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Bill Would Expand GI Bill Benefits to More Guard Duty Statuses

Washington Report

A bipartisan bill introduced by the leaders of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee would expand education benefits for some National Guard soldiers and airmen serving on federal orders.

The Guard, Reserve and Active Duty Department of Veterans Affairs Educational Assistance Parity (GRAD) Act, S. 2644, would ensure all federally activated service members receive eligibility towards GI Bill benefits.

It was introduced last week by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. Tester is chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee while Moran is the ranking Republican.

The bill has the support of NGAUS.

“After all the hard work and sacrifice we’ve seen from our National Guard in the post 9-11 era, it’s past time that we give equal accrual of Post-9/11 G.I Bill benefits,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, NGAUS president. “Most Americans would be shocked that often times the men and women of the National Guard don’t earn educational benefits simply because of the type of military orders they are deployed on.”

Moran said the legislation would make certain that Guardsmen and Reservists who are performing the same services as active duty-service members will be eligible for the same GI Bill benefits. The bill, however, will not impact those on state active duty orders or inactive duty training.

“Over the last year, we saw thousands of Guardsmen and reservists serve their country while responding to the COVID pandemic, domestic unrest and the crisis at the southern border, yet these times in federal service do not currently count towards their GI Bill benefits,” Moran said.

Tester said members of the National Guard deserve GI Bill benefits that reflect their increased service to the nation.

“Our brave men and women continue to answer the call of duty, now more than ever, but their benefits aren’t keeping pace,” he said. “Our bipartisan bill will begin to right this wrong by ensuring all federally activated members receive the education benefits they are owed.”