Still Hope for Veteran Status Bill in 2012

NGAUS Washington Report

(Nov. 20, 2012) Pete Duffy, the NGAUS acting legislative director, says there is still hope this year for S. 491, the Honor America's Guard-Reserve Retirees Act of 2011, a bill that would recognize as veterans reserve-component retirees who served 20 years.

Current law does not formally consider them to be veterans if they have not served an adequate amount of time on Title 10 status.

The cost-neutral bill would provide no other benefit other than the recognition that would allow saluting of the flag as veterans. It has remained stalled in the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, along with a companion bill, which passed the House in October 2011.

Duffy says the stumbling block has been “intransigent opposition” from the staff of Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the committee’s ranking member. The concern is that the bill would “open the floodgates” to more veteran benefits for everyone impacted by the law, although it specifically excludes any other benefits.

The House bill must get the support of the Senate committee to join a package of veterans issues the committee may send forward in an omnibus bill before the end of the year.  

“It is puzzling that the staff of Senator Burr would place him in opposition to the legislation as he has been a reliable supporter of the National Guard and Reserve in a state with a strong citizen-soldier tradition,” Duffy said. “This bill would benefit 288,757 retired members of the reserve components who stood ready, but were not activated or allowed to deploy on Title 10 missions through no fault of their own.”

NGAUS distributed a Legislative Alert on this issue.