04.22.21

Peters Leads Bipartisan Legislation to Help Ensure Military Reservists & National Guard Members Can Access Benefits After Completion of Service

Bill Would Create Single-Tier System to Ensure Reservists & National Guardsmen to Receive the Same DD-214 Form that Active Duty Servicemembers Get Following Completion of Service or Retirement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) led a bipartisan group of his colleagues in introducing 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 by ensuring they receive the same DD-214 form as other members of the military. U.S. Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) joined Peters in introducing the legislation.

The DD-214 form is often required by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and other private sector institutions to certify qualification for benefits after completion of service. Last year, Peters secured a provision that was signed into law through the annual defense bill to ensure members of the reserve components receive separation documents when their service is completed. The Record of Military Service for Members of the Armed Forces Act of 2021 would establish a single-tier document system so that all servicemembers receive the same all-purpose document and that there’s no difference between the active and reserve components. Peters and Lankford introduced similar legislation last Congress.

“Particularly throughout the past year, National Guardsmen in Michigan and across the country have stepped up to respond to unprecedented crises. Reservists and National Guardsmen should be able to access the benefits that are owed to them after they complete their service without having to jump through hoops,” said Senator Peters, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This legislation will ensure that all members of the United States military receive full and proper recognition for their service and can receive the benefits that they have earned.”

“I’m glad to join Senator Peters to reintroduce legislation that will help make sure all service members receive an accurate and complete record of their service,” said Senator Lankford. “National Guardswomen and men and Reservists should have the same form recognizing their service at home and abroad as their active duty counterparts in order for them to seamlessly receive the full benefits promised to them. I am honored to continue to support the women and men who have dedicated their lives to protecting our nation.”

“Far too often, members of our Armed Forces face the unnecessary hassle of having to track down their military service records themselves, creating delays in obtaining their earned benefits and care,” said Senator Tester. “Our commonsense bill will streamline military records for Guardsmen and Reservists from the Defense Department, ensuring they have the resources to lead full lives without the added stress of having to navigate bureaucratic red tape.”

“Over the past year, the men and women of our National Guard have been called to action numerous times and are still working to keep our country safe,” said Senator Moran. “Unlike active duty members of the military, these guardsmen are not provided the same comprehensive report documenting their service when they leave the military. This legislative change would provide members of the National Guard and Reserve components a comprehensive service document that they can utilize to more accurately reflect their entire service. This will help them receive the benefits and health care they are entitled to from the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.”

"The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States would like to express our gratitude to Sen. Peters, Sen. Lankford, Sen. Tester & Sen. Moran for their hard work and dedication to the National Guard and their efforts to ensure our service is properly documented," said Command Sergeant Major (Retired) Karen Craig, President of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States. "Ensuring that servicemembers' military careers' are appropriately documented is fundamental when seeking benefits through federal and state levels. It will also serve to highlight their military career when seeking employment."

“The DD214 is the document the VA, state agencies and private businesses almost always request to confirm military service,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Robinson, the president of the National Guard Association of the United States. “Active-component service members get DD214s when they leave military service, but Guardsmen and Reservists do not. They receive other documents that are not well known. This legislation will provide all service members, regardless of component, with the same proof of military service. It should also align cross-component personnel management. It’s long overdue. We applaud Senator Peters, Senator Lankford, Senator Tester, and Senator Moran for their initiative on this.”

“Time and again, the members of our National Guard and Reserves step up and sacrifice for our country,” said Mary Kaszynski, Director of Government Relations at VoteVets. “We’re grateful for their service, especially as our nation recovers from the pandemic, and owe it to them to ensure that each Reserve and Guard component member receives the benefits they have earned following their retirement or completion of service. Senator Peters' bill ensures that we keep faith with our National Guard and Reserves, and treat them with the respect they deserve. VoteVets is proud to support this important effort.”

Nationally, there are approximately 800,000 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 Record of Military Service for Members of the Armed Forces Act of 2021 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. Last month, legislation he cosponsored to ensure servicemembers and their families can get free COVID-19 vaccines through the VA was enacted into law. In January, Peters’ bipartisan bill to strengthen transparency and communication for veterans and caregivers participating in the VA’s caregiver program was also enacted into law. Additionally, Peters’ bipartisan provision was signed into law to help veterans who may have erroneously given a less than honorable discharge from the military due to negative behavior resulting from mental traumas such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Also, Peters’ bipartisan legislation to expand apprenticeship opportunities for veterans and allow them to use their GI bill benefits toward securing a registered apprenticeship was signed into law last year. Furthermore, Peters fought for and helped secure in the national defense bill that was enacted in January a measure to expand the Department of Veterans’ Affairs list of medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure to include Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism.

###