Committee Supports National Guard Youth Challenge Program

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee today (December 9) unanimously approved legislation that would create the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, according to Committee Chairman Senator Randy Vulakovich.

Senate Bill 56, sponsored by Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), would establish the program in Pennsylvania, where members of the National Guard would run the education and training.

Now in 27 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico, the National Guard Youth Challenge Program provides a structured/quasi-military education to at-risk youths, ages 16 to 18.   It is a free, voluntary, 5 ½ -month program that helps young people who drop out of school earn their high school diploma or GED.

“I am pleased that Pennsylvania took the first step in becoming the next state to establish this program to help turn around the lives of troubled youth,” said Senator Vulakovich.  “There is an upfront cost of $1 million for this program, but the federal government will match that with $3 million.  With the results that have been shown in other states, this is a small investment with a significant upside.”

The Committee also adopted three resolutions.

Senate Resolution 156 would establish a task force on Women’s Veterans’ Health Care to address the needs of our Pennsylvania’s growing female veteran population.

Senate Resolution 254 urges Congress to pass federal House Resolution 2894, the “Caregivers Access and Responsible Expansion (CARE) for All Veterans Act.”  Current federal law provides support to caregivers of post 9/11 veterans.  HR 2894 would provide support to all caregivers of veterans and not just those assisting post-9/11 veterans.

“I commend Congressman Ryan Costello (R-Chester) for taking the lead on this legislation and I hope that this state senate resolution will spur movement at the federal level,” said Senator Vulakovich.

Senate Resolution 255 calls on the Joint State Government Commission to compile a comprehensive listing of programs benefitting active duty service members, Guard, veterans and their families.  The study will also look at services offered by veterans’ organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It will also look at benefits offered by other states.

“There are a multitude of programs across the various state agencies and our 900,000 veterans in Pennsylvania are not aware of what’s available to them,” said Senator Vulakovich.  “It’s my intent to provide as much information on these programs, services, and benefits to recruits, current members of the military.”

Contact: Nate Silcox (717) 787-6538

More information about state issues is available at Senator Vulakovich’s website, or on Facebook at