(March 7, 2017) Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, the NGAUS president, will testify Thursday before a joint hearing of the veterans’ affairs committees of the House and Senate.
Hargett will address three issues of interest to Guardsmen that fall under the jurisdiction of the committees. They are:
- The unequal compensation for reserve-component members serving under the mobilization authority of 12304b when they deploy alongside members of the active component;
- The need to strengthen numerous provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act; and
- Efforts to reduce the suicide rate within the National Guard.
“My goal today is to highlight these particular issues and offer possible solutions for your consideration,” Hargett will tell the lawmakers, according to a draft copy of his remarks.
In his testimony, Hargett will support legislation introduced by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., that would remove some of the inequity found in 12304b, and the re-introduction of a bill from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., that would clarify the procedural rights of Guardsmen regarding USERRA.
He will also recommend efforts to stem the problem of suicide, including standardized behavioral and mental-health programs within the Defense Department, increased funding to hire more Guard chaplains and directors of psychological health, and legislative approaches that expand a Guardsman’s access to health care and increases the quality of that care.