Hoeven Meets with National Guard Bureau Chief to Outline Legislation to Improve Guard Benefits, Need for New Facility in Fargo for 119th Wing Operations

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, recently met with National Guard Bureau Chief General Joseph L. Lengyel and secured his commitment to support legislation to expand health care and education eligibility and benefits for National Guardsmen and Reservists. The senator also outlined the need for a new operations facility for the 119th Wing in Fargo to support the unit’s mission. The senator has been specifically working to:

  • Extend eligibility for the TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) program for all active and reserve members of the National Guard;
  • Enable Guardsmen to concurrently use the GI Bill and Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA) programs to fund their education;
  • Build a new MQ-9 Reaper facility for the 119th Wing at Hector Field.

“The men and women of our North Dakota National Guard do an incredible job protecting our state and nation,” said Hoeven. “We need to make sure they have access to the benefits they have earned. That’s why we’re working to increase their access to health care options and to improve tuition benefits. We’re also working to ensure construction remains on schedule for a new Reaper facility for the 119th Wing to support its important mission.”

Expanding Eligibility for TRICARE Reserve Select Program

Currently, members of the National Guard and Reserve who are also federal employees cannot enroll in the TRS program because they are eligible to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP). Other servicemembers can use TRS instead of their employer-sponsored health care. 

Hoeven helped introduce the bipartisan TRICARE Reserve Improvement Act with Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The legislation would correct this disparity and extend TRS eligibility to all Guardsmen and Reservists.

Improving Tuition Assistance for Reservists

The Department of Defense (DOD) does not allow students in the Guard and Reserve to use GI Bill and FTA program funding concurrently, although active duty servicemembers have this privilege. Hoeven is working to introduce legislation that would direct DOD to put Guard and Reserve education benefits on par with active duty benefits.

New MQ-9 Facility for Fargo Air Guard

The North Dakota Air National Guard 119th Wing Operations Group’s current MQ-9 Reaper operations facilities need to be upgraded to support new advanced technology and equipment. The wing will have to stand down MQ-9 operations if a new building is not constructed on schedule. Hoeven is working with North Dakota National Guard leadership and the National Guard Bureau to ensure the construction timeline for this new MQ-9 Operations building remains on schedule.