The National Guard has a unique mission among the military services. Normally, the Army and Air National Guards function under the command of the governors of the state in which the unit is stationed. Each unit has a mission designated by the state governor to support state authorities. But they also have a federal mission to accomplish in wartime, and are subject to call-up by the secretary of defense at the order of the president in times of crisis. While base pay and benefits are subsidized by the federal government, each state can add additional benefits to encourage soldiers to enlist and remain in the Guard.
All National Guard soldiers and airmen are entitled to the Montgomery GI Bill reserve component benefits, and soldiers on active duty, in the AGR program (Active Guard and Reserve program) are entitled to the full GI Bill education package. Most states also offer additional educational benefits to Guard members, including tuition waivers at state universities or other tuition assistance, and student loan repayment programs.
Some states give Guard members a credit or deduction against state income taxes. Hawaii excludes the equivalent of one year's drill pay for an E-5, or sergeant, from state income taxes. Nevada allows Guard members an exemption from state sales taxes while on duty, and Virginia exempts up to $3,000 per year in Guard pay from state income taxes.
While all Guard members are eligible for a pension if they have completed 20 qualifying years of service, some states also provide sweeteners to encourage service in the Guard. The state of Florida, for example, has authorized Guardsmen who have completed 30 years of service in the Florida National Guard to collect a state pension in addition to their Guard pension.
State legislatures have approved a number of additional smaller perks for Guard members, which vary significantly by state. In most cases, these benefits are not extended to members of the Reserves, since Reservists are not state employees. For example, Florida allows Guardsmen to register a free set of car tags once per year. Georgia allows Guard members to carry a distinctive driver's license after one year of service.
- National Guard Almanac, Dana Smith, et. al., 2010
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