New laws expand opportunities for military service men and women

May 21, 2021

Nashville, Tenn. – Tennessee National Guardsmen will now have more opportunities to further their education thanks to a new law that expands eligibility for tuition reimbursement.

State Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, successfully guided passage of Tennessee’s Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen (STRONG) Act.  The STRONG Act provides eligible service members in the Tennessee National Guard with tuition reimbursement for coursework completed as full-time student in pursuit of their bachelor’s degree.

The General Assembly unanimously approved the legislation and Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill into law at a special signing ceremony at Berry Field Air National Guard Base in Nashville this week.

“Employment security for the brave men and women who serve our nation is critical for when they return to the workforce,” Moon said. “The Strong Act provides a pathway to learn new skills and offers more opportunities for them to pursue their educational goals.”

House Bill 83 expands eligibility to servicemembers for a master’s degree and certificate-producing programs.

It provides tuition reimbursement for up to 120 hours for a bachelor’s degree, 40 hours for a master’s degree and 24 hours for a vocational or technical program.  The legislation also provides reimbursement for up to 30 additional hours for any service member enrolled in ROTC or other officer-producing programs while pursuing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.

The STRONG Act has boosted recruitment of service members in the National Guard since its enactment in 2017.  The expanded program goes into effect July 1.

Another piece of legislation sponsored by Moon, House Bill 188, gives any member of the United States Armed Forces who received certified occupational training to receive credit toward an occupational license related to their military training. In order to receive credit, the service member must have been honorably discharged. House Bill becomes effective Jan. 1.

“No matter which branch you serve in, whatever your job path or how many years you served, raising your hand and committing yourself to service in the military is a brave and selfless act and one that results in few guarantees,” Moon said. “These bills provide benefits that allow us to give back to our servicemen and women but also it’s a win for workforce development in our state.”

Jerome Moon represents House District 8 of the Tennessee House of Representatives which includes part of Blount County.