Chairman Takano: "It’s time for every day in uniform to count"
Jenni Geurink (202-819-4684)
WASHINGTON, D.C—Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D-Calif) delivered remarks on the House floor in support of Rep. Levin’s bill, H.R. 1836, as amended, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021. This legislation rectifies a disparity by ensuring that every day National Guard and Reserve members spend in uniform—including training days—counts toward vital GI Bill benefits.
See video of Chairman Takano’s remarks here
Chairman Takano’s remarks as prepared:
I rise today in support of H.R. 1836, as amended, Representative Levin’s Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021.
This bill is a long-needed fix to the unequal treatment of members of the guard and reserve for GI Bill purposes. Under current law guard and reservists do not accrue education benefits the same as their active duty counterparts, even when they are carrying out the same duties and taking on the same risks.
We live in a new age of national defense where we utilize the total force concept with an operational reserve, not a strategic reserve. We rely each day on Guard and Reservists to protect and defend our country.
As we observed the anniversary of the January 6th attack on the Capitol, we were reminded of the brave Guard and Reserve troops who deployed to protect Congress, our staffs, and the foundation of our democracy.
We continue to rely on our reserve components throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to activate and support public health response efforts across the country. The National Guard has been utilized at unprecedented levels in recent years-and over the past two years, our reserve components have fought wildfires, responded to protests, assisted with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and even helped Afghan refugees settle in the United States.
It’s time the Guard and Reserve benefits reflect the key work they are doing and the need for equity across the total force. It’s time for every day in uniform to count.
The cadence of activations for guard and reservists has increased significantly over the last few years, and with that comes the need to meet mission readiness standards. To prepare for the critical role they fulfill in our national defense, guard and reservists must frequently train, which means more days in uniform, more days away from their civilian life, and more days away from their families.
The GI Bill is a transition benefit to help servicemembers reintegrate in civilian life and close the opportunity gap with their civilian peers. Guard and reserve need this more than ever as they are constantly transitioning between military, civilian employment, and family life, facing continuous disruptions.
This legislation rectifies the disparity and ensures that members of our reserve forces know that every day they commit to our nation counts, and that they will have education benefits waiting for them when they fulfill their commitment.
In both this and the 116th Congress, we reformed and updated the Post-9/11 GI Bill to ensure students who are eligible have easy access to a high-quality education. We’ve implemented strong student protections and are holding bad acting institutions accountable when they fail to meet the standards we set for veteran education.
If servicemembers can step up and do their part day in and day out, while holding down civilian jobs and squeezing in time to take care of their families, then the least we can do here in Congress is to get out of the way of the solution.
There are troubling reports of upticks in suicides among our Guard and Reservists.
One of the best ways we can address veteran health, mental health, and ultimately veteran suicide is by providing veterans with support and a pathway to a successful civilian life. H.R. 1836, as amended will give guard and reservists access to the opportunities that post-secondary education and training provide and improve their reintegration into civilian life.
This legislation is fully paid-for, and uses loan fee provisions that this Congress, and prior Congresses have supported. In addition, even the Republican substitute uses the same offsets!
Besides just being the right thing to do, investing in equitable GI Bill benefits for Guard and Reservists will provide more than a ten-fold return for our country. Who are we to stand in the way of an educational benefit that will only make our country stronger? I can’t wait to see what our servicemembers will do with this opportunity—and I know it will make our country better.
This legislation is endorsed by numerous VSOs, including The American Legion, The VFW, Student Veterans of America, National Guard Association of the United States, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, and Reserve Officers of America. I ask unanimous consent to insert letters of support from The American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Guard Association of the United States, Military-Veterans Advocacy, and Reserve Officers of America.
I wish to thank Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer for considering this legislation today, and I urge the rest of my colleagues to support this legislation to ensure every day a Guard or Reservist spends in uniform counts toward earning vital GI Bill benefits.
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