Lankford, Tester Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Connect Transitioning Servicemembers with Border Security Careers
WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Jon Tester (D-MT) are introducing bipartisan legislation to set up servicemembers transitioning out of the military with careers as U.S. Border Patrol agents.
The Senators’ Veterans Border Patrol Training Act would utilize the Department of Defense’s (DoD) SkillBridge program to connect transitioning servicemembers with jobs at U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)—addressing critical border security workforce vacancies and connecting veterans with meaningful employment after their time in uniform.
“Active-duty military servicemembers who are about to transition out of active service are likely perfect candidates to fill open border law enforcement roles, and now we have a bill to make that process easier,” said Lankford. “We can and should set up a common-sense process using an existing Department of Defense program to help active-duty military members get into a new career serving their nation with border law enforcement so we don’t lose their skills and experience. This bill should be an easy vote for anyone who loves our military and wants more national security.”
“To secure our borders and keep this country safe, we need more manpower on the ground, and that means commonsense programs to hire more border patrol agents,” said Tester. “That’s why I’m leading the bipartisan effort to allow the SkillBridge program to serve as a critical pipeline for hiring the more than 200,000 servicemembers transitioning out of the military each year—strengthening our border security all while connecting these folks with meaningful employment.”
The DoD SkillBridge program allows servicemembers to gain tangible work experience and participate in approved training, internships, or apprenticeships while on active duty for up to 180 days before transitioning out of the Armed Forces.
The Senators’ effort to connect transitioning servicemembers with border security careers received strong backing from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) and stakeholders nationwide.
“Our nation’s veterans have developed skills and fortitude in their years of service to our country, qualities that make them uniquely qualified to serve as U.S. Border Patrol agents,” said Brandon Judd, President of the National Border Patrol Council. “This legislation will give more veterans the opportunity to continue serving and protecting our country. We thank Senator Tester and Senator Lankford for introducing this important legislation, and look forward to working together to secure our border and support the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol.”
“Transition from military service is a pivotal time in each service member’s life and many competing priorities like the need to find housing and healthcare can make it especially challenging to obtain gainful post-service careers,” said Brittany Dymond, Associate Director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Security & Foreign Affairs Directorate. “To that end, the VFW places great value in the SkillBridge program, as well as efforts to expand opportunities therein. We commend Senators Jon Tester and James Lankford for introducing the Veterans Border Patrol Training Act, which would create a SkillBridge pathway for transitioning servicemembers interested in becoming U.S. Border Patrol Agents. Early engagement in such opportunities can not only promote continued public service among those transitioning but also help individuals plot a well-defined post-service plan.”
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection plays a critical role supporting national security by safeguarding our borders,” said Chanin Nuntavong, Executive Director of Government Affairs for The American Legion. “It is vital that Congress provide the means to address their staffing shortages. The Veterans Border Patrol Training Act would meet this challenge by tapping into our nation’s most valuable candidate pool — transitioning servicemembers. The American Legion thanks Senators Tester and Lankford for their leadership in identifying solutions to fulfill our nation’s border security mission. We are proud to support this bipartisan legislation.”