Congressman Rahall supports the U.S. National Guard's role
Regional-USA, Politics, 8/23/2011
U.S. Congressman Nick Rahall reported on 8/19/2011 on America's front lines and the relation to the U.S. National Guard serving overseas.
From Lexington and Concord, to Iraq and Afghanistan, to Katrina and flooding in southern West Virginia, the citizen soldier has long defended America's front lines.
As we welcomed members of the National Guard from across the Nation for their national conference in Charleston, I also want to enlist everyone in the fight to get a seat for them at the Pentagon's head table on decisions affecting their, and our, future. With painful cuts to the federal budget looming in Congress, the Guard's voice needs to be heard loudly and clearly, about the invaluable service they render.
More than ever our country is relying on members of the National Guard for deployments abroad and to bridge gaps in our civilian defenses here at home. The multiple roles the Guard plays in our lives depend on superior training and rely on the finest equipment available for their missions to be successfully executed and completed. Training, equipment, comparable pay, and benefits come at a price, but our country gets far more in return.
Investing in our Guard is a long-term investment in our Nation's defenses and our economy as well. In Fiscal Year 2010, the West Virginia Army National Guard alone had more than a half-billion dollar economic impact on our State's economy. In goods and services alone, the Guard pumped more than $90 million into the economy. Multiply the Guard's impact across the country and its importance to our national economy becomes readily apparent.
Certainly, our Guard members deserve such a degree of recognition as well as a strong voice at the table when military strategies and budgets are developed. To raise the Guard's profile, I introduced a bill in the US House of Representatives to include a position within the Department of Defense's Joint Chiefs of Staff for the National Guard.
The Joint Chiefs are responsible for ensuring policy, planning, and training of their respective military services, and serve collectively and individually as military advisors to the President of the United States and Secretary of Defense. Elevating the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to a position on the Joint Chiefs of Staff places the Chief in a position to influence Department of Defense planning and budgetary deliberations, and advocate for troop readiness and response utilization in the home front mission.
My bill was passed with bipartisan support in the House, and now awaits action in the Senate, where Senator Rockefeller has introduced companion legislation, S. 242.
Helping to raise the profile and address the needs of these dedicated, loyal men and women in uniform will be a struggle, especially as the Congress considers legislation to reduce the deficit. Already, efforts are underway to extract savings and cut back in all areas of the budget, including defense programs. In the Congress, I will continue to advocate a strong national defense budget to provide the resources, equipment, and training the Guard needs to safeguard our Nation.
Always at the ready, like the Minutemen of the Revolution, we have increasingly grown accustomed to having the men and women of our National Guard respond at a moment's notice. When floodwaters have torn through our towns and homes, the Guard has been there for us on the ground at all hours of the day and night. On distant shores far from homes and family, the members of West Virginia's Guard continue to serve with honor and distinction.
Ealier in the year, Rahall, who serves the State Of West Virginia said on the occasion of Major General Allen Tackett stepping down as The Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard that "From the Civil War that gave birth to our state, to present-day wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the record of service by so many patriotic West Virginians places our state in the top percentage of all Americans who have donned America’s uniform. As Mountaineers, we are incredibly proud of our record and extraordinary military leaders." Rahall who had held strong positions on the Middle East related issues, added in describing the retiring general "On occasion, Senator Byrd enjoyed comparing General Tackett’s skills to those of the Carthaginian General, Hannibal. I agree with the Senator – when Allen Tackett tackles a problem, it is as if his opponents are facing a thunderous herd of raging bull elephants." Fellow U.S. Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia who passed away last year was noted for being a historian and lover of history and the constitution. Rahall had said earlier this year "On the first full day of the 112th Congress, I commended the public reading of the U.S. Constitution in the U.S. House of Representatives, and expressed my hope that the new Congress would live up to the example and the expectations of the Constitutional Framers."
Rahall said in his report that "Our Country has a responsibility to support the great service the Guard has given. When they signed up, we did not promise them half a commitment. We pledged a full promise of benefits. To those Guard members who have sacrificed and to those families whose who have lost loved ones in service to their country, we owe a lifetime of veterans' benefits that should be as an inviolate and sacred oath as the one our Guard Members took on enlistment."
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