March 11, 2024

Rep. Levin, Ranking Member Takano Introduce Bipartisan Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act

Press Contact

Libby Carlson

WASHINGTON, DC – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Levin (CA-49) has reintroduced the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2024 (HR 7543) to ensure National Guard and Reservist servicemembers receive Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility for every day they spend in uniform.

The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act was also introduced in the 116th and 117th Congresses and passed the House in 2022 with bipartisan support. It ensures that Guard and Reservists receive credit for every day they spend in uniform in a federal duty status under Titles 10 or 32 for GI Bill purposes. This means every day conducting operations, training, attending military schools, conducting weekend drill and annual training requirements, or responding to national disasters would count towards earning the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

“All servicemembers, no matter whether they serve in the active or reserve components, deserve benefits for doing their jobs and risking their lives for our freedoms,” said Rep. Levin. “Our bill would ensure that servicemembers in the National Guard and Reserves, who spring into action during national emergencies at a moment’s notice, get crucial GI Bill benefits and that every day they spend in uniform counts toward those benefits. They deserve parity in their GI Bill benefits and nothing less.”

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Takano said, “I’m proud to partner with Rep. Mike Levin in reintroducing this long-overdue step towards genuine equity between our nation’s servicemembers. Through natural disasters, a global pandemic, and an insurrection, members of the Reserve Component have consistently supported our country through crises. Despite often working alongside Active Duty servicemembers, exercising the same responsibilities and taking on the same risks, Reserve Components benefits policy fails to reflect the shift from a Strategic Reserve to an Operational Reserve. This unfairly puts National Guard and Reserve Component servicemembers at a disadvantage when receiving benefits. By expanding eligibility for the educational assistance included in the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2024 guarantees members receive credit and benefits for every day they spend in uniform.”

The education benefits provided by the GI Bill date back to 1944.  It serves as a critical tool in helping servicemembers transition back into civilian life and close the opportunity gap created by military service with their civilian peers.  Reserve Component servicemembers have seen training and deployment requirements go up significantly in the Post-9/11 era as the National Guard and Reserves have become an Operational Reserve, resulting in many more days away from home and family, while also impacting their civilian careers.  It is time their service is fully recognized with the Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility that they deserve.

Congress has previously addressed GI Bill inequities between Active Duty and Reserve Component servicemembers serving on 12304B duty status, as well as those activated by the federal government to serve on the southern border.  It was glaringly obvious that those servicemembers were doing the same job, enduring the same hardships, and taking the same risks as their Active Duty counterparts, yet they were not receiving the same benefits. The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2024 would universally address this inequity for all duty statuses.

Co-Chair of the House of Representatives’ National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus, Representative Trent Kelly said, “As we continue to honor and support our servicemembers, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act represents a crucial step towards ensuring that VA education benefits align with the evolving nature of military service. This legislation ensures that all those in uniform, regardless of their duty status, have access to the education benefits they deserve. By adapting our policies to the changing landscape of military service, we affirm our commitment to providing comprehensive support for those who serve our country selflessly.”

“When you volunteer to wear our country’s uniform, you deserve the full and unwavering support of a grateful nation. I am proud to support this legislation to deliver our Guard and Reserve servicemembers the VA education benefits they earn every single day,” said Congressman Andy Kim, Co-Chair of the House of Representatives’ National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus. “For the National Guard and Reserve Components serving at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in my district and across the world, we must take this crucial step to close unfair equity gaps our servicemembers face and ensure we’re properly supporting the brave men and women who selflessly protect and defend our nation.”

Rep. Juan Ciscomani said, “Hundreds of thousands of men and women serve in the National Guard and National Guard Reserve; they deserve access to the same post-9/11 GI benefits as their active-duty counterparts. I look forward to working with Rep. Levin and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to deliver for our veterans and servicemembers of all branches in the Armed Forces.”

In the Senate, The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act is sponsored by the Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Senator Jerry Moran, and cosponsored by the Chairman, Senator Jon Tester.

“In recent years, the National Guard and Reserve component have been called on more than ever to serve on behalf of the federal government,” said Sen. Jerry Moran. “This legislation would make certain that guardsmen and reservists who are performing the same services as active duty servicemembers are eligible for the same GI Bill benefits. Every day in uniform is a day in service to this nation.”

“Generations of men and women who served our country relied on the GI Bill to help get an education, and today’s servicemembers have earned the same,” said Sen. Jon Tester, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Right now, too many deserving men and women aren’t eligible for GI Bill benefits, so our bipartisan legislation will ensure Guard and Reserve members who serve their country will get the educational benefits they’ve earned.”

