By J.G. Noll
If four US Representatives have their way, members of the National Guard and Reserve will be eligible for some benefits currently restricted to them. Introducing bipartisan bill HR 1384, Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Tim Walz (D-MN), and Trent Franks (R-AZ) hope to create a greater equality in benefits between active duty troops and mobilized Guardsmen and Reservists doing the same jobs and sharing the same hardships.
The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) granted the DoD the 12304b authority: The ability to order the National Guard and Reserve “to active duty for preplanned missions in support of combatant commands.” However, that same NDAA did not grant eligibility to those service members for benefits that their active duty counterparts would receive. According to a press release from Shea-Porter’s office, “HR 1384 will correct this inconsistency by granting Guard and Reserve members access to these benefits. . . prior to and after mobilization.”
Citing morale and retention issues, Palazzo noted, “Giving our troops equal benefits for equal service is simply a no-brainer.”
HR 1384 will correct the eligibility loophole for these benefits:
- Pre- and post-mobilization access to TRICARE for the service member
- Pre- and post-mobilization access to TRICARE for dependents
- Reduction in age for eligibility for retired pay
- Access to Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits
- Accumulation of high-tempo deployment allowance
- Protection of eligibility for training and/or rehabilitation if services are interrupted by deployment
- Protection of pay for federal employees who are mobilized through 12304b
On Twitter, co-sponsor Walz announced the bill with a picture of Guardsmen from Minnesota:
— Tim Walz (@RepTimWalz) March 9, 2017
As of March 14, the text for HR 1384 is not yet available on Congress.gov. To track this proposed bill, click here.