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05-24-2005

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 10 months ago

May 24, 2005

ROMNEY FILES 'MASSACHUSETTS GI BILL,' PUSHES FOR BETTER SOLDIER BENEFITS

Swears in Oliver Mason as new Adjutant General of MA National Guard

 

LEXINGTON - Governor Mitt Romney today filed legislation to enhance the benefits of National Guard members, saying it will help increase recruitment efforts and honor the contributions of military men and women fighting to defend freedom.

 

Romney made the announcement as he administered the oath of office to new Massachusetts National Guard Adjutant General Oliver Mason, who replaces George W. Keefe, who retired in April after a distinguished 49-year military career.

 

Of the legislation, dubbed the “Massachusetts GI Bill,” Romney said, “Our citizen soldiers have been serving us; now it’s time for us to serve them.”

 

The bill exempts all National Guard members from paying any fees while attending a Massachusetts public college or university. Currently, Guard members do not pay tuition, but fees now account for three quarters of the cost of an education.

 

In addition, Romney is proposing to increase the per diem compensation that Guard members receive while on state active duty, from $75 to $100. This would be the first increase since 1999.

 

There are two other features to the “Massachusetts GI Bill,” both of which have been previously filed. One increases the death benefit awarded to survivors of Guard members killed in the line of duty from $5,000 to $100,000, and the other has the state pay for life insurance premiums on policies worth up to $250,000.

 

Since September 11, 2001, 9600 members of the Massachusetts National Guard have been mobilized - more than at any other time since World War II.

 

Romney honored their service at today’s ceremony, saying Massachusetts has an obligation “to do more to extend a helping hand and provide a measure of comfort” to National Guard members.

 

“Soldiers willingly sacrifice to protect and defend our freedoms. We can do our part by honoring their hard work, commitment and sacrifice by passing the Massachusetts GI Bill,” Romney said.

 

Mason is a 30-year veteran of the Massachusetts National Guard and has held a number of leadership positions during the 19 years he has spent as a full-time employee of the organization. He is a graduate of Nichols College in Dudley and holds master’s degrees in education from Fitchburg State College and Worcester State College.

 

Following 9/11, General Keefe appointed then-Colonel Mason as Director of Operations, a position that put him in charge of coordinating the Massachusetts National Guard's response at the national and state level. He was responsible for deploying military forces and providing security and force protection at major airports, reservoirs and other potential targets.

 

Prior to joining the Guard full-time in 1986, General Mason was a high school science teacher in Ayer. He resides in Millbury with his wife, Jane, and they have two children.

 

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