Bill Similar to Bennet Proposal Advances
Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today applauded the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee’s passage of an expansion of education benefits for National Guard members advocated for by Bennet. The committee approved the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act, which includes language similar to provisions in Bennet’s National Guard Education Equality Act.
“When men and women sign up to defend our country, it is our duty to ensure they have access to the full benefits they’ve earned,” Bennet said. “That’s simply not the case under current law, and it’s something that must be fixed. This is an important first step to create a clearer, consistent and common sense standard for how we repay the debt to those who’ve given their time and their energy to defend and protect our country.”
Currently, the Post-9/11 GI bill excludes thousands of National Guard members from receiving full education benefits even though they served on active duty and were paid by the federal government to protect the nation’s borders, airspace, airports, military facilities, and disaster-ravaged areas.
The bill approved by the Committee was introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and would cover active duty under Title 32 section 502(f) when authorized by the President or Secretary of Defense for the purpose of responding to a national emergency declared by the president and supported by federal funds.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill currently counts time served under Title 10 status (which is under command of the President) toward educational benefits but not time served under Title 32 (which is time served under the command of the state’s governor). Title 32 service includes domestic emergency response activities such as the relief efforts Guard members participated in after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.