Oct. 01, 2019

Rep. Rep. Torren Ecker (R-Adams/Cumberland)
It is always exciting when Pennsylvania can claim to be the first in the nation. It is even better when it involves looking after our servicemembers’ families.

A new initiative, which is the first of its kind in the United States, will help our Pennsylvania National Guard members and their families by extending the Pennsylvania GI Bill to close family members in exchange for additional service. This was passed unanimously in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf in June of this year.

Act 32 of 2019 (formerly House Bill 1324) extends the current Pennsylvania National Guard Military Education Program to a guard member’s spouse or child. The benefit will be offered in exchange for a guard member’s six-year reenlistment.

It was an honor to co-sponsor this legislation and to help move the legislation through the Veteran’s Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee and vote in favor of the bill when it was in the House.

Under the law, the educational benefit can be used at any Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) institution or any institution of higher learning approved by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. If the approved institution costs less than the annual tuition rate charged by the state system schools, the student would not pay anything. If it costs more than PASSHE’s annual tuition rate, the student would only pay expenses in excess of PASSHE’s annual tuition rate.

This initiative helps to not only increase reenlistment but also helps provide for a better future for our Commonwealth through additional educational opportunities.

Our Pennsylvania’s National Guard members are some of the best and well-trained soldiers in the nation. Often, guard members are tasked with responding to disasters, such as hurricanes, throughout the nation. Additionally, these brave men and women are deployed overseas to assist their enlisted servicemembers. The professionalism of the men and women who oversee these missions is at par with their federal counterparts. Our guards members represent various backgrounds and walks of life. This includes Representative Zach Mako, who has recently been deployed to Afghanistan.

This law will help retain the brave men and women we rely on most. I have heard firsthand from guards members that they are excited and extremely grateful for this initiative. It was truly an honor to witness the signing of the bills into law.

I want to thank the members of the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, as well as all members of our armed forces. Your service ensures our safety.

Representative Torren Ecker
193rd Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Greg Gross
RepEcker.com / Facebook.com/RepTorrenEcker