Those in the National Guard and Reserve don't work for the military full-time, but can be deployed at any time. An U.S. senator from Minnesota is promoting legislation to give them the same benefits as those in active duty.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke in Winona Saturday morning about the legislation she has sponsored.
One bill would designate Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where the Minnesota-based 135th Infantry was recently deployed, as a combat zone, ensuring that troops serving there have their pay excluded from income tax like it is excluded for soldiers in combat zones.
Another bill Klobuchar is pushing would amend the Every Student Succeeds Act, which allows schools to identify students from military families, to include children of Guard and Reserve members as well.
"It can be really hard on a kid, and the school would have no idea what's going on in their life,” Klobuchar said. “Maybe they need some extra help, maybe they want to get them involved with other kids that have parents deployed so they can talk about it, but the Guard and Reserve are treated differently."
Col. Mike Funk, chief of staff for the Minnesota Army National Guard, was also at Saturday’s discussion, echoing the importance of treating the National Guard and Reserve the same as those in active duty.
"For example, we will have soldiers deploy overseas and serve our country for a year, just as the 400 did just coming back from Egypt, and they have a different set of benefits than the active component,” Funk said. “So they no longer have access to the GI bill. They don't have the same equal access to insurance when they get back, so what we would like to see really is an equal playing field."
Klobuchar's legislation has bipartisan support.