Bill hopes to include Guardsmen who were left out of new GI Bill

The landmark Post-9/11 GI Bill sent an unprecedented number of veterans to college this fall. But a large chunk of personnel from one service branch missed out.

National Guard members activated only under Title 32 status were not included in the new GI Bill. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) hopes to change that with the passage of the National Guard Education Equality Act, a measure that will include Title 32 service in the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The bill will grant full benefits to an estimated 30,000 Guardsmen who served entirely or in part on our country’s home soil, as airport security directly after the 9/11 attacks, as protectorates of U.S. airspace, as Hurricane Katrina responders, as border security with Operation Jumpstart, or on full-time active duty as part of the Active Guard Reserve. Currently, only Title 10 service and missions count toward GI Bill benefits.

Loebsack’s measure will also correct a discrepancy that kept Guardsmen with service-connected disabilities from receiving a four-year college education. Under current law, National Guardsmen who served under Title 32 status and received a disability-related discharge aren’t eligible for the college aid they’d receive if they were serving under Title 10 status or with a different military branch. If passed, the National Guard Education Equality Act will change that.

“Our National Guard members who participate in disaster response, protection of U.S. airspace, border security and many other critical missions deserve the Post-9/11 GI benefits and the opportunities that come with those benefits,” said Loebsack, a former political science professor at Cornell College. “I have had the privilege and honor to meet with many Iowa National Guardsmen, and they deserve the education benefits that will enable them to be part of the American dream. As a former college professor, I know and understand the many doors an education can open.”

Loebsack’s bill, introduced Sept. 10, has the full backing of The American Legion.