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Army brass will confront National Guard fairness complaints

Post by Matt Misterek / The News Tribune on May 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm with 15 Comments »
May 18, 2010 1:48 pm

A contingent of high-ranking Army officials will speak to the news media at Joint Base Lewis-McChord today to address concerns raised by Oregon politicians that National Guard soldiers have been treated unfairly and disrespectfully compared to active-duty soldiers returning from a war zone.

The 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Oregon National Guard returned this spring from a one-year deployment to Iraq, where they served under the command of Lewis-McChord’s I Corps. Some soldiers complained about their medical processing after coming home, and voiced their concerns to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, both Oregon Democrats. The politicians, in turn, brought the concerns to the attention of Army officials.

Wyden and Schrader wrote a letter to the secretary of the Army this week saying Oregon reservists were “systematically denied their benefits,” according to a an article in The Oregonian published Monday. One sergeant told the newspaper he believed as many as 185 injured soldiers from the 41st Brigade were wrongly forced off active duty.

Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., Lewis-McChord’s senior commander and I Corps commanding general, said he launched an inquiry to investigate the complaints, and later met with Wyden.

“This past year, I Corps was deployed to Iraq and fought side by side
with the 41st IBCT,” Jacoby said in a statement this morning. “We have a shared combat experience and consider the 41st one of our own. It’s simply not reflective of our culture to treat one unit differently from another – Active or Reserve. Anything we find during our inquiry, we will fix. We will keep faith with our fellow Soldiers.”

Joining Jacoby at a 2 p.m. press conference today will be Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff; Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the surgeon general; Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe, commanding general of the Western Regional Medical Command; and Brig. Gen. Jeff Mathis, the National Guard officer who served as acting commander of the local installation while I Corps was deployed in 2009 and early 2010.

Look for more coverage later today and in Wednesday’s News Tribune.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. retired81 says:

    It is my understanding of the law that the states National Guard are not supposed to be used outside of the U.S. except for training. Each state has them for a reason. To protect the state.

  2. lgcnelson84 says:

    Not true… especially during times of combat. With that said, the numbers of National Guardsmen being deployed is very low when compared to their Active Duty counterparts.

    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RS22451.pdf

  3. Militia (a.k.a National Guard) have been employed by the Federal Government in combat dating back to the war of 1812. My uncle was part of the C.A.C. during WWII (which was a facet of the NG) and was deployed as part of the 63rd Artillery in France during WWI.

    The troubles raised here are nothing new. The Army always gives precedence over guardsmen. It is a practice that needs to be abolished and equal benefits must be applied for anyone who serves in combat operations.

  4. Whatever1214 says:

    I remember way back when draftees had a different prefix to their service number. “US” as I recall while regular army had serial numbers that began with “RA”.

    When we got dog tags and put our service number on our boots etc., the Army told us not to use the prefix because if captured the enemy would try to play the draftee soldiers against the regular army soldiers.

    Same kind of thing except it is not the enemy this time.

  5. Justsayin says:

    I’m a Washington Army National Guardsman and here’s my experience in these matters; A small number of National Guard Soldiers will shoot their mouths off without impunity because they know they’re going back to the night shift at the factory post-deployment and many try to get more from Uncle Sam than they signed up for or were entitled to. I remember a Guardsman asking Sen. Patty Murray for a program to retrain Guardsmen that worked in the tech industry upon redeployment as a year away would put them so far behind, they would never catch up with the industry. I have served with both LTG Jacoby and Gen. Chiarelli (the latter in combat) and they admire the National Guard greatly so rest assured, the bottom of this will be found.

  6. juandd11 says:

    Having served in all three (Regular Army, National Guard, and Reserve), I can attest to the fact that Guardsmen and reservist are often treated differently than their Full time counterparts, I’m not sure why this is other than a little resentment but it does need looking in to and remedied.

