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Date: Jan 16, 2007
BENEFITS FOR LI'S NATIONAL GUARD, RESERVISTS LAG BEHIND ACTIVE MILITARY, U.S. SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER ANNOUNCES AT HOFSTRA
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY - Contending that benefits for Long Island members of the National Guard and Reserves who are called into military service lag far behind those for active military, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer Monday announced new sweeping legislation to close the benefits gap. The announcement came at a press conference at Hofstra University, which Schumer said he selected because of its strong ROTC program.
Under the current system, Schumer said, a reservist who attends school and participates in fulltime training receives only a $297/month stipend while active duty soldiers receive $1097/month. Schumer also said that while 18% of disability claims by members of the National Guard and Reserves are denied, only 8% of active duty claims are denied and called for an immediate federal investigation into the disparity.
"Long Island residents who join the National Guard and Reserves and serve overseas are every bit as brave and sacrifice every bit as much as active military members, and thus ought to be treated fairly, no questions asked," Schumer said. "With the Guard and Reserves already stretched nearly to the breaking point during this holiday season, the current two-tiered system needs to be leveled immediately. We cannot and must not shortchange these heroes."
Schumer's bill would double the education benefit for members of the reserve component to $600/month; ensure that members of the Guard and Reserve can receive medical treatment close to home; and reimburse members of the reserve component for travel costs. Schumer also wrote to Veteran's Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson asking him to direct the Department of Veteran's Affairs Inspector General to immediately investigate why reserve component claims are denied at such a greater rate than active military.
Schumer spoke at Veterans Plaza at Hofstra University, home of the Thundering Pride ROTC Battalion which has been on campus since 1951. There are currently 85 cadets in the battalion including students from other local colleges that are allowed to enroll. Among those joining Schumer for the announcement was Lt. Col. William Abb, the head of Hofstra's ROTC program, along with several of his cadets and officers from the program.