Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) released the following statement after co-sponsoring the National Guard Benefits and Parity Act, legislation led by Senators Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.) that would ensure that National Guardsmen and Reservists are entitled to the same benefits as their active-duty counterparts while deployed.
“Nevada has 7,648 Reserve and National Guard members who deserve the same education, retirement and deployment benefits that their active-duty counterparts receive for preforming the same duties” said Cortez Masto. “Our brave service members who put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms need to be assured that they will be treated fairly and receive the benefits they deserve when they come home. I am proud to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation to support our veterans.”
The bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
The 2012 “National Defense Authorization Act” established a new mobilization authority allowing the Department of Defense to deploy Guard and Reserve forces for preplanned missions – known as “12304b” missions – in support of combatant commanders. Although these Reserve Component members perform the same duties as their active-duty counterparts, they were not eligible to receive the same benefits.
The most recent defense authorization bill and the “Forever GI Bill” corrected some of these inequalities, such as eligibility for pre-mobilization health care and transitional healthcare, eligibility for post-9/11 educational assistance, and access to rehabilitation for veterans with service-connected disabilities.
The “National Guard and Reserves Benefit Parity Act” would fix the three remaining issues by:
– Reducing the age at which a Guardsman or Reservist is eligible to receive military retirement pay by three months for every 90 days mobilized under 12304b authority within a single fiscal year;
– Providing officers and enlisted Guardsmen and Reservists with a monthly allowance for each month during which they are deployed, if they meet criteria already defined under other mobilization authorities; and
– Protecting federal civilian employees who are members of the Reserve or National Guard from a reduction in pay when activated by providing a “reservist differential” payment, which already exists under other mobilization authorities.