Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) are teaming up with Representative Tom Latham (R-Iowa) to ensure that National Guard and Reserve members get the early retirement credit they have earned through active duty service.
While qualified active duty troops can receive retirement benefits immediately upon completion of service, most reservists must currently wait until the age of 60 to begin receiving benefits.
A 2008 law allows the minimum retirement age for reservists to be moved up by three months for every 90 days of deployment overseas. However, under current law, those 90 days of deployment must occur within one fiscal year in order to be applied toward retirement--meaning reservists who deploy for more than 90 days spanning two fiscal years receive no retirement credit.
The lawmakers' measures would correct that technicality, authorizing early reserve retirement credit for every 90 days of active duty service over two years.
Tim Lincoln, Chairman of the Montana National Guard Association and Dennis Stoner, President of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard for the State of Montana, support the bill.
"Since September 11, 2001, the Montana National Guard has deployed over 4,000 soldiers and airmen all over the world, with many deploying into direct combat areas multiple times," Lincoln and Stoner said. "The era of the Guard as a strategic reserve is over and the benefits of fighting our nation's wars should reflect our contributions. We strongly support this correction so our members get the credit they have sacrificed so much to achieve."
"Today, as folks across the country honor our service members as the heroes they are, we've got to make sure their benefits reflect their increased service," said Tester, Montana's only member of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. "Members of our National Guard and Reserve forces have been called upon in historic ways over the past twelve years, and they have fulfilled their obligations with honor. This legislation helps make sure the service of these brave men and women is more properly recognized by granting them the early retirement benefits they've earned."
"Our guardsmen and reservists serve alongside all branches of the regular armed forces, and they should be recognized and compensated for the indispensable role they play in the defense of our nation," Chambliss said. "I will continue to fight for them to receive credit and recognition for their service when considering retirement benefits."
"The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve are serving an expanded, integral purpose in America's foreign engagements, and they deserve retirement benefits that reflect the commitment and sacrifice of their increased role," Congressman Latham said. "This legislation simply removes a technical glitch that is keeping some Guard members from receiving the retirement benefits that they've earned. We made significant progress last Congress in moving this measure closer to becoming law, and I intend to keep working until we can make it a reality by introducing the House version of this bill in the coming days."
Tester, Chambliss, and Latham's bill is endorsed by the Military Coalition--an organization of nationally prominent uniformed services and veterans associations representing more than 5.5 million members.