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GI bill benefits | Lawmakers try to level playing field for National Guard, reservists

Bills would provide same education and health benefits as active duty members.

WASHINGTON — For the more than 811,000 members of the National Guard and the reserves, the danger they face is virtually the same as their active-duty peers.

But, the benefits they get are not. The "Guard and Reserve G.I. Bill Parity" Act would begin to change that.

It would expand GI Bill education benefits to members of the Guard and Reserve who are on Federal Active Duty orders

"It is time that the Guard and reservists' benefits reflect the key work that they're doing, and the need for equity across the total force," said Rep Mark Takano (D-California, Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. "It is time for every day in uniform to count."

House Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Rep. Mike Bost (R-Illinois) said he shares the goal of improving the delivery of benefits to all vets, but he is worried about the projected $1.9 billion cost over ten years.

"The Guard and Reserve GI Bill Equity Act will allow members of the National Guard and Reserve to accrue active duty service towards the G.I. Bill for every day they are in uniform on federal orders, including training," he said. "This bill will cost tens of billions of dollars over several decades."

Bost added: "This is yet another example of reckless spending. It is unacceptable to me.

The House Rules Committee on Monday also considered the “Ensuring Veterans’ Smooth Transition Act” or the “EVEST Act”.

It would automatically enroll National Guard members and reservists into the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system upon completion of their service.

"Right now, many, unfortunately, have to deal with bureaucratic red tape to get the care they will need," said Rep Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts). "The Invest Act will change that so that these heroes no longer have to jump through unnecessary hoops to access the health care services that they have earned."

These post-service benefits questions could obviously impact a lot of people.

According to testimony in Monday's hearing, it's estimated around 200,000 people leave military service every year.

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