Senator Amy Klobuchar

Working for the People of Minnesota

National Guard & Reserves

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have highlighted the importance of our brave citizen-soldiers in the National Guard and Reserves - and the unprecedented sacrifices they have been called upon to make. At times, as many as 40 percent of American forces fighting in these wars have been Guard and Reserve soldiers. The repeated mobilization and deployment overseas of Guard and Reserve units has profoundly affected communities across America and particularly the families of these service members. It is imperative that we provide them the support they so clearly deserve.

visiting members of the MN National Guard in Iraq

Sen. Klobuchar visits with members of the Minnesota National Guard during her visit to Iraq

The National Guard and Reserves were not built to serve as an active duty force for prolonged periods of time, yet that is exactly what they have been ordered to do. Guard and Reserve funding and benefits have not gone up correspondingly to match the increased duties. Many Guard members and Reservists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are finding that though they were asked to play the role of first-class soldiers on the battlefield, they are now being treated as second-class veterans at home.

On the home front, many of these Guard and Reserve members suffer a substantial drop in their household incomes, because Guard and Reserve salaries are often not comparable to those in civilian employment. While they are overseas, their families must struggle to make ends meet at home. When the Pentagon repeatedly orders Guard and Reserve members to active duty, as it has done in recent years, the impact extends far beyond the battlefield. We can and should do more to help these citizen-soldiers and their families, while Guard and Reserve members are deployed overseas and after they return home.

Minnesotans know all too well the burden that is being placed on our men and women in the National Guard and Reserve forces. In the summer of 2007, 2,600 members of the Minnesota National Guard returned home from Iraq after serving the longest continuous deployment of any unit in the Iraq war. Upon their return, over half of the members of this unit - the proud "Red Bulls" - learned that, due to government red tape, they were not eligible for the full educational benefits their service merited.

I am committed to recognizing and rewarding the elevated position and importance of the National Guard and Reserves to our national security. As a member of the National Guard Caucus in Congress, I have been steadfast in my support of Minnesota's National Guard, which continues to serve us all proudly both at home and abroad. As a nation and as a state, we have an obligation to wrap our arms around those who serve and sacrifice for us.

As Minnesota's U.S. Senator, I've been working hard to see that we do better for the men and women of the National Guard and Reserves. Since coming to office I have worked successfully to:

  • Modernize GI Bill benefits and give Guard and Reserve members benefits commensurate with their sacrifice and duty. The 21st Century GI Bill, which I cosponsored, would provide enhanced tuition benefits so that any veteran who serves at least three months on active duty will receive benefits to cover the costs of up to 36 months of higher education, depending on their length of service. It would help GI Bill benefits keep pace with the soaring cost of college and also ensure that Guard and Reserve members receive education benefits comparable to those granted to active duty soldiers.
  • Secure $3.52 million in funding for the successful Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program. This program, pioneered by the Minnesota National Guard, helps soldiers make the transition from soldier to civilian life through counseling and other services, and we were able to extend its life with this year's Defense Appropriations bill. In addition, we passed legislation to create a national Yellow Ribbon program based on Minnesota's groundbreaking initiative.
  • Secure over $23 million for facilities that support our National Guard and Reserves. These included the Joint Force headquarters and emergency operations center in Arden Hills, a field maintenance shop in Mankato, a storage facility for the Duluth 148th Air Guard Fighter Wing, and a new training facility at Camp Ripley.
  • Ensure that members of the Minnesota National Guard receive the full educational benefits due to them. I introduced S.2139, the National Guard and Reserve Educational Benefits Fairness Act, which provides educational benefits to members of the National Guard and Reserve based on the length of their actual active-duty service, rather than based on the service dates printed on their orders. This legislation was in direct response to a situation faced by members of the Minnesota National Guard who were denied full educational benefits due to Army guidelines, despite serving in the unit with the longest continuous deployment of any unit in the Iraq war.

But we still have much more work to do to provide our citizen-soldiers the facilities and services they deserve. To build off this progress, I will continue fighting to:

  • Fully implement the National Guard Empowerment Act. This legislation, passed in 2007, will create a position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the National Guard and Reserves to ensure that the elevated role of National Guard members in America's Armed Forces today is recognized in the Pentagon's organizational structure.
  • Provide incentives for employers to hire Guard and Reserve members, and to keep them on payroll during mobilization periods. Guard and Reserve members and their families should not suffer as a result of their willingness to respond to emergencies, and employers should be rewarded for maintaining their commitment to these brave men and women who answer the call to duty.
  • Grant more equitable pay, health care, and retirement pension benefits. As we continue to increase the resources and benefits available to veterans of conflicts past and present, we must work to break through the current segregation of Active Duty and Guard and Reserve benefits and ensure that we provide all service members with the full benefits and assistance they deserve.


Senator Klobuchar’s Offices

302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main Line: 202-224-3244
Main Fax: 202-228-2186
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1200 Washington Avenue South, Suite 250
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Main Line: 612-727-5220
Main Fax: 612-727-5223
Toll Free: 1-888-224-9043

1134 7th Street NW
Rochester, MN 55901
Main Line: 507-288-5321
Fax: 507-288-2922

121 4th Street South
Moorhead, MN 56560
Main Line: 218-287-2219
Fax: 218-287-2930

Olcott Plaza, Suite 105
820 9th Street North
Virginia, MN 55792
Main Line: 218-741-9690
Fax: 218-741-3692