New Legislation Would Help Nearly 600 Service Members in Colorado, 30,000 National Guardsmen and Women Nationwide
Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on Bill - Bennet Urges Swift Approval
Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, today announced new legislation that would bring full education benefits to National Guard members whose service is not currently covered by the new GI bill. Senator Mark Udall cosponsored the legislation.
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 legislation would update the Post 9/11 GI Bill to provide educational benefits to those members of the National Guard who do not currently receive full benefits despite having served in active duty. Those who would benefit from the update include nearly 600 service members in Colorado and 30,000 nationwide.
"Our message to all our troops needs to be: if you sign up to defend your country, we're going to make sure you have access to the full benefits you deserve," said Bennet. "But that's simply not the case under current law. This bill will help to create a clear, 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."
"Our National Guard members shoulder a heavy burden between their civilian jobs and their service in the military. They are available at a moment's notice to protect us here at home - whether that means responding to hurricanes or wildfires, or helping patrol the border or the skies," Senator Udall said. "If you are a member of the Guard who served us here at home, you deserve the same access to benefits that any other active duty service members has, and this bill ensures that will happen."
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.
Other homeland security missions include Operation Jump Start, which deployed National Guard members to secure the U.S.-Mexico border from 2007 to 2008, and Operation Noble Eagle, an initiative by U.S. Northern Command to monitor and protect North American skies after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
As the government begins to distribute benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Bennet introduced, and Udall cosponsored, this commonsense legislation to amend the bill to make Title 32 service eligible for full education benefits.
The bill has been referred to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. Today, the committee held a hearing to discuss the legislation. In a statement, Bennet urged the committee to swiftly approve the legislation.