Trump Screws Over Frontline COVID-19 National Guard

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Over 40,000 members of the National Guard have been deployed to states to assist them in testing for coronavirus and tracing how the disease has spread through the region. These are individuals who often had to leave their jobs to go on duty. Rather than be appreciative, the Donald Trump White House tried to screw them..

By implementing a rare “hard stop” requiring them to halt on June 24, the administration ordered them pulled from duty just one day before many of them became eligible for federal benefits. Trump gave them an 89-day deployment that prevented members from being eligible for both educational and retirement benefits.

Should the Guard members want to retire at age 60, they must serve 20 years. In areas where they served during federal emergencies, they can knock 90 days off the time they served before retiring. That three-month period also granted them “40 percent off of their tuition at a public college or university.” After serving, the Guard also has to self-quarantine for two weeks.

An official representing New England’s FEMA held an interagency call and said:

‘We would greatly benefit from unified messaging regarding the conclusion of their services prior to hitting the 90-day mark and the retirement benefit implications associated with it.’

National Guard spokesperson Wayne Hall released a statement that read:

‘We’re not there yet on the determination. Nobody can say where we’ll need to be more than a month down the road.’

Retired Brigadier General J. Roy Robinson, who is president of the advocacy group the National Guard Association, said:

‘It seemed kind of weird to me. It’s a Wednesday. And it also coincides with 89 days of deployment for any soldiers who went on federal status at the beginning. I was getting all kind of calls about it and I said, “It’s probably just a coincidence.” But in the back of my mind, I know better. They’re screwing the National Guard members out of the status they should have.’

He continued:

‘If someone’s new in the Guard, they won’t be able to make that 90 days in one shot. But if two months from now they’re called up for a hurricane or flood, they can make it then. The goal here is not to hurt Guardsmen.’

Robinson said that he was pushing for passing the Joni Ernst (R-IA) –Joe Manchin (R-WV) bill. In addition, he reminded people that these members of the Guard risked their lives:

‘They’re working side-by-side with doctors, nurses and first responders. And we’re going to cut them off and send them home with no health care coverage while they transition back to their civilian life. Not to mention, some of their jobs may have evaporated since they were deployed.’

Federal Liaison for Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, Casey Katims, said the state would do what it could to keep the Guard on duty should their federal deployment come to a halt in June. However:

‘[T]hat footprint will necessarily be smaller without federal support. All of the missions are going to continue for months to come,” he said. “The need for testing, the need for meals, the need for contact tracing don’t disappear on June 25. So if the administration allows [Trump’s order] to expire, that will mean fewer personnel to assist Washington in each of these critical missions.’

North Dakota has one of the highest coronavirus test rates per capita but the lowest number of fatalities. The state has 100 members of the National Guard testing between “350 and 750” residents every day. Major Waylon Tomac appeared in a promotional National Guard video. In it, he said:

‘Local public health is somewhat understaffed, so we bring the bodies.’

The Guard would also be available to North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum should he want them to go to State Active Duty:

‘The people of North Dakota have been exceptional in fighting Covid-19 and we’re here to support the state and its citizens regardless of our federal or state status.’

 

Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.

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