Legislation Could Extend GI Bill to More Guardsmen
By Air Force Senior Airman Jameel S. Moses
Special to American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 16, 2009 More than 30,000 additional National Guard members may become eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill with the help of bipartisan legislation introduced Sept. 10.
U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack of Iowa has introduced a bill that proposes a change to the GI Bill eligibility rules to include National Guard members called to active duty in support of homeland security.
"Essentially, the new GI Bill of Rights that we passed last year unintentionally left out about 30,000 members of the National Guard," Loebsack said on Radio Iowa. "They are not receiving all of the benefits they have earned."
The current Post-9/11 GI Bill, which began Aug. 3, extends benefits only to servicemembers serving under Title 10 duty status, but the proposed law would cover those serving under Title 32 in homeland security roles. Both duty statuses are paid with federal dollars, but under Title 32, the state governor maintains control of National Guard forces.
"Our National Guard members who participate in disaster response, protection of U.S. airspace, border security and many other critical missions deserve the Post-9/11 GI benefits and the opportunities that come with those benefits," Loebsack said. "As a former college professor, I know and understand the many doors an education can open. A small technical error will not and should not get in the way of opening those doors.”
The bill also covers reserve-component servicemembers who have been discharged with a service-connected disability, because they’re not covered under current law, he added. Servicemembers discharged under Title 10 with a service-connected disability are provided a full, four-year college education, but Guard members discharged under Title 32 aren’t eligible.
The bill, which has 22 co-sponsors, has been referred to the House Veterans Affairs Committee. The committee isn't expected to pass new GI Bill-related legislation until next year.
(Air Force Senior Airman Jameel S. Moses serves in the National Guard Bureau.)