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Bipartisan Bill Would Improve Guard Access to Education Benefits

Military education stock image
Military education stock image
Washington Report

A bipartisan group of senators has introduced legislation that would give Guardsmen and Reservists some of the same benefits provided to active-duty troops.

The Montgomery GI Bill Parity Act (S. 1136) would allow reserve-component personnel to use their GI Bill benefits concurrently with federal tuition assistance programs to fund their education.

Current DoD policy allows active-duty service members to use the programs simultaneously, but bars Guard and Reserve troops from doing the same. If passed, the bill would require the Pentagon to update its policy.

“Our legislation is all about supporting our Guard and Reserve members and ensuring they receive the benefits that they have earned,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. “The Montgomery GI Bill Parity Act improves access to education benefits for Guard members and ensures that they are able to utilize their benefits in the same way as active duty service members.”

Hoeven and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., introduced the bill. Both are members of the Defense Appropriations Committee. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., co-sponsor the legislation.

Boozman said the bill was a “simple fix to a problem that should not exist.”

“Our men and women in uniform deserve the benefits they have earned without strings attached,” he said.

Leahy, the co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus, said members of the National Guard should receive all the educational benefits the nation intended they receive. And Cramer said allowing service members to use both benefits makes the military and economy stronger.

“Current restrictions prevent service members from using GI Bill benefits if they are already using tuition assistance, making it more difficult to cover education-related costs,” he said. “This legislation closes this loophole and allows service members to use the educational benefits they have earned through years of dedicated service.”