Veteran's Status Bill Passes House

NGAUS Washington Report

(Oct. 29, 2013) Legislation that would grant veteran's status to all National Guard and Reserve retirees has passed its first major hurdle.

The House on Oct. 28 passed the Honor America's Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, which gives all those with 20 years of service in the Guard and Reserve the honor of being called a veteran.

Under current law, only Guardsmen and Reservists who have served on federal active-duty for other than training, regardless of their total years in uniform, may call themselves a veteran.

Originally introduced as stand-alone legislation by Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., the measure was added to a bill (H.R. 1405) that also would require the secretary of veterans affairs to include an appeals form along with any benefits-denial notification.

Walz, the co-chair of the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus, said veteran's status for all Guard and Reserve retires is long overdue.  

“These men and women took an oath to defend our nation at any cost and have dedicated their lives in service to our country,” he said. "This legislation corrects this injustice, at no cost to taxpayers."
The House passed similar legislation in the last Congress only to see it blocked in the Senate due to "unwarranted concerns" about cost, Walz said.

Those who fall under the bill's jurisdiction, he explained, would receive no benefits other than recognition as veterans.    
The matter now again moves to the Senate, where identical legislation (S. 629) sponsored by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., is already under consideration.

Veteran status for all Guard retirees is a NGAUS legislative priority.