NGAUS Washington Report
May 1, 2018
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., wants to make sure National Guardsmen sent to the border with Mexico will be properly paid and receive all the benefits to which they are entitled.
Duckworth, who is not a fan of the mission, sent a letter last week to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, seeking details of a mission requested by President Donald Trump. She said those items have not been made clear.
“Setting aside my serious reservations about the merits of this mission and the lack of evidence indicating a real operational need for this surge in personnel, my [principal] concern now is making sure that the Guardsmen are appropriately taken care of while activated and during post-mobilization,” she wrote, according to Military Times.
Early indications were that up to 4,000 Guardsmen could eventually see duty on the border. They were also to be activated under Title 32, which leaves them under control of governors, but paid by federal dollars.
Duckworth wrote, “As you know, the length of activation and the manner they are called to duty will impact the benefits individuals they are eligible for, (be they medical, educational, home loans or any other benefit military service entitles them to), and affect the stability of a service member’s home and work life.”
She also asked Mattis and Nielsen for the full cost and length of the mission.
Duckworth retired from the Illinois National Guard in 2014, but remains a NGAUS member. She lost both legs and the use of one arm when the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter she was flying was shot down by insurgents in 2004 in Iraq.
Also last week, Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, asked in a letter to Mattis for “a comprehensive, long-term strategy for [troops’] role in southern border security.”