NGAUS to Testify on Importance of Benefit Parity Under 12304b

Washington Report

(June 13, 2017) The mobilization authority known as 12304b gives combatant commanders easy access to the reserve components, but it comes at the expense of denying National Guardsmen and Reservists benefits that all other deployed troops receive.

That is the message retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president, is set to deliver Thursday, when he testifies before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Established in 2012, 12304b is a provision in U.S. law that enables the services on their own to mobilize the Guard and Reserve for continuing overseas operations. However, it does not provide the benefits conveyed under other mobilization authorities.

Thousands of Guardsmen and Reservists have mobilized to Kosovo, the Sinai Peninsula and other overseas locations under 12304b.

“While our constituency wants to serve in any capacity, we believe that they should be afforded benefits such as tuition assistance, early retirement credit, transitional health care access and the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits currently not funded under 12304b status,” Robinson said in written testimony already submitted to the committee.

The Defense Department is working to consolidate the 32 statutory authorities in which members of the reserve components may be ordered to perform federal duty. The effort may address the shortcomings of 12304.

But NGAUS is concerned full implementation of duty-status reform will take many years to implement, “leaving thousands more Guardsmen and Reservists without the benefits Congress intended all deployed U.S. troops to receive,” Robinson said.

As a result, he will urge the immediate passage of the Educational Development for Troops and Veterans Act, S. 472, co-sponsored by the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. John Tester of Montana.

NGAUS is one of only a handful of associations asked to testify. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., is committee chairman. The hearing begins at 11 a.m. June 15, It will be live streamed at https://www.veterans.senate.gov(link is external).