  7. cmbrown522 says:

    Since when do guardsman deserve the same as active duty????? Yeah they may deploy and be activated for a year period, but lets not forgot that they are parttime soliders. Active Duty soldiers serve a min. of 3 years while guardsman serve 365 days at the most when deployed. In the civilian world…. parttime employees do not get the same bennies as fulltime employees so why is this different for the Army?

  8. One has to wonder how many of the soldiers that are saying they were forced off of active duty had jobs to go back to. I for one would much rather stay on active duty with no real job to do before going back home to no income. Don’t get me wrong some of them could really need further care but is’nt that what the VA system is for. The injuries I had while active duty are handled by the VA not by staying on active duty longer.

  9. Fomer "Guard" member says:

    Hmmm..being a former solider and a “Guardsman” the statement of the returning soldiers hit home. Regular Army (RA) mentality has always been biased in the treatment of their reserve/guard component members. Even in basic training National Guard members are referred as ” No Go” ,referring to National Guard. Even after deployments some guard/reserve members still have to fight to obtain their federal entitlements and are treated like second class citizens…no matter active, guard or reserve we all serve our nation and our people…treat them like the HEROES they really are…thank them for their service and commitment to keep our nation FREE!

  10. retiredin03 says:

    Let me tell you about the real problems at hand. The article leads you to believe that MAMC dropped the ball which may have happened but the real problem comes from the ARMY system. When a unit like the 41st DEMOBS they come back in huge groups and are herded to JBLM SRP site. The system rushes them through the DEMOB process because they put a time constraint on this process for these Guard and Reserve units. I guess so that they can get them off active status because of the cost of keeping them active while in the states.

  11. retiredin03 says:

    These type of units demob in a matter of just a few days. So your talking about 1500 to 2500 soldiers. So about 350 to 500 being processed a day. These soldiers stand for hours in huge lines waiting to be serviced because of this kind of scheduling process. Not only do the soldiers get tired of these long hours and long lines as do the servicing staff. As a result these are the kind of issues that come from this herd type scheduling and Rush Rush service. The brass never realize this because when they are serviced in a VIP manner never having to deal with these lines and hours. And of course if they have any problems they get 5 star treatment unlike that of their soldiers.

  12. retiredin03 says:

    I agree that some bias exist between active and reserve & NG. But how could it not. The NG and Reserve are only part time employees, so why don’t the states take care of thier soldiers better making sure that they are given some kind of a L&I if they are unable to return to work along with VA benifits. I think any soldier deserves appropriate medical care a treatment but alot of this can be done at home through VA and the NG state agencys. Keeping every single NG soldier with a medical problem on active duty while they are awaiting treatment is a huge cost on the tax payer. If this is such an issue to these politicians why don’t they pass policy that turns these soldiers into active duty soldiers for 2 -3 years just like the active duty and then they might not have all these complaints.

  13. bandgpierce says:

    This is for those who keep calling National Guard members part time. We arent part time willing to die for our country. I spent 16 !/2 years active duty and was part of Desert Storm, and served with the 41st this last year and see no difference in the willingness to die for their country. To call the soldiers who gave their lives, bodyparts and put themselves in harms way on convoy security missions everyday while the active unit on our FOB stayed on the FOB is a disrespectful and ungreatful. Guard soldiers give up their daily grind at the drop of a hat and fight alongside their active counterparts or should i say we have their backs just like a battle buddie would. So enough of the part time crap.

  14. While some NG’s are part time government employees, many are full time government employees. The difference here is, in my opinion,null and void. All service personnel should get the same benefits.Period. Perhaps if we as a nation required all Citizens of The USA to serve a minimum period of service, less bickering would ensue concerning the issues of fairness,benefits, etc.
    Thank You to All Our Soldiers for Your Service! I am proud of each and every one of you!

  15. Hey I think it is weird to say part time hero so lets not. Many Americans never take the time to serve at all( myself included for my own reasons).

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