Representatives Panetta, Sherrill, King Introduce Bill to Ensure Benefits for National Guard Members Deployed During COVID-19
SALINAS, CA – Today, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Congressman Peter King (NY-02), and 36 of their colleagues introduced the bipartisan National Guard COVID-19 Earned Benefits Guarantee Act.
According to recent reporting, the Administration is considering cutting off most National Guard COVID-19 activations one day short of the threshold required for certain retirement and educational benefits. Congressman Panetta’s legislation will direct the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs to treat a full-time National Guard COVID-19 activation as not shorter than 90 days, thus qualifying these servicemembers for benefits.
"Since the early days of this pandemic, National Guard members have stepped up, stepped forward, and stepped into our communities to help serve us and fight this disease. Any purposeful plan to end their orders a day short so that they don’t receive their proper benefits undermines their service and our security," said Congressman Panetta. "My legislation will ensure that the men and women of the National Guard serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response are allowed to earn all of their deserved benefits as they continue to defend our communities."
"The National Guardsmen and women in New Jersey have been on the front lines of our fight against COVID-19," said Congresswoman Sherrill. "To consider ending their deployments a day early to deny them benefits is not only a disservice to the brave men and women serving during this crisis, it harms our ability to keep people in our community safe. Congressman Panetta and I want to ensure that these heroes have access to the benefits they’ve earned."
"The National Guard’s mission to combat COVID-19 is far from over. These citizen soldiers are taking time away from their families and primary jobs to be at the forefront of this fight. We need to ensure that we protect their benefits while they are protecting us," said Congressman King.
Additional original cosponsors of the legislation include Representatives Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Thomas Suozzi (NY-03), Dina Titus (NV-01), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), TJ Cox (CA-21), Bill Foster (IL-11), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Jim Costa (CA-16), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29), Anthony Brown (MD-04), Josh Gottheimer (NY-05), Scott Peters (CA-52), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Jason Crow (CO-06), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jose E. Serrano (NY-15), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39), Nydia M. Velazquez (NY-07), Angie Craig (MN-02), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), and Filemon Vela (TX-34).
The Reserve Officers Association and the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States have endorsed the legislation.
At the outset of the pandemic, Congressman Panetta successfully urged California’s Governor Gavin Newsom to activate National Guard members to help respond to and alleviate food insecurity across the state. They continue to do so.