While tens of thousands of National Guard and Reserve personnel remained mobilized across the country to coronavirus response missions, lawmakers are pushing to expand their military benefits once the job is done.
In recent days, congressional leaders have come up with new plans to expand veteran home loans to more guards, cut some medical co-payments for their families, and improve job training programs for their post-military careers.
The measures come just weeks after a Senate panel included allocation plans risk premium for guards on a coronavirus pandemic mission. This provision, sponsored by Republican Senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst, could add up to $ 150 in additional salary per month for the more than 46,000 members of the Guard who are currently serving or have already completed these support efforts of the state.
The final adoption of this plan is not expected for several months. It’s unclear whether the Guard’s other proposals will also face similar slow progress in Congress, or whether they could be included in new emergency relief legislation linked to the rapidly spreading virus.
The first proposal – brought forward last week by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Rank member Jon Tester, D-Mont., And rank member from the House Veterans Committee, Phil Roe, R -Tennessee. – would credit military service under Title 32 orders (through which the majority of guards were mobilized) for eligibility for veterans home loans.
Currently, these troops are only eligible for the Federal Least Cost Loan program if they are mobilized under separate Title 10 orders, or if they have already completed six years of military service.
In a statement, Moran said the move would better honor the current efforts of part-time troops in the face of a national crisis and “give them better home ownership to live the American dream after service.”
In recent days, the tester has also called on the Defense Ministry to waive all health care premiums for guards returning to reserve status after their coronavirus missions, calling officials a similar responsibility to recognize the sacrifice of troops.
These members and their families have access to certain Tricare medical benefits while on active duty, but individuals are required to pay two months of premiums in advance to maintain health care coverage under the Tricare Reserve Select program.
“At a time when access to health care is of the utmost importance to Americans and their families, military personnel should not have to worry about this potentially heavy expense when they return home from their sacrifices for keep their country healthy, ”Tester wrote in a recent letter. to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
On Monday, a bipartisan group of House members including Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, New York Army National Guard Capt. Max Rose, DN.Y., and retired Corps veteran of Marines Mike Bost, R-Ill. – introduced new legislation to provide new vocational training for “in-demand” jobs for guards and reservists within 180 days of separation from the military.
Last month, the national unemployment rate for veterans was 8.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That figure was an improvement from the May rate and significantly lower than the national rate of 11.1%, but still more than double the level reported for veterans in the months leading up to the pandemic.
Axne said in a statement that the new professional training programs would ensure that part-time troops who have put their lives on hold for months to respond to the national crisis are “given the same gratitude and the same opportunities for successful growth. than other members of our army. forces.”
Additional custody and reserve provisions could be introduced in the coming weeks, as the entire House and Senate continue to work on their annual defense authorization bills.