Legislation puts citizen soldiers more on par with standard military benefits
Washington, DC - Members of America's Guard and Reserve are contributing to the nation's security more than ever in the war on terrorism, and their education benefits should reflect that, according to Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Crapo has joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) Enhancement Act of 2008.
The legislation introduced today would improve the REAP program for all citizen soldiers in three ways:
• Provide accruable benefits for those who have served multiple deployments.
• Replace the current structure of educational benefits to reflect length of service.
• Shift jurisdiction of benefit distribution from the Department of Defense to the Veterans Administration (VA).
Crapo worked with Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) last year to improve other inequities in education under the GI Bill. Those changes were reflected in the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization Act that passed the Congress.
"The scope of assignments given to National Guard and Reserve members has grown significantly since the terrorist attacks inside our country on September 11, 2001," Crapo noted. "We must better recognize the unique role these citizen soldiers hold in our national defense with the appropriate recognition and compensation. This legislation begins us on the path to express what these soldiers have become-patriots on the frontline of our national defense."
Senator Lincoln is the original sponsor of the Reserve Educational Assistance Program. Along with Crapo, the other co-sponsors are Senators Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania), John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) and Gordon Smith (R-Oregon).