On January 12, 2022, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1836, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021, and it is now received by the Senate. It may not be very easy for it to pass in the Senate because this bill is highly contested by some Republicans.
This bill would change the eligibility requirements for U.S. Reserve and National Guard service members in regard to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
For those unfamiliar with the Post 9/11 GI Bill, it was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008, and the benefits are dependent on the length of federal deployment, not including training. Reservists and guardsmen train one weekend a month and a few weeks a year, but these types of duties do not count toward this benefit; that is the purpose of H.R. 1836, to include training toward these benefits.
Currently a reservist or guardsman would have to be placed on federal deployment orders; and since the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan and decreased the amount of service members in Iraq, the amount of deployed service members decreased dramatically.
I explain this because House Representatives like Mike Bost (R-IL) are concerned about the amount of funding that would be used if and when this bill becomes law. He stated that many of the reserve or guard members already qualify for many of the GI bill benefits when they are called up on federal orders.
This is frustrating because while this is true, the likelihood of qualifying for the Post 9/11 GI Bill has dropped dramatically after the major operations ended. So where will the funding go when there are so few eligible veterans?
What Representative Bost fails to understand is that it could take a while for reserve and guard members to qualify. The eligibility for Post 9/11 GI Bill is a sliding scale, when a service member accrues 90 days of active duty, they will qualify for the VA covering 40 percent of tuition.
For a reservist or guardsman, it would take up to three years of training to qualify for the base benefits. It would take at least 12 years to qualify for 100 percent coverage of tuition; that means a service member could have completed at least two contracts and looking at a third. The highest attrition rate of Reserve and Guard are those in their first contract, so this GI bill would be a big retention tool.
So please, if you agree that the Reserve and Guard members should qualify for this benefit, contact your senators, and tell them to co-sponsor and vote for this bill.