STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS
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By Mr. KERRY (for himself, Mr. DAYTON, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. JOHNSON, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. MENENDEZ, and Mr. REID):
S. 2449. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to reduce the age for receipt of military retired pay for nonregular service from 60 years of age to 55 years of age; to the Committee on Armed Services.
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, for several years members of this Chamber have worked to reduce the age that retired members of the National Guard and Reserve can receive their retirement pay from 60 to 55. Senator Corzine offered such legislation in the first session of this Congress, and I was delighted to co-sponsor it. With Senator Corzine's departure from the Senate for the New Jersey State House, we have reassembled the body of co-sponsors and are introducing this legislation again to signal our continued commitment to addressing this issue.
The issue is simple. If you join the active duty Army at age 18 and serve 20 years on active duty, retiring at age 38, you are immediately eligible to receive retirement pay. If you join the National Guard or Reserves, you may retire after 20 years, but you must wait until age 60 to begin collecting retirement pay. A 38-year-old veteran of the Guard and Reserves must wait 22 years to see any of their retirement pay.
To be sure, everyone recognizes the difference between service in the active component and the reserve component in peace time. But since September 11, 2001, as we are reminded almost daily, we have been a Nation at war. Our National Guard and Reserves have been fully engaged in the War against al Qaeda and the War in Iraq. As of last week, nearly 120,000 reservists were mobilized, including 1,230 troops from my home state of Massachusetts. And sadly, almost 600 members of the Guard and Reserves have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.
We can never fully express our Nation's gratitude for their service and sacrifice, but we can try to make benefits and compensation more worthy of the commitment and service shown by America's citizen soldiers. That's exactly what the legislation I introduce today seeks to accomplish. I'm delighted to be joined in this effort by Senators DAYTON, DURBIN, JOHNSON, LAUTENBERG, MIKULSKI, MENENDEZ, and REID.
It is no secret that our all volunteer force is stretched. Recruiting numbers have sagged under the anxieties and concerns of a nation at war. Retention has remained healthy to date, but as the nation approaches its 5th year of war, we must be proactive in seeking to support those who have already done so much for us. Reducing the age at which members of the Guard and Reserves can receive their retirement pay can help make continued service more attractive, retaining those in whom America has already invested so much.
We are asking for more from our National Guard and Reserve members than ever before. In turn we should be providing them with what they deserve and have certainly earned. This legislation would be a small step in the right direction to honor the service of these Americans and to ensure their continued strength.
I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
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