Sens. Franken, Capito, Klobuchar, Cornyn Press Bipartisan Effort to Ensure Mobilized National Guard and Reserve Troops Have Access to Same Benefits As Active Duty Troops
Senators Say Their Bill Provides Fairness in Benefits Among Deployed Troops
Senators Al Franken, Shelley Moore Capito, Amy Klobuchar, and John Cornyn introduced a bipartisan measure to ensure that mobilized National Guard and Reserve Troops who have carried out the same duties as active duty forces are also eligible for the same health, education, leave, pay and retirement benefits they've earned while deployed.
The senators said the bill would provide fairness to National Guard and Reserve troops who carry out equivalent duties alongside active duty troops, but who currently are not eligible for the same important benefits. The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act gave the Department of Defense the authority to order National Guard and Reserve personnel to active duty, but it did not extend to those troops access to the same benefits. The Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act would remedy that and make it retroactive to cover approximately 5,800 National Guard and Reserve Troops mobilized since 2012.
"National Guard and Reserve members from Minnesota and across the country have been serving skillfully and honorably alongside our active duty troops for many years, yet they are not eligible to receive the same important health education, pay, and retirement benefits as active duty members, even though they've performed equivalent duties," said Sen. Franken. "This legislation will ensure we restore fairness in benefits for all men and women who are mobilized to serve and protect our nation."
"Since 2013, the Department of Defense has been involuntarily mobilizing National Guard soldiers, including 48 members of the West Virginia National Guard, without providing them the same benefits as their Active Duty counterparts. Our National Guard is an operational reserve vital to our national security, and when our brave men and women are called to serve, they deserve equal pay and equal benefits. Today, I sponsored legislation to fix this fundamental unfairness and do right by our National Guard," said Senator Capito.
"Our servicemembers deserve nothing but the best, but due to a loophole in current law, some Minnesota National Guard and reserve soldiers have been denied important health, education, and retirement benefits," said Klobuchar. "Our bipartisan legislation will close this loophole and help ensure these servicemembers can access the hard-earned benefits they deserve."
The Reserve Component Benefits Parity Act would provide the following benefits currently earned by Active Duty forces but denied to many mobilized National Guard and Reserve members:
1. Provide pre-mobilization and post mobilization access to TRICARE health benefits.
2. Provide for reduction in age for eligibility of retired pay for National Guard and Reserve soldiers called to active duty.
3. Provide access to post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits.
4. Will allow National Guard and Reserve Component forces to accrue high deployment allowance for service, thus preventing National Guard soldiers from being
sent on rapid successive deployment.
5. Provide protection of eligibility for training and rehabilitation services interrupted by deployments.
6. Provides for no reduction in federal pay for federal employees deployed under 12304B.
The bill will be retroactive to the passage of the 2012 NDAA to ensure that the over 5,800 National Guard and Reserve Component soldiers that have been deployed, are currently deployed, or will be deployed have access to the same benefits they would under other deployment authorities.