(October 3, 2017) NGAUS has asked leaders of the armed services committees in the Senate and House to include several items important to the National Guard in the final version of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.
The letter from retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, the association president, mentions eight provisions from the House and Senate versions of the bill. The final bill must be approved by both chambers before it can be sent to the White House for the president’s signature.
It was sent to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the committee’s ranking member.
Robinson’s letter asks lawmakers to support a change in the mobilization authority known as 12304b to provide TRICARE health care to reserve-component members before and after mobilizations just as it does now for active-component troops. The letter calls benefit parity “a significant readiness issue for the Department of Defense and the nation.”
A feasibility study on the implementation of mental-health care for Guard and Reserve members is also a NGAUS priority. Robinson says this type of care could reduce the suicide rate in the reserve component.
The association also supports allowing the Defense Department to provide service members with certificates recognizing certain training that might help them when seeking professional licenses for civilian employment.
Other items pushed by NGAUS for inclusion in the final bill would add five UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to the Army Guard and study the possible use of remotely piloted aircraft during natural disasters, search-and-rescue missions and other domestic emergencies.
Robinson says inclusion of these eight provisions “are critical for ensuring that our members have the tools and the benefits needed to continue to carry out their Total Force mission.”