In April, Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.-6) introduced a piece of legislation that would close a loophole in the Uniformed Servicemembers Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act (USERRA) protections for members of the National Guard and Reserve called the National Guard Employment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1879).
Under current USERRA laws, members of the Guard and Reserve only have recourse against employers if they are mobilized for active duty under Title 10 orders. However, in recent years, members of the Guard have been increasingly activated for Homeland Security missions, which fall under Title 32. Current law provides no employment protections under Title 32, which Coffman hopes to correct.
"The soldiers and airmen serving in the National Guard must have the same reemployment rights irrespective of where they are ordered to serve. We need to recognize that those who are called up for a homeland security mission can face the same hardships and challenges in trying to get their civilian employment back as someone who has been away from their civilian occupation due to an overseas assignment or some other mobilization to active duty," said Coffman in a recent statement.
On Thursday, AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley will testify before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in support of Coffman's bill. American Veteran will be on hand to cover the hearing.
Coffman is the latest veteran serving in Congress to call for action on USERRA. Last month, Ohio Congressman John Boccieri introduced the Servicemembers Employment and Re-Employment Rights Act of 2009 (H.R. 1474) alongside Alabama Congressman Artur Davis and Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, which would allow veterans to pursue their USERRA claims on accelerated dockets within state court systems.
Both Coffman and Boccieri are featured in the latest issue of American Veteran magazine, which highlights veterans of the Iraq war elected to serve in the 111th Congress.