Issues & Advocacy


Since 1878, the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) has been fighting for the needs of the National Guard on Capitol Hill. 

Recent legislative successes include:

Passage of National Guard Veterans Status

All retired National Guardsmen and Reservists are now recognized as veterans in U.S. law. President Barack Obama signed legislation Dec. 16, 2016, that expands the legal definition of a veteran to include Guardsmen and Reservists with 20 years of service. U.S. law previously defined veterans as service members with more than 179 consecutive days of federal (Title 10) active duty for other than training. Most active- component members meet the standard after a year of service, but until the war on terror, many Guardsmen and Reservists served entire careers without a qualifying mobilization. The new status is honorary and does not convey any additional benefits. NGAUS had pushed for the change for six years.

12304b Benefits Parity

  • Pre- and post-mobilization TRICARE included in fiscal 2018 House NDAA (NGAUS is working with a bipartisan group of senators to address TRICARE and early retirement credit issues in Senate NDAA)
  • Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit accrual included in the Harry Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, signed by the president in Aug. 16

GI Bill Expansion

  • Represents the most sweeping changes to education benefits for service members, veterans, spouses and children since Post-9/11 GI Bill in 2008
  • Includes 12304b fix mentioned above and eliminates the 15-year cap on using GI Bill benefits
  • Increases eligibility for reserve-component service members who have served less than 36 months on active duty
         Eliminates the 40 percent tier and bumps those up to the 50 percent tier while changing the current 50 percent tier to 60 percent
  • Incorporates language to make it easier for surviving spouses and dependents to receive transfer of education benefits


  • Key provisions and programmatic funding included in House-passed NDAA, Senate-passed NDAA, and House-passed defense appropriations legislation
  • Additional funds for C-130 upgrades, F-15 AESA
  • Funds for Black Hawk modernization
  • $1 billion for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account
  • Additional funds for the National Guard Counterdrug program, State Partnership Program, STARBASE, Youth Challenge, and Yellow Ribbon

Other notable legislative successes:

National Guard Empowerment

NGAUS has worked to ensure that National Guard leaders have an enhanced voice and position in the Department of Defense decision-making process. In 2008, NGAUS worked with Congress to pass Empowerment I, elevating the Chief of the National Guard Bureau (CNGB) from a three-star to a four-star general. NGAUS celebrated the victory, but didn’t stop there. In 2011, NGAUS successfully pushed for Empowerment II, which provided a seat for the CNGB on the Joint Chiefs of Staff and re-established a three-star Vice Chief position, an effort that’s considered the most significant legislative victory since the Militia Act of 1903 created the modern, dual-mission National Guard.

Overturning Proposed Air National Guard Cuts

In 2012, the Air Force shocked Congress and the National Guard community by announcing drastic cuts to the Air National Guard, including more than 5,000 personnel and 200 aircraft. NGAUS, the Council of Governors and our members argued that the Air Force was disproportionally applying cuts to the National Guard, which would harm our ability to respond domestically and abroad. After months of debate, Congress agreed with NGAUS and halted most of the proposed personnel and aircraft cuts to the Air National Guard.

Creation of Commission on the Future of the Army

The panel, established by the FY15 defense authorization bill, was charged with investigating how the Army should look to meet the national security threats of the future. NGAUS lobbied Congress for the creation of the Commission following a proposal to remove all attack aviation from the National Guard, among other disagreements over Army force structure and equipment. In January 2016, the National Commission on the Future of the Army (NCFA) released its final report that included 63 recommendations, many of which are favorable for the reserve component.