Congressmen Tom Latham (R-IA) and Tim Walz (D-MN) are continuing a bipartisan push from previous Congresses to close a loophole that makes it more difficult for National Guard members who served on active duty deployments to collect the additional retirement pay they have earned.
The legislation, the Reserve Retirement Deployment Credit Correction Act (H.R. 690), would eliminate a glitch in current law that has caused the Department of Defense to discount periods of service in awarding previously deployed Guard members retirement benefits based on a technical error in considering time served on active duty.
Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) introduced the Senate companion of the bill last week.
"The men and women of the National Guard and Reserve have served an expanded, integral purpose in America's recent 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."
"This is about righting a wrong. Our Guard and Reserve forces are composed of strong citizen warriors who work to enhance the security of our nation," Walz said. "Those willing to serve us shouldn't get caught in a bureaucratic loophole. This bill pays tribute to the men and women who have served and compensates them fairly for their service."
In 2008, legislation authored by Latham was approved to make retirement benefits for Guard members more equitable with that of their active duty counterparts, by crediting them for time spent on deployments with earlier receipt of retirement pay. However, an unintended technicality in its implementation allowed the Department of Defense to exclude some periods of service that overlap two fiscal years from counting toward retirement benefits.
The Reserve Retirement Deployment Credit Correction Act would clarify the law to ensure that Guard members receive the retirement credit for all time spent on active duty over the course of their career. This legislation will ensure that Guard members whose deployments span two fiscal years or occur within a fiscal year but don't total 90 days still receive the retirement credit to which they're entitled.
Latham and former Congressman Dan Boren (D-OK) introduced similar legislation in 2010 and 2011, and also authored an amendment that was passed and incorporated into the Fiscal Year 2011 Defense Authorization bill (Public Law 111-383) directing the Pentagon to align its legal interpretation with the original intent of Congress. However, this directive has yet to be followed. Additionally, last fall, the Credit Correction Act provision was passed by the full U.S. Senate as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for FY13. It was not, however, included in the final version of that bill.
For these reasons, Latham, Walz, Tester and Chambliss have reintroduced the Credit Correction legislation.