05.08.19

Peters, Lankford Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Address Issue Impacting Military Reservists & National Guard Members Seeking to Access Benefits After Their Service

Bill Would Allow Reservists & National Guardsmen to Receive DD-214 Form that Active Duty Servicemembers Get Following Completion of Service or Retirement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and James Lankford (R-OK) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help reserve component members of the United States Armed Forces – including members of the Reserves and National Guard – receive the benefits they have earned following their retirement or completion of service. Currently, Reservists do not receive a separation document detailing their service and Guardsmen do not receive the same forms as Active Duty servicemembers after completion of service. The DD-214 form is often required by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other private sector institutions to certify qualification for benefits. The Reserve Component DD-214 Act of 2019 would help ensure that each Reserve and Guard component member receives the same DD-214 form as other members of the military following the end of their career in the Armed Services.

“The men and women of our Reserve and Guard components should not have to wade through bureaucratic red tape to receive the benefits they earned through their service,” said Senator Peters, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation that will help streamline the process and better ensure our veterans of the Guard and Reserves have access to the care and support they deserve.”

“This bill will ensure that members of the National Guard and Reserve receive the complete record of their federal and state service currently provided to our active duty service members,” said Senator Lankford. “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.”

“The Reserve Component DD-214 Act is long overdue legislation to recognize with parity National Guard and Reservists alongside our Active counterpart's service to our nation,” said Scott L. Meyers, President, National Guard Association of Michigan. “We appreciate Senator Peters for introducing this legislation and leading this bipartisan effort. Having all servicemembers using the same, recognizable document will save time and resources while ensuring all servicemembers can access the care and benefits they’ve earned.”  

“The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) gives its enthusiastic support to the Reserve Component DD-214 Act of 2019 and congratulates and appreciates Senators Gary Peters and James Lankford for their leadership on this issue,” said Frank Yoakum, Executive Director, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. “Proper official documentation of all periods of active service regardless of their length are a necessity for each serving member of America’s military, active and reserve, and this legislation will ensure that our National Guard members will receive that proper recognition for performing their duty.”

“The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) would like to thank Sen. Peters and Sen. Lankford for introducing the Reserve Component DD-214 Act to make it easier for National Guard and Reserve servicemembers to receive their active status benefits,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, President, National Guard Association of the United States. “The DD-214 is the standard which the VA and other agencies use to certify a servicemember’s time spent performing active service and these changes will alleviate instances where it takes longer than it should for Guardsmen and Reservists to receive their entitled benefits. This is another important step towards ensuring equity across the Total Force and we strongly support it.”

“Senator Peters’ Reserve Component DD-214 Act of 2019  helps eliminate longstanding inequities between the active and reserve components of the military that complicate transition among members of the Reserve and National Guard and can prevent receipt of service-related benefits,” said retired Major General Jeffrey Phillips, Executive Director, Reserve Officers Association. “The reserve components do not have a single document that provides essential service information required by VA pamphlet 26-7; the Reserve Component DD-214 Act of 2019 would correct that flaw and help ensure our citizen-warriors get their earned benefits.”

Nationally, there are approximately 840,000 Guardsmen and Reservists, including about 15,000 which reside in Michigan.

In addition to directing all branches of the military to provide Reserve Component servicemembers with a DD-214 Form upon their retirement or separation from the service, the Reserve Component DD-214 Act of 2019 updates the form to show all periods of service to include annual training and inactive training periods and total inactive service time for a member’s current service period. Additionally, the bill will bring commonality to discharge forms for all components of the military regardless if they are active or reserve, streamlines the administrative requirements on the National Guard by reducing the number of separation documents administrative support specialists must be trained and proficient completing. It provides all service members with proof of service that will consolidate all service periods allowing them to apply for all entitled benefits while reducing confusion at federal, state and local agencies. 

Peters has long been an advocate in Congress for Michigan’s servicemembers and veterans. In February, Peters helped reintroduce bipartisan legislation to improve burial services for our nation’s veterans by increasing funeral benefits offered through the VA. Peters also coauthored bipartisan legislation earlier this year to protect veterans exposed to toxic chemicals from open burn pits during their service.

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