WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of lawmakers is asking that National Guard members deployed to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic receive additional benefits when they return to state service.
The Trump administration plans on ending National Guard deployment June 24, just one day before thousands of service members would receive additional education and retirement benefits under the post-9/11 GI Bill. The lawmakers sent a letter to President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor, urging that the Guard members receive the benefits.
“This is the definition of heartless. Just one day before thousands of National Guardsmen are set to receive additional education and retirement benefits, the Trump administration plans to end their deployment,” U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland said in a news release. “Let me repeat — this administration is ending their deployment one day before they would receive additional benefits.”
A National Guard spokesperson told Politico that the Guard could decide to extend the deployments.
“We’re not there yet on the determination,” the spokesperson, Wayne Hall, told Politico. “Nobody can say where we’ll need to be more than a month down the road.”
National Guard members have provided logistical support, humanitarian relief and medical care to communities across the country. The Ohio National Guard has helped provide food to those in need through the Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley and the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
“Our national success in flattening the curve will not be possible without the contributions of the National Guard,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “We believe it is critical to ensure that all National Guard personnel are taken care of during this crisis and after, recognizing that the threat of COVID-19 will not immediately go away and the National Guard is likely to be called on again in the future.”