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Crapo Seeks Increases For Guard Members

Health benefits increased, educational help is next

Washington, DC - Following a voice vote by the United States Senate seeking to increase health care benefits for members of the Guard and Reserve, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is supporting an additional legislative package of bills that would increase other benefits, including those in educational programs available to the Guard and Reserve. Crapo joined with a bipartisan group of senators this week to push for increases in educational benefits offered under the G.I. Bill. He is also supporting a bill allowing taxpayers to designate their returns to Guardsmen and women and their families.The new bills face Senate debate as some 18,000 members of the Guard and Reserve, including 2,600 in Idaho, are on alert status for possible call-up for service in Iraq. The Department of Defense has estimated some guard and reserve members could see up to one year of service in the Middle East.â??This package of legislation seeks to offer double-digit increases to members of the Guard and Reserve for educational programs. It comes at a time when very few discretionary spending programs are seeing that kind of increase,â?? Crapo noted. â??We must support members of the Guard and Reserve across the board-with assistance from the federal government, support from the private sector to keep their employment opportunities intact during service, and by offering taxpayers an ability to donate part of their tax return back to those who are bravely defending our nation in these unique times of service in the fight against terrorism.â??S. 2100 offers double-digit increases in educational benefits under the G.I. Bill to Guard members and reservists as a way of closing the gap in benefits that now exist between Guard and reserve members and those involved in active duty. S. 2099 would benefit reservists who accrue more than two years of active duty in any five-year period. S. 1898 would allow taxpayers to designate any or all of any income tax refund to support reservists and National Guard members. All three bills are awaiting committee approval before floor votes are taken.Crapo supported the earlier effort to provide a reserve fund for TRICARE benefits for members of the Guard and Reserve. Unobligated balances from reconstruction projects in Iraq would offset the increases set forth in the amendment adopted by the full Senate. # # #