Most of us know someone who is or has been a member of the National Guard.
The National Guard is a special part of the United States military that answers to both state governors and the president. Therefore, it has both state and federal responsibilities.
Governors can call on members to serve as temporary law enforcers. Presidents cannot under normal circumstances. They can only use the power by invoking the Insurrection Act. Eisenhower used it to enforce integration of schools after a United States Supreme Court ruling made racial segregation unconstitutional. John F Kennedy used it in Alabama and Mississippi for the same reason.
Currently there are 450,000 Guard members serving across the fifty states, Washington, DC, Guam, Puerto and the Virgin Islands. Many are part-time while having full-time jobs. Troops commit to one weekend of training per month plus a minimum of a few weeks of service per year.
These troops are called upon to perform all kinds of duties. They have been involved in disaster aid such as fighting wildfires and hurricane relief.
Some play a role in supporting military operations in other countries. Members of the Guard have fought in nearly every United States conflict since the Revolutionary War.
After the recent attack on the nation’s capital, members were once again called upon to help keep the peace during the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Over 20,000 troops were sent to Washington, D.C. to provide security for the inauguration.
Last week it was reported that some members of the Guard were forced to stay outside in a parking garage after being asked to leave the capitol.
Photos taken of soldiers sleeping on the floor of the garage circulated quickly and the outrage began. The bright red, blue flames heated up.
Republicans blaming Democrats and Democrats saying they did not know anything about it.
One GOP representative wrote Nancy Pelosi demanding to know why the soldiers were being treated so poorly. I know Nancy has her nose in a lot of things but in this case she is blameless. She has no oversight of the Capitol police or the deployment of troops.
The Guard issued a statement saying they moved troops at the request of Capitol Police. The Interim Police Chief said her agency “did not instruct the National Guard to vacate the Capitol.”
He said, she said.
The matter was resolved when the troops were allowed back inside later that day. Both the Guard and Capitol Police say they have established “appropriate spaces” within Congressional buildings for on-duty breaks including hotel rooms and other accommodations.
The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said he is glad the matter was handled but “demands to know who did this.” He claims it is not a blame game but it sure sounds like one.
President Biden expressed his sincere apology for the way troops were treated and Jill Biden even brought them some cookies and thanked them for protecting her family.
The solution is simple. Find the person who did this and fire them. No need for investigations or public hearings.
The governors of Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Iowa say they are so outraged they want their boys brought home.
You must question where this loyalty to the Guard was last summer when troops were first deployed to aid in the pandemic response. Guardsmen were sent to distribute food to hard-hit communities, transported hundreds of thousands of test swabs, collected test samples and volunteered to work in hospitals across the country.
Yet they were deployed for a term of 89 days. The significance of that is on the 90th day, they would become eligible for GI Bill assistance as well as enhanced retirement and health care benefits. Cutting them off at 89 days meant they were not eligible.
Critics of the plan said the cutoff date was an intentional move by the Trump administration to reduce costs associated with the federal government response to the pandemic. Administration officials were accused of being “heartless.”
After receiving a letter from the United States Defense Secretary and only 70 lawmakers asking for an extension did Trump do so.
The National Guard Association of the United States has advocated for transitional healthcare coverage for Guardsmen who come off coronavirus missions. A current Senate bill would provide such coverage for six months. This is comparable to what Guardsmen receive following overseas missions.
A recent move in Congress to equalize pay and benefits for active-duty troops fell by the wayside the last time it was introduced.
If these Congressmen and women are really concerned about our Guards, they will use this opportunity to make changes that benefit the Guards.
It is the perfect time to see who really cares about Guards and who is using them for political mudslinging.
Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.