19 Feb Guardsmen & Reservists Could See Substantial Increases In Hazard Pay & Education Benefits Under New Plans
Guardsmen and reservists could see substantial increasees in their pay and benefits under a new set of legislative proposals that were presented by lawmakers in the recent weeks.
The plans have bipartisan support and follow on recent efforts by elected officials to ensure that the part-time service members — whose roles and responsibilities have dramatically expanded in recent years — are receiving full credits for their work.
On Tuesday, a group of Republican and Democratic senators introduced a new guideline to mandate Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay for guardsmen and reservists equal that of active-duty troops. The money is given to highly-skilled individuals certified in military specialties such as parachute jumping, detonations, and flight deck logistics.
Currently, the part-time troops receive a small fraction of what their full-time counterparts get, which can total up to $250 a month depending on the specialty. Supporters of the new measures noted that all troops who qualify for the increase are required to maintain the same qualifications and training, regardless how much they actually receive.
Companion legislation has already been introduced in the House. Officials don’t know how many troops may be affected by the change, but the move could give several service members thousands more a year in pay.
That proposal was introduced just a few days after a similar bipartisan, bicameral plan to ensure “parity in GI Bill benefits” to guardsmen and reservists. Supporters of that idea noted that even though troops from active and reserve components often train and serve alongside each other on a variety of deployments, that time in service is not counted equally for veterans education benefits.
That issue was brought to light in recent years with the controversial border patrol missions in several southern states. Part-time troops deployed there were not getting credit for the time served towards their GI Bill eligibility, even though active-duty troops serving beside them were.
The new measure would mandate that every day a guardsman or reservist is “paid and in uniform” count towards the education benefits calculation.
To receive full GI Bill benefits — which include 36 months of in-state college tuition, a monthly living stipend and other payouts — individuals are required to have three full years on active duty.
According to the Defense Department, the average Army National Guard soldier serves on duty about 50 days a year, and the average Air National Guard member about 46 days. Reservists average more than 60 days a year. All of those figures are up in recent years.
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Author: Leo Shane III