WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 16)—About 30 National Guard members who work on Capitol Hill attended a reception Thursday at the National Guard Memorial, the NGAUS headquarters in the nation’s capital and just a short walk from the Capitol.
“We want to let them know we’re here, let them know what we do,” said Mike Hadley, the NGAUS legislative director, to explain the reason for the reception. “So much of what we do is networking and relationships anyways. It’s not always knowing all the answers, but it’s knowing who you can reach out and talk to find the answers. There’s real benefit and value in that.”
The reception gave everyone an opportunity to discuss the Guard and their various roles, and provided an informal setting to speak with Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the director of the Air National Guard, and retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president.
“We’re trying to foster relationships and develop those relationships and also camaraderie among Guardsmen who are working on Capitol Hill,” Hadley said. “They’re working a lot of different capacities, but, suffice to say, there’s a lot of Guardsmen on the Hill.”
One of the attendees was Charles Martin, who was a NGAUS legislative fellow in the first year of the program. Martin, a Vermont Guardsman and a legislative assistant for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has firsthand knowledge of how important it is that Guardsmen maintain a presence around Congress.
“There can sometimes be a difference in policy perspective and real-world perspective,” he said. “I think having National Guard personnel actually working in policy offers a joint real world and policy perspective, where as some people come at it from one lens.”
Jim Robertson, a staff assistant for the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, is a Maryland Guardsman.
“I think it’s important to have a Guard presence on the Hill because when you think armed forces, it’s not something for a lot of people that jumps to the front of their mind, “ Robertson said. “But that doesn’t make it any less important.”
Hadley said he plans to host events like this multiple times a year. He was pleased with the turnout, but it was a bit smaller than expected because a lot of those who planned to attend went instead to the congressional baseball game at Nationals Park. The annual game, which is a charity fundraiser, was watched by a much larger crowd in the wake of the shooting Wednesday at a baseball field where Republican lawmakers were practicing.
Hadley said that going forward these events would be used to keep an issue or two in the forefront because not all staffers are involved with defense issues.
“The bottom line is that all members have Guardsmen that live or work in their district,” he said. “If they’re not in tune with these issues, they need to be.”