News Releases

Murray Introduces Bill to Ease Burden on Guard/Reserve and Families

Feb 12 2004

Senator's legislation would expand health care, child care, education, financial benefits to soldiers and their families

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today introduced legislation that would increase services and benefits to members of the National Guard and Reserves when they are called to service. Murray's bill, the Guard and Reserve Enhanced Benefits Act of 2004 (S. 2068), would provide expanded health care, family assistance, education, and financial benefits to help ease the burden on these soldiers and their families.

"Our Guard and Reservists deserve the same support that other military services can expect when they are called on to serve our country," Senator Murray said. "My bill tells these brave men and women that we will make sure their families have the benefits and services they need to get through this difficult time."

According to the Pentagon, there are currently more than 194,000 Guard and Reservists serving on active-duty. Guard and Reservists make up almost 40 percent of the total U.S. force in Iraq. In Washington state, the Guard's 81st Armor Brigade is sending 3,600 Washington state residents to Iraq within the month -- this is the largest activation since World War II.

On January 9, Senator Murray visited Camp Murray and Fort Lewis and met with members of the 81st Brigade and their families. She listened to concerns ranging from the need for accessible child care, loss of income and difficulty in repaying student loans. Murray took these concerns back with her to Washington, D.C. where she wrote the Guard and Reserve Benefits Act.

"We are asking so much of our Guard and Reserve members and their families and we have an obligation to make it easier for their spouses and children during these long deployments," Murray said. "I urge my colleagues to join me to do everything we can to lessen the burden on Americans who are already sacrificing so much for our country."

Senator Murray's legislation would:

  • Extend the current Family and Medical Leave Act protections to the spouses of Guard and Reservists called to extended active duty.

  • Provide child care assistance grants to parents or guardians of dependents of Guard and Reservists called to active duty.

  • Expand the GI bill for Guard and Reservists who are called to active duty for 12 consecutive months or 24 months out of a 60 month period.

  • Provide relief from interest and defer payments of unsubsidized student loans.

  • Require any college receiving federal funds to offer students returning from active-duty service readmission without penalty or additional fees.

  • Reduce the age for Guard and reservists to receive retirement pay.

  • Require that the federal government cover the pay differential for federal employees called to active duties.

  • Allow employers to claim up to $12,000 in tax credits for the pay differential of Guard and reserve employees.

  • Make access to TRICARE permanent for all members of the Guard and Reserves and their families regardless of employment or insurance status.