National Guard members and their families deserve proper medical coverage, education and employment opportunities as well as retirement and veterans’ protections.
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.
Allow federal hiring points for current Guard service
The National Guard reported a nearly 20 percent unemployment rate for the Army National Guard in 2012, much higher than the national average of 7.8 percent. Currently, veterans receive hiring preference points from federal agencies, but this hiring preference is not limited to veterans alone. It is also granted to the spouse of an unemployable disabled veteran, the unmarried widow or widower of a veteran, or the mother of a deceased or disabled veteran. However, 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.
Reject recommendations to cut Guard drill pay in half
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.
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 performing Operation Noble Eagle duty or protecting our southwestern border in a 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 today 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.
Fund the National Guard embedded mental health program
Suicides throughout the military and among veterans continue at an alarming near epidemic rate. In 2012 alone, the Army National Guard reported 96 confirmed or suspected suicides.The VA reports that approximately 22 veterans take their lives daily. National Guard and Reserve personnel in states at high 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 professional 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. Recently, Congress authorized efforts to address National Guard suicides by embedding mental health care providers with soldiers and airmen during unit training assemblies to provide screening and treatment. However, this program now needs funding to carry out this program in high-risk states.
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. Congress heard testimony in 2007 that some medically evacuated RC members sometimes returned stateside with medical records resting on their chests. 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.
Allow enrollment in TRICARE Reserve Select for Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan-eligible personnel
Since 2007, most members of the National Guard have been eligible to enroll in the premium-based TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) health care plan. However, those eligible to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP) because of their or their spouses’ federal civilian employment are barred from enrolling in TRS. This creates a disparity in health care coverage rates among serving Guard members, since TRS rates are much lower than FEHBP at approximately $52 for member-only coverage and $196 for family coverage. Amending the law to allow all members of the National Guard and Reserve to enroll in TRICARE Reserve Select would provide savings and strengthen the well being of our military members and their families in difficult economic environments.
Take Action: Write to Congress
Write to Congress today and urge them to stand up for any of these crucial issues to help support the brave men and women of the National Guard who volunteer to serve our country.