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Begich Supports National Guard Education Equality Act

Bill recognizes service of National Guard members

In an effort to provide equity for the thousands of men and women who serve in the National Guard, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is co-sponsoring the National Guard Education Equality Act. The law makes sure the 35,000 National Guard members who serve our country while under the command of a state governor, get the same educational benefits under the new GI Bill as those serving under federal direction.

"It shouldn't matter who's commanding the mission, National Guard members serving our country and putting themselves in harm's way deserve the same educational benefits as other service men and women," Begich said. "This legislation fixes a technical error in the Post 9/11 GI Bill and ensures equity for service."

Currently, National Guard members who serve under Title 32, answering to the command of their state's governor, are not eligible for the educational benefits under the new GI Bill even if they served on active duty and were paid by the federal government to protect the nation's borders, airspace, airports, military facilities, and areas hit by disaster. The law only provides the benefits to those classified as Title 10 missions when determining eligibility for the GI benefits.

When the benefits began being distributed in early August, the error was discovered as thousands of Guard members did not receive education benefits they were expecting.

"Clearly this is an oversight. Often these are missions involving homeland security, or in the case of Alaska, they include critical life saving search and rescue missions. They are essential to protecting our citizens, and should be counted toward GI Bill eligibility."

Examples of Title 32 service not currently covered include airport security following the 9/11 attacks; protection of U.S. airspace; response to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina; border security; and counter-drug activity.

The National Guard Education Equality Act fixes the technical error in the Post 9/11 GI Bill, by including Title 32 service and by providing a full four-year college education to members of the National Guard who have been discharged under Title 32 with a service-connected disability. The bill is endorsed by several organizations including the American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the National Guard Association of the United States, and more.

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