A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators including Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and John Kerry (D-MA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Pat Roberts (R-KS), today introduced legislation to benefit members of the National Guard and Reserve by amending current law to include any duty performed after September 11, 2001 as service qualifying for reducing the age at which retired pay can be received. Currently, National Guard and Reserve members are the only federal retirees who must wait until age 60 to collect retirement pay.
The bill, the "National Guard and Reserve Retired Pay Equity Act of 2008," builds upon legislation authored by Senate Armed Services Committee members Chambliss and Pryor, which was accepted as part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. Specifically, that legislation, which was signed into law in January 2008, reduced the age for receipt of retirement pay by three months (counting down from age 60) for every 90 days a Guard or Reserve member spends on active duty in support of a contingency operation, or on active service for purposes of responding to a national emergency declared by the president or supported by federal funds. However, the provision in that Act only counted service performed after the date the bill was enacted and was not retroactive to September 11, 2001.
"The way we rely on our National Guard and Reserve has fundamentally changed since September 11, 2001," said Senator Chambliss. "The bill we are introducing today enhances what we did in last year's defense bill and rewards our men and women who have deployed since our nation was attacked. Their service was critical as well as sacrificial, and they should be rewarded for it. We need our military personnel and their families to know that we stand behind them and honor the great sacrifices they make on behalf of our nation."
"Our National Guard and Reserves have sacrificed over and over, again and again, since September 11th. America's heroes have helped put the pieces back together in the aftermath of the worst attack on our homeland and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, while fighting courageously overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Providing our Guard and Reserve retroactive credit for retirement benefits they've earned is one small way Washington can honor their tremendous sacrifices," said Senator Kerry.
"This bill is a much-needed step toward giving our guardsmen and reservists the retirements they deserve," said Senator Alexander. "Nearly 14,000 from the Tennessee National Guard have served their country heroically since September 11, 2001. Many have served two or three tours. We not only owe these men and women of the National Guard and Reserve our thanks, but we also should recognize the families and communities supporting their sacrifice. Tennesseans know these men and women need our full support in order to carry out their missions, and I will continue to make sure meeting their needs is a top priority of Congress."
"Since 9/11, the National Guard and Reserves have played critical roles in both homeland security and overseas deployments, and they have performed with skill and courage in response to these increased demands. These men and women face the same risks and make the same sacrifices that all of our brave servicemembers do, and they deserve the same respect and gratitude from this country. We must ensure that these troops receive the benefits to which they're entitled after their service is concluded," said Senator Clinton.
"Bottom line, this legislation is about fairness among all of our nation's brave servicemen and women," said Senator Coleman. "Whether they fought overseas in the immediate aftermath of September 11th or are deployed right now, our troops and their families have all made an enormous sacrifice on behalf of our nation. It is my hope the Senate will act quickly on this common-sense bill, as making this important change is the least we can do to reward the commitment of our brave fighting men and women."
"The recurring mobilizations of National Guard and Reserve units has put too much stress and strain on members and their families," said Senator Collins. "We owe all our nation's veterans a great debt and this legislation will help afford them with benefits that they have earned."
"Since the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our nation has depended on our Reserves and National Guard like never before in waging the war on terror," said Senator Isakson. "This will help see to it that the treatment and services we give these individuals are equal to the sacrifice they have made for our country."
"In this time of increased dependence upon members of our Guard and Reserve, I believe it is imperative that we provide for their needs and recognize their sacrifice," said Senator Lincoln. "That is why I have worked hard to provide them and their families with the benefits they rightfully deserve and why I have consistently supported legislation to lower the retirement age for members of the Guard and Reserve."
"Our National Guard and Reserve serve our country with great distinction and sacrifice," said Senator Pryor. "Every day of their service should count, and this legislation helps honor our commitment to make sure it does."
"This bill ensures our citizen soldiers, a very important part of our military, receive retention and recruitment benefits closer to those provided to our active duty forces. We should take this opportunity to honor them for their sacrifice on behalf of our freedom," said Senator Roberts.