News Releases

Murray Reintroduces Bill to Expand Benefits for Guard/Reserve Members and their Families

Jan 24 2005

Bill will provide enhanced health care, child care, education and financial benefits

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray today reintroduced legislation to increase services and benefits to members of the National Guard and Reserves when they are called to active duty. Murray originally introduced the Guard and Reserve Enhanced Benefits Act (S.2068) last year to expand health care, education, financial benefits and family assistance to help ease the burden on Guard members and their families.

The reintroduction of Murray’s legislation coincides with her co-sponsorship of two new Democratic bills being introduced today. As a member of the Democratic leadership, Murray helped to develop both S.11 - to increase protections for our troops and Reserve members - and S. 13 to fulfill our health and benefits promises to America’s veterans.

“Thousands of citizen-soldiers from across Washington state have been called to active duty over the past two years. These brave men and women and their families deserve the same support that other military units receive when they sacrifice to serve our country,” Senator Murray said.

“My bill tells Guard and Reserve members across America that we are committed to providing them and their families with the health, financial and social support services necessary to get through this difficult time.”

According to the Pentagon, 239,000 National Guard members have been called to active-duty. Currently, 192,500 Guard and Reserve members are serving on active duty as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Thousands of Washington state Guard members have been activated over the past two years -- including over 3,200 members of the 81st Brigade now serving in Iraq – the largest activation since World War II.

Hundreds of Washington state Reservists have also been activated and one hundred and fifty local Marine Corps Reservists will soon be deployed to Iraq as part of the Yakima-based Bravo Company, 4th Tank Battalion.

“With tours of duty being expanded and new units being deployed, we have an obligation to ease some of the burden on Guard and Reserve families. I urge my colleagues to support our troops and their families by passing my bill,” Murray said.

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 $15,000 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.

While several pieces of Murray’s original legislation were passed as separate amendments by the full Senate last year, they were blocked by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and not signed into law.