Tester, Blackburn Introduce Bill to Provide GI Benefits to National Guard and Reserve Servicemembers

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation would address benefits disparity by expanding Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility

U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation this week to provide parity in G.I. Bill benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserves who increasingly conduct similar training and missions as active duty troops, but do not receive equal benefits.

Since 9/11, the Reserve Component has become an integral part of U.S. defense plans as an operational reserve, a change from its traditional role as a strategic reserve. Servicemembers from the Active and Reserve Components often train and serve alongside each other, such as deployments to disasters like wildfires, but do not receive equal benefits. The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2020 would aim to address this disparity by expanding eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill to count every day that a servicemember is paid and in uniform toward benefit eligibility.

“Members of the National Guard and Reserve deserve GI benefits that reflect their increased services to our nation,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “These folks continue to answer the call of duty, and have been waiting years for the government to do right by them. Our bipartisan, bicameral bill addresses this inequity, and follows through on our commitment to ensure these men and women receive the education benefits they have earned and deserve.”

“We could not provide for our national defense if it were not for the service of our guardsmen and women,” said Blackburn. “From protecting our southern border to aiding in the wake of national disasters, our National Guard and Reserve components serve an integral role in our military community, and they ought to be fully compensated for their service each and every day they wear their uniform.”

“The men and women of the National Guard work tirelessly alongside their active-duty and reservist counterparts, often accomplishing the exact same mission but receiving very different benefits,” said Daniel Elkins, Legislative Director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. “The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2020 will help ensure fair and equal treatment to all servicemembers, regardless of duty status.”

“The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) thanks Sen. Tester and Sen. Blackburn for introducing the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2020 which provides Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility to all days of service, including Title 32,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, President of NGAUS. “Efforts like these not only help the National Guard recruit and retain our dedicated servicemembers but continue to honor their sacrifice through ensuring they have access to robust educational benefits. We urge quick consideration and passage of this critical piece of legislation.”

Tester has continuously worked to modernize and strengthen education benefits for veterans and their families. Last Congress, he introduced the Post-9/11 GI Bill Transferability Entitlement Act to ensure that every veteran with at least 10 years of service is able to transfer their educational benefits to dependents. He has also been fighting to cut down on excessive bureaucracy through his bipartisan GI Bill Work Study Improvement Act of 2019, which streamlines the processing and administration of VA benefits through the VA Work-Study Allowance Program. The program allows student veterans—whether on campus, at VA facilities or at other veteran-centered organizations—to earn money at a second job while getting an education.

The bill text can be found HERE.