WWMT CBS 3 West Michigan: Sen. Peters part of bipartisan push in D.C. to streamline veteran benefit documentation

Some military members get different proof of service depending on the branch and a new bipartisan proposal in Washington aims to streamline the process.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-MI, and Sen. James Lankford, R-OK, introduced a proposal to give military reserve and National Guard members the same proof of service form that active duty members receive. The form Peters wants to give the other military members is known as a DD-214, which is used to show the history of service for veteran benefits and other service perks.

“Most organizations that deal with prior military are used to having a DD-214, which really summarizes the service a member has had,” Peters said Wednesday. “Unfortunately, if you are leaving the reserves or the National Guard, there’s a completely different set of paperwork for folks in that area and often times it delays their ability sometimes to get benefits from the VA for example.”

The bill is silent on whether or the not the benefit would be retroactive. Peters said it would be up to the Department of Defense as how they want to move forward.

The proposal has the support of the National Guard Association of Michigan. Scott Meyers, president of the group, said the move is long overdue and having all service members use the same form will create efficiency.

“We appreciate Senator Peters for introducing this legislation and leading this bipartisan effort. Having all service members using the same, recognizable document will save time and resources while ensuring all service members can access the care and benefits they’ve earned,” Meyers said.

Peters echoed the streamline effect of his plan and said using one system will create cost saving measures for the country.

“Having one form for all of the folks who are serving in the military, whether they are in the reserves or active duty, will save taxpayers money and it will put everyone on equal footing, and it really eliminates the confusion that occurs right now with a lot of organizations that simply don’t understand the difference between what a reserve service member gets and what an active duty member gets,” he said.

Lankford, Peters’s Republican partner in the bill, said the universal form will ensure all members of the military fully utilize their benefits and have proof of their service.

“National Guard and Reserve personnel should be fully recognized for all of their service at home and abroad so that they receive the full benefits promised to them. I’m glad to join Senator Peters to introduce this legislation, and I encourage my colleagues to pass this bill in the days ahead. This change will help us to continue to support the women and men who have dedicated their lives to protecting our nation,” Lankford said.

Nationally, there are approximately 840,000 Guardsmen and Reservists, including about 15,000 who reside in Michigan, according to Peters’s office.

By:  Mikenzie Frost
Source: WWMT CBS 3 West Michigan