Issues & Advocacy
 

Issue: Personnel & Benefits

National Guard members and their families deserve proper medical coverage, education and employment opportunities as well as retirement and veterans’ protections.

Issue Overview

NGAUS provides a voice on Capitol Hill for our National Guard members, their families and retirees to ensure that they receive proper benefits for their service, including medical coverage, education, retirement, veterans protection and employment opportunities.

What's At Stake

Allow veteran status for all retired members
Reserve Component members can complete a full Guard or Reserve career but not earn the title of “Veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States” unless they have served on Title 10 active duty beyond training purposes. Today, National Guard members operating in Title 32 status may one day retire from the Guard but not qualify to be classified as a Veteran of the Armed Forces. Legislation in Congress to rectify this situation comes at no cost to taxpayers. Granting Guardsmen the simple right to call themselves a veteran is an important recognition of service.

Give Members of the National Guard Tiered Preference in Hiring for Civil Service Jobs
NGAUS strongly supports legislation that gives qualified members of the Reserve Components, such as a member who has successfully completed basic training and incurred a commitment to six consecutive years of service, tiered preference in hiring for civil service jobs.  Many National Guard members serve their country faithfully here at home in homeland defense and disaster relief missions and do not receive any federal hiring preference points because they do not have the requisite Title 10 experience. National Guard members have both civilian and military skills that would make them great candidates for many positions, but they are confronted with an inequity in the system. The National Guard Bureau estimates that approximately 159,400 members of the Army National Guard and 73,700 members of the Air National Guard now serve without qualifying for veteran's preference. 

Ensure Defense and Congressional Commissions and Reviews do not unfairly target the National Guard for reductions in pay and benefits
NGAUS supports recommendations from the 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation (QRMC) that would allow Guard members to receive their retired pay upon their 30th anniversary of service after having attained 20 qualifying years of service. However, the QRMC recommendations to cut drill by half in order to equate drill pay with one day one day of “regular military compensation,” to “ensure equitable pay for similar service” with the active component are off base. NGAUS is working with the Congressional Military Compensation and Reitrement Modernization Commission to ensure that recommendations are favorable to the National Guard.

Fund the National Guard community and embedded mental health program
Suicides throughout the military and among veterans continue at an alarming near epidemic rate. National Guard and Reserve personnel at risk for suicide and dangerous behavioral health conditions need convenient access to mental health professionals for screening, care and referrals. On-site access to embedded mental health professionals during training assemblies has proven successful in overcoming geographical, stigma and time barriers that might otherwise bar a member from similar services in a rural or underserved community. Congress has authorized a community based mental health care pilot program for serving National Guard members and the embedding of mental health care providers with soldiers and airmen during unit training assemblies to provide screening and treatment. However, these programs still need sustained funding to grow into a long-term, viable service for those in need.

Fix the disproportionate denial rate for Guard VA disability claims
The Veterans Administration is denying disability benefit compensation claims for reserve component veterans at four times the rate of active duty veterans. Possible reasons for the disparity include incomplete or non-existent theater medical records. National Guard and Reserve personnel who fought bravely in OIF and OEF should not be unnecessarily punished because of neglectful medical record keeping in theater and a demobilization system that compromises successful VA disability benefit claims arising from service-connected injuries that were not properly identified on active duty.

Work to stop increases in TRICARE fees
Although the President has continously purposed increases in TRICARE fees, NGAUS has worked successfully with both the House and Senate to reject the increases. With further cuts expected in federal spending, NGAUS will continue to work with Congress to see that TRICARE remains the affordable health care option it was meant to be.