By Debbie Gregory.
In a move that is long overdue, two bills in front of Congress could be a big boon for Guard and Reserve members.
Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act contains two no-cost initiatives that would honor their service by granting “veteran” status to 200,000 Reserve and National Guard retirees who, according to federal law, do not technically qualify as veterans.
Many civilians are surprised to learn that this is not a done deal for those who serve. While there are benefits for serving in the Guard and Reserve, they do differ from those who served in the active duty forces.
Honor America’s Guard-Reserve Retirees Act, (in the House- H.R. 1384, in the Senate- S 743) has been around for a while, but now may be closer than ever to being passed. It was introduced by Sen. John Boozman (Rep-AR) in March, 2015.
The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has been hesitant to support the measure out of concern that passage would make retired Guard and reserve members think they are eligible for benefits they have not earned.
The second initiative would make an increased number of former Reserve and Guard members eligible for veteran preference.
Veterans preference recognizes the sacrifices made by those who serve, giving them preference over non-Veterans in both Federal hiring practices and in retention during reductions in force. Preference applies in hiring for many positions within the Federal competitive service, and provides a uniform method by which special consideration is given to qualified Veterans.
If an individual signs on, devotes years of his or her life to being ready to serve at a moment’s notice, they should receive the respect given to veterans.
These men and women served honorably and should not be penalized simply because their country did not call them up to active duty for the full requisite period of time.