Fair Retirement Credit for 9/11 National Guard Included in House Passed Defense Authorization Bill
WASHINGTON, DC - Late last night, legislation advanced to provide military retirement credit to National Guard soldiers for their service in disaster zones after 9/11. The provision was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (H.R. 1815), which passed the House of Representatives late last night.
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY), with other members of the New York delegation, had introduced legislation (H.R. 2499) on May 19, 2005, to award retirement credits for National Guard service in response to 9/11. Maloney and King expressed appreciation to Members of Congress Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Ike Skelton (D-MO), the Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the House Armed Services Committee, as well as John McHugh (R-NY) and Vic Snyder (D-AR), the Chairman and Ranking Member respectively of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, for their efforts to ensure that this provision was included in the Defense Authorization legislation.
Congresswoman Maloney said, “National Guard soldiers responded immediately to the most dangerous sites in the country after 9/11, facing unknown threats to protect New York and the nation. They secured lower-Manhattan and streamlined the rescue effort in the critical hours after the attacks. They also served for months on end to ensure a successful recovery effort at Ground Zero. For their service to the country after 9/11, National Guard soldiers deserve nothing less than the military retirement credit being advanced in Congress today.”
Congressman King, who served in the 69th Infantry of the New York National Guard, said, “this vote is a tribute to the brave men and women of the National Guard. It is also a tribute to the dedicated effort of Congresswoman Maloney.”
BACKGROUND: Several hundred soldiers from the National Guard who responded to the World Trade Center site after the September 11th terrorist attacks are not receiving the military retirement benefits they deserve. Many of the soldiers who guarded Ground Zero after the attacks were not officially put on federal active duty; as a result, they did not receive federal military retirement credit for their more than 300 days of service. Other soldiers from the same unit were activated under federal duty to help secure the U.S. Military Academy, and have received the appropriate retirement credit. Clearly, all National Guard troops who served during this unprecedented national emergency deserve equal status.
Many of the same soldiers who protected New York after 9/11 are now serving courageously in Iraq. Sixteen members of the Manhattan-based 69th National Guard Regiment have died in the Iraq war - eight in the past year. In April, six members of the 69th were awarded Purple Hearts after being wounded in Iraq from roadside bombs.
Last night’s legislation provides all National Guard soldiers who performed full-time State active duty service on or after September 11, 2001 and before October 1, 2002, in support of a Federal declaration of emergency following the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, with federal military retirement credit for that time served, when they were serving in the following covered disaster counties: (1) In the State of New York: Bronx, Kings, New York (boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan), Queens, Richmond, Delaware, Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester; (2) In the State of Virginia: Arlington.
The legislation awaits consideration by the Senate on Defense Authorization legislation, before any differences can be reconciled in a Conference Committee and a final bill can be sent to the President to sign into law. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate to H.R. 2499.
Joining Representatives Maloney and King in the original legislation to provide the National Guard with federal retirement credit for 9/11 service (H.R. 2499) were New York Members of Congress Gary Ackerman (D), Vito Fossella (R), Maurice Hinchey (D), Steve Israel (D), Nita Lowey (D), Carolyn McCarthy (D), Major Owens (D), José Serrano (D), and Edolphus Towns (D).