The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act is sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Levin (CA-49) and cosponsored by:

  • Rep. Trent Kelly (MS-01)
  • Rep. Andy Kim (NJ-03)
  • Rep. Juan Ciscomani (AZ-06)
  • Rep. Mark Takano (CA-49)
  • Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP)
  • Rep. Frank Mrvan (IN-01)
  • Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-04)
  • Rep. Mike Lawler (NY-17)
  • Rep. Derrick Van Orden (WI-03)
  • Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01)

The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act has the support of:

-         The Veterans of Foreign Wars

-         The American Legion

-         Student Veterans of America

-         National Guard Association of the United States

-         The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States

-         The Reserve Organization of America.

-         The Military Officers Association of America

-         The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

-         Veteran Education Success

These Veteran Service Organizations provided the following statements:

“Education is one of the greatest investments we can make in our servicemembers and their future,” said retired Maj Gen. Francis M. McGinn, NGAUS president. “The GI Bill has proven to be one of the most transformational policies for the force passed in the 20th century. It is far past time that this benefit apply equally to the active and reserve components. We thank the House and Senate committees for recognizing this as an issue and for your work to create parity.”

"The National Guard and Reserve play an indispensable role in various operations, including disaster relief efforts, homeland security missions, and overseas deployments. Their flexibility and readiness are crucial in responding to natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and floods, providing essential support to affected communities," said Tammy Barlet, Vice President of Government Affairs, with Student Veterans of America (SVA). “The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2024 is a crucial piece of legislation that addresses a longstanding disparity in educational benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve components of the U.S. Military. Ultimately, it honors the commitment of these servicemembers by affording them the opportunity to pursue higher education and achieve their career goals. We thank Ranking Member Levin of the HVAC Economic Opportunity Subcommittee for his tireless work to make every day in uniform count the same for everyone who wears it."

“When reserve component servicemembers perform the identical job and make the same sacrifices as their active duty counterparts, they should be recognized with the same benefits,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO. “The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act expands essential education benefits and acknowledges the reserve component’s essential contributions to our nation.”

“I stand firmly with our National Guard and Reserve members, advocating relentlessly for the passage of the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act. It is high time we recognized and rectified the disparities in benefits our service members face. There is no one around the globe performing more astronomical feats and sacrificing more for our way of life and the United States of America than our members of the National Guard,” said Master Sergeant (Retired) Daniel Reilly, President of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. “When you look at the output of accomplishments, no one can argue that. National Guard members are constantly putting themselves and their families in harm’s way by going head-on into global pandemics, domestic operations, natural disaster relief efforts, championing peace during civil unrest, protecting our nation by deploying overseas at extraordinary rates, working around the clock for border protection missions, creating enduring relationships that improve interoperability around the world through the State Partnership Program and combating fentanyl and other illicit drugs through the Counterdrug Program. The well-being and quality of life of those who dedicate themselves to our nation's security must no longer be sidelined but made a top priority. This act is not just about fairness; it's a testament to our commitment to ALL who serve. Let's ensure our Guardsmen and Reservists receive the full benefits they rightfully deserve. It's a matter of honor, respect, and duty."

“The GI Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history. Unfortunately, members of the Reserve and National Guard face disadvantages in accessing its benefits,” said the Reserve Organization of America’s executive director, retired Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey E. Phillips. “The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act recognizes the increased demands placed on reserve servicemembers by ensuring every day in uniform counts towards Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility. ROA was pleased to see this bill pass the House in the 117th Congress and urges the 118th to send it to the president’s desk for signature.”

"National Guard and Reserve members train alongside active duty service members and consistently make sacrifices without always earning the same VA education benefits. The VFW strongly supports the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2024 to ensure equity of benefits for Reserve component service members. This bill would allow any day in uniform receiving military pay to count toward Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility. For years, the sacrifices of Guard and Reserve service members have been overlooked in achieving GI Bill eligibility. The time is now for parity with all the armed forces in earning VA education benefits," said Kristina Keenan, Deputy Legislative Director, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"On behalf of our 1.6 million dues-paying members, The American Legion shares its full support of the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act. This timely legislation will ensure the contributions of our National Guard and Reserve Servicemembers earn the same education opportunities as their active-duty counterparts currently receive. Ensuring opportunity following service to country is a meaningful way to make strides to resolve our recruiting crisis, " said John W. Bowen, Sr, Chairman of The American Legion National Veterans Employment & Education Commission.

"TAPS fully endorses the Guard/Reserve GI Bill Parity Act. As an organization that was founded on the loss of a member of the Alaska National Guard, TAPS fully understands just how important our Guard and Reserve components are to military readiness. Every day in uniform should count towards GI Bill eligibility to ensure our Guard and Reserve members are eligible for the same benefits as their active duty counterparts,” said Bonnie Carroll, Founder & President, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

“We strongly support counting every day of military service towards earning education benefits, and we call on Congress to address this long overdue issue. It is time to pass the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act without delay,” said William Hubbard, Vice President for Veterans & Military Policy at Veterans Education Success.