The House approved the National Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act with a vote of 287-135. The bill allows reservist or National Guard members who are entitled to pay for their service to be eligible for benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Such service includes training, active military service, inactive training, and general duty.
“Not only are these National Guard and Reserve members risking their lives to serve our country, but they’re also forced to put their civilian lives on hold when they’re called up, leaving behind their families and interrupting civilian careers,” Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., sponsor of the bill, said on the House floor. “In some of those settings, they are serving side by side with active-duty members doing similar jobs and facing similar risks, but they’re not earning the same GI Bill benefits as their peers. That’s unacceptable.”
Without this bill, a service member must serve for at least 90 days, not including basic training, to be eligible for some GI Bill benefits. For a full scholarship, the time requirement increases to 36 months. Military members discharged for a service-connected injury is eligible for the full benefits if they served at least 30 days.
The Inequality in the GI Bill For National Guard and Reserves
Currently, not all National Guard deployments allow them to receive GI Bill benefits, nor does the Guardsmen and reservists’ time spent training.
While acknowledging the unfairness Guardsmen and reservists encounter of their ineligibility for GI Bill benefits, most Republicans argued that the bill would be too expensive.
“I agree that Congress must take a hard look at duty-status reform and the potential expansion of benefits regarding reservists, but this bill before us today would be an unwise expansion of benefits,” Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill. “Training has never counted towards eligibility, and members of the Guard and Reserve know that when they sign up.”
The Senate must still vote on the bill that expands the eligibility of the GI Bill for National Guard and Reserves before being sent to the president to be signed into law.
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