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.

Personnel Initiatives

Giving Members of the National Guard Tiered Preference in Hiring for Civil Service Jobs
NGAUS strongly supports the Military Reserve Jobs Act of 2013, Senate bill S.1320 and House bill H.R. 2875, 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. These bills would close the gap for reserve component members who do not otherwise qualify. The National Guard Bureau estimates that approximately 159,400 member of the Army National Guard and 73,700 members of the Air National Guard now serve without qualifying for veteran's preference. Under the bills, a qualified member of the reserve component would be able to claim a 3-point, 4-point or 5-point preference depending on length of service. 

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.

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. Passing S. 1982 would establish the long sought Veteran Status for all Reserve Component retirees as well as several other  necessary veterans’ benefits.

Health Initiatives

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. In the last two years , to address National Guard suicides 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. 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.

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.

Retirement Pay
Retroactivity to 9/11 for the Retirement Pay Eligibility Provisions in the 2008 NDAA
The Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act reduced the archaic 60 year eligibility age for retired members of the Ready Reserve to collect retirement pay three months for each aggregate of 90 days per fiscal year of active duty performed in Title 10 status in support of a contingency operation or in Title 32 status in responding to a national emergency. Unfortunately, these historic provisions applied only to service after January 28, 2008, the date of enactment of the 2008 NDAA. Since September 11,2001members of the Reserve Component have served as an “operational” force alongside their active counterparts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous locations around the globe.  If active duty service of the Reserve Components in wartime and national emergencies after January 28, 2008 is now recognized in reducing the age to collect military retirement pay, it is only fair and deserving to credit retroactively all otherwise qualifying service performed after September 11, 2001.  Our members who so bravely risked their lives in service to our country have earned this.

HR 2907 would correct this inequity . Congress needs to pass HR 2907 with the needed offsets to enact this long overdue legislation. 


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.