Hoeven Working to Secure New Operations Facility for the 119th Wing MQ-9 Mission, Strengthen Guard & Reserve Education & Health Benefits

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, today held a roundtable with leaders from the North Dakota National Guard and the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Air Force and Army ROTC on his work to strengthen the missions and benefits of the state’s Guardsmen and Reservists, which includes:

  • Securing a new operations facility for the 119th Wing's MQ-9 mission;
  • Enabling Guardsmen and Reservists to concurrently use the GI Bill and Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA) programs to fund their education;
  • Extending TRICARE Reserve Select (TRS) eligibility to all Guardsmen and Reservists.

“The 119th Wing’s Reaper mission supports military operations around the globe, and we’re working with the National Guard Bureau to get them a new facility that can meet the demands of their expanded capabilities,” Hoeven said. “This unit is a prime example of how our Guardsmen and Reservists are an essential component of our armed forces. We need to ensure they have access to the same health and education benefits as active duty personnel. That’s why I introduced legislation to allow members of the Reserve Component to concurrently use GI Bill and Federal Tuition Assistance when paying for their education, as well as helped introduce bipartisan legislation to extend TRICARE Reserve Select eligibility to all Guardsmen and Reservists.”

A New 119th Wing MQ-9 Operations Facility

The North Dakota Air National Guard 119th Wing’s Operations Group flies the MQ-9 and needs updated operations facilities to support new advanced technology and equipment. Hoeven is working with North Dakota National Guard leadership and the National Guard Bureau, including meeting recently with Bureau Chief General Joseph L. Lengyel, to secure the new facility and fund its construction. A delay in this effort would result in the wing standing down MQ-9 operations until the building is completed.

Improving Education Benefits

Last week, Hoeven and Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced the Montgomery GI Bill Parity Act which would enable members of the Guard and Reserve to, similarly as active duty servicemembers, concurrently use Federal Tuition Assistance programs and GI Bill benefits to fund their education.

Extending Eligibility for TRICARE Reserve Select

Hoeven helped introduce the TRICARE Reserve Improvement Act with Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The bipartisan legislation would extend TRS eligibility to all Guardsmen and Reservists, including those who are currently ineligible because they are also federal employees who can enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan (FEHB) Program.