WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate early Saturday approved legislation to improve services for our nation’s veterans which included a Boozman-authored provision to honor as veterans, National Guard and Reserve retirees who served honorably for a minimum of 20 years but do not meet the active duty service requirement to qualify them as veterans under existing law.
Current law defines veterans as servicemen and women who have served on active duty, other than for training, for 180 consecutive days or more. Boozman’s language adds an honorary veteran status provision and allows these Guard and Reserve retirees to be recognized as veterans. Due to the fact that no additional benefits beyond the title of veteran are extended to these retirees, there is no cost associated with this legislation. Boozman worked with his colleagues on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to ensure bipartisan support for this legislation which has been stalled in the Senate for many years.
“Men and women who have honorably served in defense of our nation earned the recognition of veteran status. After 20 years of service in our nation’s uniform, they deserve this honor,” Boozman, a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs said.
“We would not be where we are today on veterans status for Guardsmen and Reservists without the tireless work of Senator Boozman,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the NGAUS president. “He was instrumental in getting the Senate to pass the legislation for the first time last year and has continued to carry the torch.”
“The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS) congratulates the 114thCongress for passing H.R. 6416, The Jeff Miller and Richard Blumenthal Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2016. We are particularly pleased that the bill included Sec. 305 which grants honorary veteran status to our Guardsmen who served twenty years, but who did not meet the requisite requirements of time in Title 10 status during their career to earn veteran status—one of our association’s decade-long legislative resolutions and a topic near and dear to our members. On behalf of our membership, we wish to thank the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committee Members and Professional Staff for their help in resolving this issue. Now our members with twenty years of service can truly be recognized for their service and sacrifice for serving their country,” said Sergeant Major Frank Yoakum, U.S. Army (Retired), Executive Director, EANGUS.
The House of Representatives passed this legislation. It is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.