A bipartisan bill is gaining support to address the orders issued for the National Guard members activated to mitigate the impacts of the coronavirus.
The National Guard COVID-19 Earned Benefits Guarantee Act, H.R. 6957, introduced by Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), directs DoD to treat any time served as part of the COVID-19 response by activated members of the National Guard as no less than 90 days.
The 90-day marker is significant because it allows those who responded to the virus to receive credit for early retirement and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
Notably, the bill specifies the National Guard, not the reserve component. The lack of coverage for the reserves is something MOAA addressed directly with Panetta’s office, and The Military Coalition conveyed in a letter calling on the bill to be included in their letter of support to the House Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees.
The growing support for this bill falls in the wake of President Donald Trump’s recent decision to extend the National Guard’s Title 32 orders.
As the fight continues against COVID-19, it is becoming apparent we will see ebbs and flows at the state level. As states begin to reopen, they run the risk of mass outbreaks that could require a rapid response to contain the virus. A single event like a choir practice in Washington led to 52 people infected over the course of a couple hours. If events like this are not caught quickly, the results could prolong necessary preventative measures.
The reserve component will continue to be vital to any response. With the potential for servicemembers to go on and off federal orders several times, they should not run the risk of missing education benefits and retirement credit when responding repeatedly to the national fight against the virus.
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While the President’s tweet is a good sign, a legislative fix is necessary because of the enduring nature of this threat and the need to support the troops on the front lines. Reach out to your representative now seeking their support for this bill, and request they expand this coverage for the entire reserve component.