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NGB Chief: Guardsmen Are 'Driven' to Do Good

08-29-23 WR Hokanson Reno WEBSITE
08-29-23 WR Hokanson Reno WEBSITE
Washington Report

Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, spoke about the importance of serving in the Guard during his recent address at the 145th General Conference & Exhibition in Reno, Nevada.

"There’s a calling inside of each and every one of us to really make a difference,” he said of Guardsmen Aug. 19.

Hokanson said that people are "driven by an internal force to do something good."

"We serve because, at the end of the day, someone has to stand up and do the right things for our families, for our communities, for our nation and for our world," Hokanson, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added. "This is why we must keep our promise to be 'Always Ready, Always There.'"

Hokanson also discussed ensuring that the Guard is prepared to perform its mission by having the necessary manpower and training in the Army Guard and the Air Guard, and by providing the needed health and dental care to Guardsmen.

In terms of the Army Guard, Hokanson announced that the component has accomplished its goal of achieving full operating capability for division alignment.

Since 2020, the Army Guard has worked with the Army, the division commands and the adjutants general to align existing subordinate elements under the component's eight division headquarters to increase readiness for large-scale combat operations and improve talent management.

For the Air Guard, Hokanson said that there is progress being made for the component's recapitalization efforts.

Per Hokanson, there are standalone fighter recapitalization bills in both the House and the Senate that could be included in the fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.

"If so, there is a strong chance we will see language in the NDAA requiring the Air Force to maintain 25 fighter squadrons and produce a plan to recapitalize the Air National Guard’s air fleet," he stated.

Hokanson also addressed the ongoing issue of the Guard's health care and dental care.

According to Hokanson, 20% of the Joint Force doesn’t have access to health care.

In June, the House reintroduced the Healthcare for Our Troops Act. The legislation aims to give every Guardsman and Reservist access to zero-cost medical care.

The Dental Care for Our Troops Act, which was introduced in the House during the same month, would give National Guardsmen and Reservists access to no-cost dental care.

"Our Guardsmen need and deserve that coverage," Hokanson said.

Hokanson additionally addressed federal tuition assistance to help take some financial burdens off Guardsmen. Per Hokanson, education benefits make everyone better, and he wants to do everything he can to facilitate those opportunities for Guardsmen.

"To me, if the resources are available and it’s helping facilitate someone to get there, then we absolutely need to use it for that," he noted.

Currently, the Army Guard provides 100% tuition up to $250 per semester hour, for up to 16 semester hours annually.

This amount must not exceed $4,000 per fiscal year, a lifetime limit of 130 undergraduate semester hours or a lifetime limit of 39 graduate semester hours.

The benefit may be used with the Post-9/11 GI Bill or MGIB-Active Duty (AD) for the same course.

In contrast, the Air Guard has a tuition assistance program that offers 100% tuition and fees up to $250 per semester hour, which can't exceed $4,000 per fiscal year.

Hokanson additionally discussed the State Partnership Program, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in July, the importance of the Guard to communities nationwide and providing disaster relief.

— By Donald Lambert