National Guard troops may be activated on federal orders, commonly known as Title 32. Under 32 U.S.C., a state’s governor is authorized or directed by the President of the United States to mobilize or activate the National Guard. The duties are performed under state control, but with pay and benefits provided by the Federal Government. This means that National Guard troops may be entitled to federal benefits, such as financial aid, health care, retirement points, education benefits, and possibly death gratuity.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many States’ governors have activated the National Guard within their state to help with the response. However, until the President orders or authorizes the mobilization, the troops are considered state employees and therefore are not eligible for federal benefits. State benefits vary widely from state to state. Even after the President orders the mobilization, however, the time prior to the President’s order is considered state “time,” which leaves National Guard troops without the protection of Federal benefits for that time frame.
Due to the lack of Federal benefits, Advocacy Groups have requested that benefits be granted retroactively to National Guard troops activated during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a letter sent to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs specifically requesting survivor benefits, advocacy groups stated: “[w]e respectfully request that the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees quickly pass legislation to secure federal survivor benefits to the families of Guard members activated under state orders who die of [coronavirus] related causes. The National Guard has always answered when our nation needs them and they deserve the benefits earned for such selfless service.” The letter was submitted in advance of legislation being written to help get full active-duty benefits to National Guard and Reserve troops deployed in response to the pandemic.
Gardberg and Kemmerly continues to keep a close eye on changes to Veterans’ benefits of all kinds. As representatives advocating for those Veterans with disabilities, we understand this is a trying time. Our office is open for calls and online assistance and will continue to help our Veterans in any way possible. If you have a claim for disability and need assistance, please call our office and speak with one of our qualified Veterans’ Disability attorneys. Gardberg and Kemmerly is committed to helping injured and disabled Veterans obtain the benefits they deserve. If you need help with a disability claim, please call the office at 251-343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529 for a free consultation.