Rep. Mike Levin Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Provide GI Bill Benefit Parity for National Guard and Reserve Servicemembers
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), and Tim Ryan (D-OH) announced the introduction of the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation to provide parity in GI Bill benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserves who increasingly conduct similar training and missions as other servicemembers, but do not receive equal benefits. The bill was also introduced by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
Since 9/11, the Reserve Component has become an integral part of U.S. defense plans as an operational reserve, a change from its traditional role as a strategic reserve. Servicemembers from the Active and Reserve Components often train and serve alongside each other, such as deployments to disasters like wildfires, but do not receive equal benefits. The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act would start to address this benefits disparity by expanding eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill to count every day that a servicemember is paid and in uniform toward benefit eligibility.
“If members of the Guard and Reserve do similar jobs and face similar risks as other servicemembers, then they deserve the same benefits,” said Rep. Levin, Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. “This commonsense legislation will finally bring basic fairness for servicemembers who spend months away from family and risk their lives for our country, but have not received the benefits they deserve. I’m proud to introduce this bill with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and look forward to advancing it in the House.”
“Our men and women serving in the National Guard and Reserves are trained to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice and are oftentimes performing the same duties as their active-duty counterparts without receiving equal benefits,” said Rep. Palazzo. “I firmly believe that these individuals carrying out equally demanding and risky responsibilities should be appropriately compensated. This is about fairness and ensuring our Guardsmen and Reservists get the benefits they earned.”
“Our servicemembers prove themselves daily serving our nation, and they should be compensated daily as well. That’s why a day on active duty should count as a day toward their GI benefits,” said Congressman Ryan. “Nothing can truly repay our servicemembers for their sacrifices, but this bill is an important step towards fairly compensating military men and women.”
“Members of the National Guard and Reserve deserve GI benefits that reflect their increased services to our nation,” said Senator Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “These folks continue to answer the call of duty, and have been waiting years for the government to do right by them. Our bipartisan, bicameral bill addresses this inequity, and follows through on our commitment to ensure these men and women receive the education benefits they have earned and deserve.”
“We could not provide for our national defense if it were not for the service of our guardsmen and women,” said Senator Blackburn. “From protecting our southern border to aiding in the wake of national disasters, our National Guard and Reserve components serve an integral role in our military community, and they ought to be fully compensated for their service each and every day they wear their uniform.”
“The men and women of the National Guard work tirelessly alongside their active-duty and reservist counterparts, often accomplishing the exact same mission but receiving very different benefits,” said Daniel Elkins, Legislative Director with EANGUS. “The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2020 will help ensure fair and equal treatment to all servicemembers, regardless of duty status.”
As Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, Rep. Levin led a hearing on the need to bring benefit parity for the National Guard and Reserves. He also introduced bipartisan legislation with Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-TN) to expand eligibility for VA Vet Center mental health services to Guard and Reserve servicemembers who have responded to national emergencies, major disasters, civil disorder, or drug interdiction missions.