Congressman Stephen F. Lynch today introduced the "Military Education Parity Act of 2005" (H.R. 333), legislation that would ensure that Reservists and National Guard members who are called up to Active Duty are not penalized by their institutions of higher learning.

The legislation would protect active duty military personnel from losing class credits or forfeiting their scholarships or grants.  It would require that colleges and universities effectively "freeze" the educational standing of service men and women when they are mobilized.  Today, the men and women of the National Guard and the Reserves have no such protection.

Congressman Lynch said, "Today, we are incredibly fortunate to have more than 870,000 Americans who have volunteered to join the National Guard and Reserves.  And as a nation, we are asking more of these men and women than we ever have before.  We're calling them up on shorter notice, we're extending their deployments overseas, and we're asking them to put themselves in harm's way on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It makes perfect sense that we should not penalize men and women who are called upon to serve our country.  Ideally, one would hope that a law like this would be unnecessary.  It is my hope that this bill will provide a guarantee that no enlisted person will have to give up their scholarship or research grant or their educational goals in order to fulfill their patriotic duty.”

More than 200,000 of National Guard Members and Reservists are students at institutions of higher education.  Congressman Lynch’s legislation would help those men and women by:
• Granting students a military leave of absence when they are called or ordered to Active Duty and restoring their educational status when they return;
• Protecting students from losing their academic credits, scholarships or grants;
• Requiring schools to refund tuition or fees paid prior to the commencement of Active Duty.

Lynch continued, "As the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines dwindles, America is relying on her National Guard members and Reservists more and more.  Approximately half of the 135,000 men and women serving in Iraq come from the National Guard and Reserves.  When they were called up to Active Duty, they were forced to leave behind their families, their friends, their careers and their education.  We have a responsibility to help them restart their education when they return home."