NGAUS Washington Report
(March 11, 2014) Retired Col. Pete Duffy, the NGAUS legislative director, told a panel of lawmakers last week that it should change the federal government's formal definition of a veteran because it shortchanges those who serve honorably in the reserve component.
The law requires a certain amount of time on Title 10 service other than for training to qualify as a veteran under the law, which eliminates those who serve only in the National Guard or Reserves without ever deploying on a Title 10 mission.
"Discrimination of any stripes bites hard and is painful," Duffy told a joint gathering of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. The lawmakers heard testimony from several veteran service organizations.
That law would have been changed had legislation sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., become law, but it has stalled in the Senate. Duffy thanked Sanders for introducing the bill that addressed several veteran issues, such as health care and education benefits.
Duffy stressed to the members of Congress that duty in the Guard and Reserve is difficult. Members work a regular civilian job or manage a business during the week supplemented by mandatory training on weekends and evenings, while being ready at all times to be mobilized for domestic duties, overseas contingencies or additional training exercises.
NGAUS provided the committee members with written testimony noting other issues of interest to Guardsmen, such as the disproportionate denial of disability benefit compensation claims from Guard members and the need for community-based mental health care.