National Guard Chief Backs Tester’s Effort to Increase Education Benefits for Montana Guardsmen

Senator Secures Critical Commitments for Montana National Guard

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today secured a critical endorsement for his legislation to increase education benefits for Montana National Guardsmen.

General Joseph Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, endorsed Tester’s Educational Development (ED) for Troops and Veterans Act during an Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing. Tester’s bill will provide education benefits to Guardsmen and Reservists who often have to leave behind schools, jobs, and homes to serve their country.

“When a citizen soldier or airman deploys with their active duty counterparts, they should receive the benefits they have earned,” Tester said. “The National Guard supports this bill because they know that life doesn’t stop for service members when they are training to deploy overseas.”

The ED for Troops and Veterans Act specifically increases education benefits for Guardsmen and Reservists who deploys, defers student loan payments during training for upcoming deployments, provides resources to improve college veteran education centers, and makes tuition assistance for Guardsmen and Reservists more competitive.

Tester also secured support from Lengyel for his legislation that provides the Governor and Montana National Guard Adjutant General more flexibility to convert Military Technicians into civilian status without jeopardizing military readiness.

The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act requires the transfer of up to 119 of Montana’s 510 full-time National Guard military technicians to civilian employees-removing them from their dual, state and federal, mission status.

Lengyel sided with Tester during the hearing, who believes removing these technicians from their dual mission status could impact the Governor’s ability to swiftly deploy them during a flood, wildfire, or other state emergency.

Tester additionally called on Lengyel to produce a new equipment sharing agreement between the 219th RED HORSE Squadron of the Montana Air National Guard and the 819th RED HORSE Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base. Lengyel supported Tester’s equipment sharing request, which will improve disaster response capabilities for the 219th RED HORSE Squadron.