Military Personnel: Preliminary Observations Related to Income, Benefits, and Employer Support for Reservists During Mobilizations Page: 2 of 22
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Accountability- Integrity* Reliability
Highlights of GAO-03-549T, a testimony
before the Subcommittee on Total Force,
Committee on Armed Services, House of
Why GAO Did This Study
Since the end of the Cold War,
there has been a shift in the way
reserve forces have been used.
Previously, reservists were viewed
primarily as an expansion force
that would supplement active
forces during a major war. Today,
reservists not only supplement but
also replace active forces in
military operations worldwide.
Citing the increased use of the
reserves to support military
operations, House Report 107-436
accompanying the Fiscal Year 2003
National Defense Authorization Act
directed GAO to review
compensation and benefits for
reservists. In response, GAO is
reviewing (1) income protection for
reservists called to active duty,
(2) family support programs, and
(3) health care access. For this
testimony, GAO was asked to
discuss its preliminary
observations. GAO also was asked
to discuss the results of its recently
completed review concerning
employer support for reservists.
GAO is not making new
recommendations at this time, but
past reports have contained GAO's
views on actions that should be
taken to improve reservists' access
to military health care benefits and
to improve the effectiveness of
outreach programs and other
aspects of reservist-employer
relations. DOD generally
concurred with these
recommendations and has taken
To view the full report, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Derek B.
Stewart at (202) 512-5140 or
Preliminary Observations Related to
Income, Benefits, and Employer Support
for Reservists During Mobilization
What GAO Found
The preliminary results of our review indicate that reservists experience widely
varying degrees of income loss or gain when they are called up for a contingency
operation. While income loss data for current operations Noble Eagle and
Enduring Freedom were not available, data for past military operations show
that 41 percent of drilling unit members reported income loss, while 30 percent
reported no change and 29 percent reported an increase in income. This
information is based on self-reported survey data for mobilizations or
deployments of varying lengths of time. As would be expected, the data indicate
that certain groups, such as medical professionals in private practice, tend to
report much greater income loss than the average estimated for all reservists.
Although reservists called up to support a contingency operation are generally
eligible for the same family support and health care benefits as active
component personnel, reservists and their families face challenges in
understanding and accessing their benefits. Among the challenges, reservists
typically live farther from military installations than their active duty
counterparts, are not part of the day-to-day military culture, and may change
benefit eligibility status many times throughout their career. Some of these
challenges are unique to reservists; others are also experienced by active
component members but may be magnified for reservists. Outreach to reservists
and their families is likely to remain a continuing challenge for DOD in the areas
of family support and health care, and we expect to look at DOD's outreach
efforts in more detail as we continue our study.
Outreach is also a critical component of maintaining and enhancing employers'
support for reservists. Although DOD has numerous outreach efforts, we found
that a sizeable number of reservists and employers were unsure about their
rights and responsibilities. For example, a 1999 DOD survey found that 31
percent of employers were not aware of laws protecting reservists. Several
factors have hampered DOD's outreach efforts to both employers and reservists.
However, DOD is taking positive actions in this area, such as moving ahead with
plans to collect employer data from all reserve personnel.
United States General Accounting Office
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United States. General Accounting Office. Military Personnel: Preliminary Observations Related to Income, Benefits, and Employer Support for Reservists During Mobilizations, text, March 19, 2003; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc289412/m1/2/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.