Begich Bill Eases Travel Burden for Guard & Reserve Members
“TRIP” Act Increases Reimbursement for Drill-Related Travel Costs
Continuing his strong support of Alaska’s National Guard and Reserve members, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has introduced legislation to ease the burden of travel costs on Guard and Reserve members when travelling hundreds of miles to fulfill their monthly training requirements.
The Travel Reimbursement for Inactive Duty Training Personnel (TRIP) Act adjusts limits and reimbursement rates associated with travel for inactive duty drill time, an issue that has been especially challenging for Alaska Guard and Reserve members.
“We ask so much of our Guard and Reserve members and their families,” Begich said. “Of course we should pay for the travel costs for the men and women who are training to defend our nation when called. It’s the right thing to do.”
Current law and regulations limit reimbursement for travel to actual expenses incurred for anything over 300 miles round-trip. A trip less than 300 miles isn’t reimbursed at all, and there is no reimbursement for air travel, even when driving is not an option.
“Our Guard and Reserve members live across our unique and vast state. Some live in Anchorage or Fairbanks or Bethel. Some live in more remote areas and must travel hundreds of miles to get to their duty station,” Begich said. “Many of them don’t get adequate reimbursement for that travel and some don’t get reimbursed at all.”
This bill, introduced Monday, is another example of Sen. Begich’s efforts to assist members of the Guard and Reserve. He was a recent recipient of the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Eagle Award for his work on successfully expanding space-available travel benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserve Component in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (view here).
Begich’s TRIP Act has three major provisions:
• Allow Guard & Reserve members to be reimbursed at the IRS business rate (56.5 cents per mile) for travel to drill duty;
• Lower the mileage threshold from 300 miles round trip to 100 miles roundtrip (allowing someone in Wasilla to get reimbursed for drill duty in Anchorage); and
• For the first time allow reimbursement for air travel when there is no driving option.
More than 5,000 National Guard & Reserve members in Alaska could benefit from the bill.
The TRIP Act is cosponsored by Sen. Jon Tester and Sen. Ron Wyden.