Senate Passes Kerry-Chambliss Legislation Honoring Post-9/11 National Guard and Reserve Members
An amendment authored by Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Saxby Chambliss (D-GA), and co-sponsored by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), to expand National Guard and Reserves' retirement benefits to include duty performed after September 11, 2001 was included in legislation recently passed by the Senate.
The Kerry-Chambliss amendment makes a change to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 to allow the combat service of members of the National Guard and Reserve who worked in support of a contingency operation after September 11, 2001 until January 28, 2008, to be recognized to reduce the age for eligibility of Reserve retirement pay.
Prior to January 28, 2008, Reserve retirement pay could not be drawn until age 60. A new law that became effective on January 28, 2008 allows the 60 year Reserve retirement pay eligibility age to be reduced three months for each aggregate of 90 days of deployed service of a member of the National Guard or Reserve in support of a contingency operation, but only counts service after January 28, 2008. The Kerry-Chambliss amendment would backdate the new law to service performed after September 11, 2001.
The amendment, based on legislation entitled "The National Guard and Reserve Retired Pay Equity Act," was adopted as an amendment as part of the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act.
"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," said Sen. Kerry. "Providing our Guard and Reserve retroactive credit for retirement benefits they've rightfully earned is one small way we can honor their tremendous sacrifices."
"The way we rely on our National Guard and Reserve has fundamentally changed since September 11, 2001," said Sen. Chambliss, a member of the Armed Services Committee. "I'm pleased that my colleagues understood the need to give the men and women who have deployed their due - their service has been critical. 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."
"I have heard firsthand from our National Guard members and Reservists and their families about the challenges they have faced and the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our country since 9/11," said Sen. Whitehouse. "Their enormous contributions deserve proper recognition and this amendment is a good way to show our appreciation for all they have done for us."
"This amendment rightfully respects and honors the service of our brave men and women prior to January 28, 2008 and the sacrifices made by their families," said Colonel Peter J Duffy, Deputy Director of Legislation for the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). "NGAUS thanks Senator Kerry and his colleagues for their proactive leadership on this most important issue for our members and their families."
"The Reserve Officers Association is pleased with the Senate's inclusion of Senator Kerry's amendment to correct the early retirement statute in its version of the National Defense Authorization Bill," said Rear Admiral Paul Kayye, President of the Reserve Officers Association. "It is only fair to move back the eligibility date to include all who have served since September 11, 2001 in support of overseas contingency operations."