Congressman Dave Loebsack has introduced a bill that would extend education benefits to thousands of National Guard soldiers who don’t currently qualify for the program. “Essentially the New G.I. Bill of Rights that we passed last year unintentionally left out about 30,000 members of the National Guard,” Loebsack says. “They are not receiving all of the benefits they have earned.”
Starting last month new education benefits have been extended to Guard soldiers who’ve been on duty overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Loebsack says those who’ve been on extended periods of active duty stateside have been denied those education benefits. “This would extend that to those who, for example, are working on the border with Mexico on Operation JumpStart,” Loebsack says, “so it’s (for) Homeland Security deployments.”
Loebsack, a Democrat from Mount Vernon, says Guard soldiers who did airport security stints or provided airspace security immediately after the 9/11 attacks as well as those who went to the Gulf Coast to help the region recover from Hurricane Katrina were on long-term duty, but a glitch in the new G.I. Bill did not give them the education benefits they deserve according to Loebsack.
“This was really quite unintentional in the original act so we need to incorporate them, obviously, into this,” Loebsack says. “It’s also for those folks in the Guard and Reserve who have been discharged with service-connected disability and they have not been covered up to this point either.”
Loebsack says the move will “help make this generation of veterans part of our nation’s economic recovery” by helping them get a college degree. The bill is headed to the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee where Loebsack expects his “National Guard Education Equality Act” to get approval. The American Legion, the V.F.W, the National Guard Association and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America all support the legislation.