MTN News: After Tester Effort, National Guard members fighting coronavirus crisis start receiving benefits

The Department of Defense has agreed to provide federal support and benefits for National Guard members activated during the COVID-19 crisis, after a push from U.S. Senator Jon Tester.

Following Tester’s letter to Defense Secretary Esper last week, President Trump authorized the use of the National Guard under Title 32 status for the three states California, New York, and Washington.

However, Members of the Guard assisting other states with their coronavirus response efforts are still not eligible to receive federal pay, benefits, and protections under current activation.

“The Administration is beginning to support the men and women of the Guard who are risking their lives and health to protect Americans during this pandemic,” said Tester. “This authorization is a step in the right direction, but it ignores the Guardsmen and women fighting the outbreak in Montana and 46 other states.

In some states, National Guard members responding to the COVID-19 pandemic are currently activated on State Active Duty (SAD) orders, and therefore not eligible for the same federal protections and benefits under Title 32.

Tester added, “The Administration needs to do right by these folks by widening the circle to include all members of the Guard who are looking to their government to provide them the benefits they earn while activated.”

Tester is pushing for Title 32 authorization across the country, to allow members of the Guard to be eligible for the following federal benefits:

  • TRICARE medical coverage
  • Access to military hospital facilities
  • Federal worker’s compensation
  • Death gratuities
  • GI Bill eligibility
  • Retirement points for service
  • Servicemember Civil Relief Act protections

“President Trump continues to call this an invisible enemy and has said this is a war to protect the American people,” Tester said. “I agree and would like to see the federal government extend full benefits to the members of the National Guard fighting on the front lines keeping Americans safe and healthy.”