Reps. Peters, Bergman Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Extend Education and Career Counseling to All Deployed Troops
Yesterday, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) introduced the Reserve Component Vocational Rehabilitation Parity Act to extend Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reservists and guardsmen who are called to serve during times of war or national emergency.
Under current law, the Department of Defense can authorize the involuntary activation of up to 60,000 troops for up to a year to support preplanned operations of a combatant commander per 12304b authority. However, reservists involuntarily mobilized under this law do not accrue service time to become eligible for all benefits. The bill would correct this inconsistency by extending vocational rehabilitation services, including career and academic guidance on using VA benefits to achieve career goals, to all servicemembers who deploy for preplanned missions.
“Our veterans bravely answered the call to serve our nation and they have earned their full benefits,” said Rep. Peters. “These men and women all deserve our support as they begin their careers or go back to school, regardless of how and when they serve. We need to ensure guardsmen and reservists have the same opportunities as the rest of our veterans.”
The Reserve Component Vocational Rehabilitation Parity Act is cosponsored by fellow House Veterans Affairs Committee members Ranking Member Rep. Tim Walz (MN-01), O&I Subcommittee Chairman Jack Bergman (MI-01), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Steven Palazzo (MS-04), Bruce Poliquin (ME-02), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), and Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02). The bill is supported by the National Guard Association of the United States and the Reserve Officers Association.
“Having served in and commanded the United States Marine Corps Reserves, I know first-hand the unique and vital role that our nation’s guardsmen and reservists hold in our military,” said Rep. Bergman. “This bill will provide parity to those who have served our country as a reservist or guardsman by offering the same vocational rehab benefits as active duty personnel, allowing them to prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment after their military service.”
“Service members who wear the same uniform and do the same job should get the same pay and the same benefits,” said Rep. Walz. “The Reserve Component Vocational Rehabilitation Parity Act is an important step in our work to ensure fairness for our Guard members and Reservists mobilized under 12304b authority.”
“We need to ensure that our veterans have access to the benefits they have earned, as well as the resources to succeed after their service – including all National Guard Members and Reservists who bravely serve our country,” said Rep. Brownley. “The Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program provides critical job training, and there is no reason all veterans with service-connected disabilities shouldn’t be able to benefit from it. I thank Congressman Peters for introducing this bill, which is an important step forward to support our Guard and Reserve members, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to lift the time limit altogether to benefit veterans of all ages.”