The Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act of 2020 was signed by the President last week, expanding benefits to more Guardsmen and their families.

President Trump signed the legislation on January 5, narrowly missing an accidental “pocket veto.” Had he not signed it when he did, the measure would not have become law unless the new Congress passed similar legislation.

One of the legislation’s many new benefits is 12 months of fully paid maternity leave for drill-status women in the Guard and Reserve. They will also receive retirement points. This closely mirrors the same program women on active-duty have had since 2016.

(The National Defense Authorization Act for 2021 also included health benefits for Guardsmen by providing six-months of transitional medical coverage for Guardsmen and their families after Title 32 coronavirus response missions. In the past, Guardsmen had received transitional coverage, after overseas assignments, to cover any lingering medical issues. Yet, this is the first time that they receive coverage after a domestic mission.)

Health benefits weren’t the only benefits included in the Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvements Act.

The new legislation credits, for the first time, service under Title 32 (federally funded but under state control) toward VA home loans. The threshold for the program is 90 cumulative days on Title 32 with at least 30 consecutive days.

Until last week, Guardsmen qualified for no-money-down, VA-guaranteed mortgage only if they had served and mobilized under Title 10 for 90 days consecutively or had six years of total service.

Another provision expands Fry Scholarship eligibility for the children and spouses of troops who died on or after September 11, 2001, due to their military service.