It’s no secret: Today’s Reserve force is ever transforming from a strategic force to an operational force. In meeting the challenges of the 21st century (cybersecurity, counterintelligence, terrorism, etc.) today’s smaller, all volunteer force is called to duty more frequently. For Reservists this means pausing their civilian lives, as best as they can. With the uncertainty and need to balance both lives, many Reservists face uphill battles both home and abroad. They are battle hardened, yet there is still a personal toll on the individual service member. Seeing the hardships these men and women face, one must wonder how does the force even recruit and retain Reservists?
Having been there, the members of the Reserve Officers Association recognize the necessary role the Reserve force plays in providing strong national security. ROA believes that more efficient policies need to be established for Reservists in order to create an enduring Reserve force. In amplifying the voice of Reservists in the halls of Congress and the Pentagon, ROA members determine the issues that most affect the Reserve Component today and develop an annual legislative agenda. The annual legislative agenda reflects the current environment of today and sets forth the policies that need to be established for today’s Reservists.
Working throughout the year to implement and achieve goals set forth by the legislative agenda, ROA members always have the Reservist’s concerns in mind. One goal set forth by the 2012 agenda is for Title 14 Reservists to be eligible for the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Now, half way through the year, this policy may come to fruition. Last month the House of Representatives passed their version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013. Included in the bill is language that would give Coast Guard Reservists credit for active duty performed under USC Title 14 that would be applied towards early retirement or post-9/11 G.I. bill. Under this amendment, orders for Title 14 Coast Guard Reservists would have to be in 90 day increments within a fiscal year for early retirement credit. However, orders could be accumulated for post 9/11 GI bill eligibility, allowing for these Reservists to be able to seek higher education at a college or university.
This amendment would provide for better Reserve Strength, and a better Reserve Life. Retention and recruiting numbers would rise, allowing for a stronger force and military life for Reservists. At the same time, Reservists would be provided a better civilian life as they could seek higher education, which could further aid them in their civilian careers.
However, this is not a victory until it becomes a law. The NDAA FY 2013 is now being reviewed and debated by the Senate. ROA will continue to follow and push for the amendment until it becomes a victory for Reservists.