Sens. Moran, Peters, Lankford, Tester Introduce Bill to Improve Access to Benefits for National Guard and Reservists
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – the lead Republican on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) – joined Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in introducing legislation to help members of the Reserve and National Guard to receive the benefits they have earned following their retirement or completion of service by ensuring they receive the same DD-214 form as other members of the military.
The DD-214 form is often required by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other private sector institutions to certify qualification for benefits after completion of service. The Record of Military Service for Members of the Armed Forces Act of 2021 would establish a single comprehensive document system so that all servicemembers receive the same all-purpose document and that there’s no difference between the active and reserve components.
“Over the past year, the men and women of our National Guard have been called to action numerous times and are still working to keep our country safe,” said Sen. Moran. “Unlike active duty members of the military, these guardsmen are not provided the same comprehensive report documenting their service when they leave the military. This legislative change would provide members of the National Guard and Reserve components a comprehensive service document that they can utilize to more accurately reflect their entire service. This will help them receive the benefits and health care they are entitled to from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.”
“Particularly throughout the past year, National Guardsmen in Michigan and across the country have stepped up to respond to unprecedented crises,” said Sen. Peters. “Reservists and National Guardsmen should be able to access the benefits that are owed to them after they complete their service without having to jump through hoops. This legislation will ensure that all members of the United States military receive full and proper recognition for their service and can receive the benefits that they have earned.”
“I’m glad to join Senator Peters to reintroduce legislation that will help make sure all service members receive an accurate and complete record of their service,” said Sen. Lankford. “National Guardswomen and men and Reservists should have the same form recognizing their service at home and abroad as their active duty counterparts in order for them to seamlessly receive the full benefits promised to them. I am honored to continue to support the women and men who have dedicated their lives to protecting our nation.”
“Far too often, members of our Armed Forces face the unnecessary hassle of having to track down their military service records themselves, creating delays in obtaining their earned benefits and care,” said Sen. Tester. “Our commonsense bill will streamline military records for Guardsmen and Reservists from the Defense Department, ensuring they have the resources to lead full lives without the added stress of having to navigate bureaucratic red tape.”
"The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States would like to express our gratitude to Sen. Peters, Sen. Lankford, Sen. Tester & Sen. Moran for their hard work and dedication to the National Guard and their efforts to ensure our service is properly documented," said Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Karen Craig, President of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. "Ensuring that servicemembers' military careers' are appropriately documented is fundamental when seeking benefits through federal and state levels. It will also serve to highlight their military career when seeking employment."
“The DD214 is the document the VA, state agencies and private businesses almost always request to confirm military service,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Robinson, the president of the National Guard Association of the United States. “Active-component service members get DD214s when they leave military service, but Guardsmen and Reservists do not. They receive other documents that are not well known. This legislation will provide all service members, regardless of component, with the same proof of military service. It should also align cross-component personnel management. It’s long overdue. We applaud Senator Peters, Senator Lankford, Senator Tester, and Senator Moran for their initiative on this.”
“Time and again, the members of our National Guard and Reserves step up and sacrifice for our country,” said Mary Kaszynski, Director of Government Relations at VoteVets. “We’re grateful for their service, especially as our nation recovers from the pandemic, and owe it to them to ensure that each Reserve and Guard component member receives the benefits they have earned following their retirement or completion of service. Senator Peters' bill ensures that we keep faith with our National Guard and Reserves, and treat them with the respect they deserve. VoteVets is proud to support this important effort.”
Nationally, there are approximately 800,000 Guardsmen and Reservists and 6,000 Guardsmen in Kansas.
In addition to directing all branches of the military to provide Reserve Component servicemembers with a DD-214 form upon their retirement or separation from the service, the Record of Military Service for Members of the Armed Forces Act of 2021 updates the form to show all periods of service to include annual training and inactive training periods and total inactive service time for a member’s current service period. Additionally, the bill will bring commonality to discharge forms for all components of the military regardless if they are active or reserve, streamlines the administrative requirements on the National Guard by reducing the number of separation documents administrative support specialists must be trained and proficient completing. It provides all service members with proof of service that will consolidate all service periods allowing them to apply for all entitled benefits while reducing confusion at federal, state and local agencies.
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