Sen. Chris Coons supported on Dec. 17 the passage of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes early retirement benefits for members of the National Guard and Reserves who deploy on certain missions overseas under what’s called “12304b” authority.

Since the authority was created, more than 18,000 Guardsmen, including members of the Delaware National Guard, have deployed in support of critical missions around the world. Yet, these service members don’t receive the same benefits as active duty service members who deploy alongside them.

Last Congress, Coons introduced the bipartisan National Guard and Reserves Benefits Parity Act, which aimed to ensure that members of the Guard and Reserve forces who deploy under 12304b authority receive the same benefits as their active duty counterparts. Two of the bill’s provisions passed into law in last year’s defense bill, but the third, which would reduce the age at which members of the Guard and Reserves can receive retirement pay by three months for every 90 days they are deployed under 12304b authority, was not included. Coons said he is proud to see that this third provision is included in the fiscal year 2020 defense bill.

“Members of the Guard and Reserves in Delaware and around the country should have access to the full range of benefits they deserve. This includes early retirement benefits for those who deploy under 12304b authority,” said Coons. “The defense authorization bill is critical to our national security and our service members, and I’m glad to see that this year’s bill helps to ensure that Guardsmen and Reservists are fairly compensated.”