Joint Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the U.S. Senate and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives at 1:00 p.m. CDT.
Witness Testimony of Hon. Robert Brady, a Representative in Congress from the State of Pennsylvania
Since 1990, reservists have been involuntarily activated by the federal government six times, an average of once every two and one-half years. Our nation has called on its armed forces to place themselves at risk in far away places, in furtherance of our national interests. In the tradition of the American citizen soldier, many of our neighbors and loved ones have answered the call and are serving with distinction in Afghanistan, Iraq and other theaters. The post-September 11 mobilization has been the largest since the Gulf War.
According to a Rand study by the Defense Department, 28 percent of activated reservists lost income during their last deployment. These losses occur due to differences between the reservists’ military and civilian pay, expenses incurred by reservists because of mobilization, and the decline in business experienced by self-employed reservists during and after release from active duty.
One survey sponsored by the Department of Defense (DOD) indicated that as many as two-thirds of the reservists activated during Operation Desert Shield/Storm suffered economic loss as a result of their deployment. Another DOD sponsored survey indicated that the potential for income loss during activation was a major concern for both officers and enlisted personnel in the Reserves and National Guard.
Recognizing that fact, the House Veterans Affairs Committee has undertaken a bi-partisan effort to strengthen service members’ rights. I am in full support of these efforts, which will go a long way to protecting the rights of active duty and mobilized reserve and guard personnel. But even more can be done. That is why I am introducing the H.R. 513 ‘‘National Heroes Credit Protection Act.’’
This measure will require that credit reporting agencies add notations to the credit files of active duty military personnel, including reserves and guards forces, indicating that late and slow payments to existing accounts occurred during, and because of their mobilization. In the future, creditors would be prohibited from denying or downgrading credit to personnel because of a notated file.
No military personnel should ever suffer financial hardship for answering the call.