Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Vic Snyder today filed a Total Force G.I. Bill (H.R.6250) which aims to get educational benefits for the National Guard and Reserve who have been called to serve on active duty on par with those of Active Duty soldiers. Representatives Bob Filner (CA-51) and Stephanie Herseth (SD-at Large), both Veterans Affairs Committee Members, served as original cosponsors.
Members of the Guard and Reserve components of our Armed Forces continue to make an essential contribution to support our missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world. Although Reservists are being called to duty and mobilized for an average of 18 months, when they leave the Selected Reserves they do not receive the same educational benefits as the Active Duty soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that they serve alongside. Additionally, MGIB benefits for Reserve members have not kept up with the increases in the MGIB for Active Duty. The current MGIB-SR benefit is only 29 percent of the MGIB; historically the difference has been 47 percent.
“The contributions made by Guard and Reservists called to active duty is just as significant as those of our Active Duty military, and it is important that we provide the same benefits for their time in combat as those we provide for their Active Duty counterparts who serve in combat,” said Congressman Vic Snyder. “Nearly every unit in the Arkansas Guard and many Arkansans who serve in the Air National Guard, Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve and Marine Reserve have been mobilized to support our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan at least once. It is time for Congress to seriously address the disparity in benefits between Active Duty and Reserve component members.”
“Nearly 62 years have passed since the enactment of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, the landmark legislation commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights,” said Congressman Filner. “Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the Montgomery GI Bill, an equally important measure that updated the original GI Bill. Now is the time to develop a Total Force GI Bill for the 21st century.”
“Since the MGIB was enacted more than 20 years ago, our nation’s utilization of the Reserve forces has dramatically increased. Indeed, today’s citizen-soldiers are serving with distinction and have sacrificed a great deal in our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. These patriots have earned and deserve high quality education and training benefits to be used in a fair and equitable manner,” Rep. Stephanie Herseth said.
The Total Force GI Bill would consolidate the Active Duty and Selected Reserve Montgomery G.I. Bill programs under one authority by transferring them into the jurisdiction of the Veterans Affairs Committee and the Veterans Administration.
The bill would also create a rule of proportionality for Selected Reserve MGIB benefits. Any increase to the MGIB for Active Duty would be matched by an increase to the Selected Reserve benefit equal to 35% of that amount.
Third, the legislation would make the current Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) available even if the soldier leaves the Reserves. REAP provides an extra payment for those Reservists who served on active duty but, unlike the Active Force, Reservists lose their benefit if they leave the military.
Finally, it would establish a 10 year limit on the eligibility and use of the Selected Reserve MGIB for those who qualify for non-regular retirement and separate from the Selected Reserve. This change would resemble the MGIB benefit for Active Duty. The current GI Bill prohibits Reserve or National Guard members deployed on active duty to access educational benefits once they leave the Reserves. Active Duty troops have up to 10 years to use the educational benefits.
Congressman Filner is currently the acting ranking member on the Veterans Affairs Committee. Congresswoman Herseth is the ranking member on the VA Economic Opportunity Subcommittee. Congressman Vic Snyder is ranking member of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee.