New law offers protection to Wisconsin National Guard members who double as college students

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- In January, Governor Evers signed a new state law into effect to protect Wisconsin National Guard members who are also full time college students.

The law known as 2019 Wisconsin Act 75 offers an extra level of protection to students who get called to short term active duty service which interrupts their studies. Before this law, students could only get this protection if they were gone for more than 30 days.

The legislation allows students who serve to be refunded their tuition and room and board money if they are unable to complete the term. Students also have the option to complete a class early if it would end within 30 days of the initial call to active duty.

“They are citizen soldiers so they are working and serving their country and trying to get an education at the same time so we always want students to feel like they can do their job and make it as easy as possible for them to come back and finish their education after their service duties are finished,” says Miranda Cross-Schindler, Veteran and Military Services Manager at UW-Eau Claire.

Some universities including UW-Eau Claire had already been offering these protections to students, but this law mandates these protections for students at all public and private colleges and universities in the state.

Since students sometimes do not have much notice when they are called to serve, Cross-Schindler says this law helps put students at ease.

“We want to give the faculty the tools to help these students and we want to give the students the tools to not have to worry where there education is going to be at to be able to be focused on their mission,” Cross-Schindler.

According to the Wisconsin National Guard, the need for this law was realized in September 2017 when more than 2,500 guard members were called to respond to a hurricane in Florida. 398 of those soldiers were college students who had just began their fall semesters.

The law also protects students who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard reserves if they are put on orders for less than 30 days.