Key victories for Malmstrom, Montana Air National Guard, service members head to President’s desk

Tester secures critical improvements for service members and Montana in 2015 National Defense Authorization Act

(U.S. Senate) – The U.S. Senate today approved key improvements for Malmstrom Air Force Base, the Montana Air National Guard and Montana service members championed by Senator Jon Tester.

“Montana plays a key role in our national defense, and these provisions strengthen Malmstrom, the Montana Air National Guard and Montana service members,” Tester said. “Our state has a long-standing military heritage, and these measures safeguard our traditions while securing our nation and supporting Montana families and communities.”

Included in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act is a Tester and Senator John Walsh provision that authorizes the modernization of Montana’s C-130H fleet, which will ensure the aircraft remains a viable long-term mission for the Montana Air National Guard.

The bill also provides needed modernization funding for all of the 450 ICBM silos nationwide and requires the empty silos stay in “warm” status throughout the duration of the New START Treaty – ensuring that Malmstrom will have the necessary flexibility to perform required maintenance on its ICBM silos.

Additionally, the bill includes Tester’s bipartisan Reserve Retirement Deployment Credit Correction Act that will finally ensure that National Guard and Reserve members from Montana and elsewhere get the early retirement credit they have earned through active duty service.

“We are deeply appreciative of the Senator’s tireless efforts to correct reserve retirement credit,” said retired Major General Gus Hargett, President of the National Guard Association of the U.S. (NGAUS). “We have soldiers training today for deployments in Afghanistan, West Africa and elsewhere in the months ahead who will benefit from this change. Next year, NGAUS looks forward to working to secure the same credit for those who have served prior to September 30, 2014.

“NGAUS is also pleased that the bill includes language that allows our Air National Guard C-130s to get off the ground under future FAA and international guidelines. Our gratitude is extended to Senator Tester, who worked to ensure that all viable options for C-130 modernization can be considered.”

The bill also includes a provision based on Tester and Walsh’s Service Members Mental Health Review Act that provides service members with mental health disorders an expert level review during the appeal of their discharge.

“Thanks to Senator Tester’s legislation, veterans who were improperly discharged from the military due to undiagnosed service-related illnesses and injuries can be assured that they’ll have the benefit of a properly trained mental health professional at discharge proceedings,” said veteran Kristofer Goldsmith, who helped bring attention to the issue. “This will benefit veterans from every generation — past, present and future.”

The 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) also:

  • Includes a one percent pay increase for service members.
  • Prohibits another formal round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in 2015.
  • Blocks force reductions in the National Guard.

The bill passed the House of Representatives last week and now heads to the President’s desk.