In 2020, the Reserve Components activated more troops than any time since World War II. From COVID-19 pandemic response, to fighting wildfires, to floods, to patrolling the Southern border, to unrest in the streets – they did it all and with pride and professionalism.

But sadly, Selected Reservists don’t always get appropriately compensated for their work performed. In response, there were two different Reserve Component pay parity acts introduced in 2021 that are now sitting in committee awaiting discussion that would make the pay more equitable:

  • National Guard and Reserve Incentive Pay Parity Act – H.R. 3626
  • Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021 – H.R. 1836

National Guard and Reserve Incentive Pay Parity Act – H.R. 3626

Under this act, members of the Selected Reserve (National Guard and Reserves of the different branches) would receive the same incentive or special bonuses as do their active-duty counterparts doing the same job. Right now, that is not the case.

The bill is short; the text below is what would be added to Subchapter II of Chapter 5 of Title 37 if passed:

Sec. 357 – Special bonus and incentive pay authorities for members of the reserve

components of the armed forces

The Secretary concerned shall pay a member of the reserve component of an armed force a special bonus or incentive pay in the same monthly amount as that paid to a member in the regular component of such armed for performing comparable work requiring comparable skills.”

The bill is sponsored by Rep Tim Ryan (D-OH) and cosponsored by Reps Kaiali Kahele (D-HI) and Marc Veasey (D-TX). Both cosponsors are on the Armed Services Committee.

There is an identical bill in the Senate S.1859 that is sponsored by Sen Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and was introduced on May 26, 2021. Senator Duckworth in also on the Armed Services Committee. No action has been taken on either bill as of this writing.

Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021

This bill, H.R. 1836 would help level the playing field as far as time that counts towards Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility. It was introduced in the House on March 11, 2021, by Rep Mike Levin (D-CA), approved by the House Veterans’ Affairs on January 6, 2022 and passed the House on January 12 by a margin of 152 yeas over nays. It was then referred to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on January 13, where it is currently sitting awaiting discussion.

Right now, much of the time Selected Reservists spend in uniform does not count toward their GI Bill eligibility, yet they are held to the same requirements – 36 months of qualifying service for the full 36 months of education entitlement at 100% coverage. Under this change, Reserve Component members would eventually receive credit for each day served in uniform – just like their active-duty counterparts.

However if approved, it will be phased in in two steps. In Step One, beginning on August 1, 2025, all “other qualifying duty” before, on and after that date, except Inactive Duty for Training (IDT), would count toward GI Bill eligibility. In Step Two, starting on August 1, 2032, IDT time would be added and also count.

The Selected Reserve has shifted from a Strategic Reserve force to an Operational Reserve in recent years and is performing missions in numbers previously unheard of. Now they are starting to see some possible recognition for their efforts in the way of increasing their GI Bill eligibility for service performed. As you can see, it will take a few years for these changes to take effect, but at least there is some movement in the parity direction…provided the bills pass. In many situations, Selected Reservists are performing side-by-side with their active-duty counterparts and should be compensated the same for equal work performed.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.