The Defense Department will be required to restart its Troops to Teachers program next year thanks to language included in the annual defense authorization bill finalized by Congress earlier this week.
The 28-year-old program had been shut down by defense officials earlier this fall as part of department planning in post-military transition efforts. The final financial payouts for individuals completing degrees under the program were scheduled to end next May.
But that decision drew objections from a number of outside veterans groups who called the Troops to Teachers program an important resource for service members looking at education jobs after their service.
The program, originally administered through the Department of Education, is designed to help veterans interested in teaching jobs by providing up to $10,000 of financial support and coordination with state officials on placement in schools in need of teachers.
About 23,000 individuals have taken part in the program since 1993. The program costs about $15 million per year. But Pentagon leaders had indicated in recent years that they believed the money could be spent more effectively and efficiently elsewhere.
Congress disagreed. In the defense authorization bill, lawmakers mandated the department to continue the program until at least July 2025, three years longer than officials had planned.
They also require military leaders to provide a full analysis of the program by next December, looking at the operating costs, number of veterans helped by the assistance, and the impact on schools in need of additional educators.
The extension of the transition assistance effort drew praise from officials at the American Legion, who along with other veterans groups has been lobbying to protect the program for months.
“Just like military service is an honorable profession, so is the education of our nation’s youth,” said Paul Dillard, national commander of the American Legion, in a statement. “We believe it is a benefit not just to the veteran but to students in classrooms across the country who would be taught by men and women that are battle-tested leaders.”
President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law in coming days.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.