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House Committee on Veterans Affairs Republicans

Today, Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.), the Ranking Member of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, issued the following statements after the Department of Defense announced that members of the National Guard deployed to the southern border will be eligible to accrue credits toward Post-9/11 GI bill benefits following a letter sent by both members to the Secretary of Defense, Mark T. Esper:

“Whether it’s to South Korea, Afghanistan, or right here at home, all those that deploy in defense of our nation have earned the right to use the GI bill to pursue their educational goals after they separate from military service. I applaud the Secretary of Defense for doing the right thing and reversing this ill-advised policy that prohibited certain members of the National Guard deployed to the southern border in service of a national emergency from receiving active duty service credit toward the Post-9/11 GI Bill. This decision ensures that our men and women standing post and protecting our southern border will be eligible to receive GI bill benefits without further delay. I am grateful that a member of the Texas National Guard brought this issue to my attention and that Congressman Bilirakis and I were able to work together with the National Guard Bureau and the Department of Defense to resolve this in a swift manner,” said Ranking Member Roe.

“I’m glad to see the Department of Defense acknowledge the inconsistency of its prior policy and Congressional intent on this important matter, and that these brave young men and women will receive the benefits they deserve,” said Congressman Bilirakis.

Read Ranking Member Roe and Rep. Bilirakis’ letter to Secretary Esper here.

Read the signed policy memorandum from Secretary Esper here.

Background:

Until now, members of the National Guard who have deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border for OPERATION GUARDIAN SUPPORT were prohibited by DOD policy from accruing Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits for that service, despite an emergency declaration signed by President Trump that should have made them eligible for these benefits. After being contacted by a member of the Texas National Guard about this inequity Ranking Member Roe and Rep. Bilirakis sent a letter to Secretary Esper to express their concern that this policy was improperly denying National Guard soldiers Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits and to request that the policy be reviewed. Following the letter, DOD announced that members of the National Guard deployed to the southern border would receive active duty service credit towards Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility.

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