08.10.20

Leahy Joins Bipartisan Letter To Urge Defense Dept. And VA To Restore Full Education Benefits For Guard Members And Reservists

WASHINGTON (MONDAY, Aug. 10, 2020) – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) today announced that the Office of Secretary of Defense (OSD) will work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to enable members of the Guard and Reserve to concurrently use Federal Tuition Assistance and GI Bill benefits to fund their education, similar to active duty servicemembers. This achieves the goals of Hoeven and Boozman’s bill, the Montgomery GI Bill Parity Act, which Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) joined as original cosponsors.

In addition, Hoeven last year led a bipartisan group of senators in urging Defense Secretary Mark Esper to address the issue, and the senator has since been actively working with the OSD to reverse the 2014 Department of Defense decision that prohibited this concurrent use for Reserve component servicemembers. Today’s announcement will enable Guard and Reserve members to receive the full education benefits to which they are entitled, and OSD expects the change to become effective by the end of the year.

“The National Guard and Reserve components are a central part of our nation’s defense, both at home and abroad, and our efforts were all about ensuring these servicemembers can access the benefits they have earned,” Senator Hoeven said. “We appreciate the administration for working with us to restore the full education benefits for our Guard and Reserve members, and we look forward to the policy change being fully implemented later this year.”

“I’m pleased the Department of Defense has updated its policy to provide National Guard and Reserve members the access to education benefits they have earned in the manner Congress intended. This is a commonsense solution that will allow all servicemembers the same opportunities to fund their education,” Senator Boozman said.

“I’m glad to see that the Department has found a way to restore parity to the Montgomery GI Bill’s application. The educational opportunities provided to men and women in the Guard are both a thank you for their volunteering to serve, and a smart investment in future leaders of our military and of their communities,” Senator Leahy said.

“Creating more ways for our troops to receive an education helps them become better, smarter soldiers and airmen and build better lives for themselves after they serve. It also helps our military leaders recruit the next generation of service-members,” Senator Cramer said. “I am glad to see the Defense Department following the provision I authored in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act which strongly encouraged the Department to take this action. I hope it is swiftly implemented, and I urge the Trump Administration to continue finding ways to improve the lives and well-being of our troops.”

###