Bill Answers 'Are You Really a Veteran?'

NGAUS Washington Report

(Jan. 7, 2014) Buried deep within an omnibus bill to be taken up on Capitol Hill this week is one sentence changing the federal government’s definition of veteran.

“Any person who is entitled under chapter 1223 of title 10, United States Code, to retired pay for nonregular service or, but for age, would be entitled under such chapter to retired pay for nonregular service shall be honored as a veteran but shall not be entitled to any benefit by reason of this honor.”

Those few words sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., have been a NGAUS priority for some time as the association attempts to bring recognized veteran status to Guardsmen who do not have it because they did not serve enough time on Title 10 to meet the federal definition.

The vote in the Senate is important because that’s where problems on this issue have occurred in the past. The House has welcomed the change in the definition.

“This would give thousands of Guard veterans and others the respect they have earned with their uniformed service,” said Pete Duffy, the NGAUS legislative director. “For no cost to the taxpayer, these men and women would be recognized as veterans by the government they served.”

Current law includes the requirement of active-duty service before former military members can rightfully refer to themselves as veterans. Duffy points out that an active-component member who sits at a desk for four years is a veteran, but a Guardsman who serves on the border with Mexico or patrols the sky above an American city is not.

NGAUS distributed a Legislative Alert to members today as lawmakers prepare to vote possibly by Friday. Make your voice heard through the Write to Congress tool here.