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Plan would help National Guard access benefits

Nov. 28, 2012 - 01:44PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 28, 2012 - 01:44PM  |  
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Every state would have a transition assistance adviser dedicated to helping National Guard members access benefits and health care under a proposal introduced Tuesday in the Senate.

The plan, unveiled by Sens. Robert Casey, D-Pa., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., as an amendment to the 2013 defense authorization bill, requires the appointment of transition advisers based on the size and deployment of National Guard forces.

At a minimum, states would need to have one adviser available for a period beginning 180 days before and ending 180 days after deployment. Additionally, states would be required to have at least one permanent adviser if at least 1,500 National Guard members reside in the state. States with more than 5,000 Guard residents would need one adviser for every 1,500 members.

Advisers would be paid by the Defense Department, which would be responsible for establishing the program and providing the advisers.

The advisers would be responsible for setting up programs to disseminate information on relocation, health care, mental health care and financial support, not just for Guard members but also for residents who are veterans of active duty. Advisers also would provide information on support services available to veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

The amendment would set aside $10 million to start the program in 2013, and give the Defense Department three months to set up the program, a clock that would start if the amendment becomes law.

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