The U.S. House Armed Services Committee has approved the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. Committee member Joe Wilson of South Carolina spent more than 17 straight hours with the committee working on the legislation until its passage Wednesday morning.The committee included in the bill a 3.4 percent pay raise for military personnel. Wilson says he pushed to have that amount increased from the original figure of 2.9 percent.
The Richland County Republican says the legislation was extremely important to him, a member of the National Guard for 31 years, with three sons serving in the National Guard, and he’s happy about the vote. “We were able to add $600 million for equipment for the Guard and Reserves. This is particularly important as South Carolina Adjutant General Stan Spears prepares for hurricane season.”
Wilson says the Guard and Reserve were invaluable after Hurricane Hugo
hit South Carolina.
Wilson is disappointed that his amendment was defeated, which would have allowed guard members to retire early and receive retirement pay and VA benefits. That amendment also would have ended the so-called “widow’s tax”, and have extended TRICARE health insurance to Guard and Reserve members who are already receiving early retirement.
Wilson says Guard members deserve more than they’re receiving. “What’s great is that the Army Reserves, Navy Reserves, Marine Reserves and Guard forces have been instrumental in the war on terrorism. When I visit with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, I really can’t tell the difference between the Guard and Reserve and active duty personnel. They ‘re all serving with great distinction. But there is a distinction as regards their insurance and retirement programs.”