a Nov. 22 news release. “This caucus will help Members engage with Veteran Service Organizations and other key stakeholders as we focus necessary attention on this crucial period in the lives of servicemembers, veterans, and their families.”
Cisneros is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, while Bergman was in the Marine Corps. Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) is also a member of the caucus.
Transition from military to civilian life, especially for veterans who joined up after 9/11, has been very difficult, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center. “About half of post-9/11 veterans (47%) say it was very or somewhat difficult for them to readjust to civilian life after their military service,” states the Pew report. “Veterans who say they have suffered from PTS [post-traumatic stress] are much more likely to report experiencing these things than those who did not. Roughly six-in-ten (61%) say they had trouble paying their bills, about four-in-ten (42%) say they had trouble getting medical care for themselves or their families, and a similar share (41%) say they struggled with alcohol or substance abuse.”
During a Veterans Committee hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 20, Cisneros took VA officials to task over the continuing epidemic of veteran suicides, saying they needed a “better approach” to reaching out to troubled vets and getting them integrated into the VA mental health system. This new caucus seems set up to highlight ways to help vets who find themselves lost after leaving the service.
“The MTAP Caucus is a bipartisan coalition of Representatives dedicated to supporting and advocating on behalf of military servicemembers returning to civilian life, advancing policies that improve services and resources provided to transitioning servicemembers, addressing gaps of care when a servicemember transitions, and honoring the service of our nation’s military retirees and their families,” states the caucus webpage.
According to the caucus website, the panel’s work will include “Addressing and solving gaps in service of care as servicemembers transition into civilian life, including the unique barriers women servicemembers face,” “Incorporating and addressing the needs of the Guard and Reserve forces in transition assistance policy” and “Ensuring that all transitioning servicemembers and veterans are aware of the services and resources available to them after concluding their military service.”
You know something else they could do? Meaningfully advocate for an end to the endless imperial wars in Asia and the Middle East that we’ve been fighting over the last two decades. They’ve already killed more than 800,000 people–nearly half of which were civilians. We’ve achieved nothing from this fighting other than death, misery and more authoritarianism, which now threatens our own democracy.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.