"Weekend Warriors"? The shameful treatment of an Oregon National Guard Unit

 
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"Weekend Warriors"?  The shameful treatment of an Oregon National Guard Unit

This story absolutely has me seeing red:

Oregon National Guard soldiers returning from Iraq received poor treatment as they were processed through Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a military official said.

An investigation found failures, errors and deficiencies last May when the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team came home, Defense Undersecretary Clifford Stanley said in a letter Wednesday regarding the probe sought by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

National Guard members complained they were treated as second-rate soldiers, The News Tribune reported Friday. Slights included a slide in a training presentation that showed a trucker's cap with the words "Weekend Warrior" to represent reserve soldiers.

 

You should go read the rest of the article if you get a chance, but kudos to Sen Wyden for following up on this.

I remember in 1997 I was at my National Guard Armory and a new guy came in.  He was thinking of joining our unit, but was concerned by rumors that the unit might get activated and sent to Bosnia.  It was a concern for him not because he didn't want to serve, but because he was an Air Traffic Controller in the World, and going from that salary to E5 pay would really hurt.  He had just bought a house, and had two young sons and a wife to provide for.  I essentially goofed on him.  No one was activating a National Guard Infantry unit out of Virginia to go to Bosnia.  So he joined the unit.

I don't know why he is still friends with me, but he reminded me of my erroneous prognostication every single day for 8 months as a week after my statement we received our orders.  Luckily he had the short-lived deployment insurance, so he got his civilian salary, otherwise he probably wouldn't be inviting me to Indians/Red Sox games, but might have beat me to a pulp.

Since then, hundreds of Guard Units have been routinely activated and sent to combat.  Some guys I knew would hop into a unit to deploy, wait until they got back and find another unit heading out.  I joined on a "try one" contract JUST to go to combat. 

One of my major complaints about my deployment was that it seemed Guard units were often relegated to Force Protection (read: Guard Towers) when all the regular Army guys got the sexier assignments.  That is apparently not the case anymore, as Guard and Reservists are getting all the same assignments.

Even so, how unconscionable is it that troops would be treated as second-class veterans based on their component?  A veteran of the global war on terror, or whatever we call it now, should be revered and treated respectfully, not with slideshows that relegate them to a ridicule. 

Posted in the burner | 5 comments
 
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Comments

Mothax, I think we saw the same powerpoint presentation in Benning.

The days of "one weekend a month, two weeks during the summer" are gone.

AD, NG and Reserve get their funding from different buckets. I can remember 3 distinct lines in Basic for chow because their was different sheets to sign.

The article goes on to describe a systematic issue with the SRP process. And I do believe that the SRP process is lacking.

The reality is that National Guard and Reserve are treated differently. And they are very different from AD. When the SRP moves into it's usual glacial speed a soldier in either of those two groups have a perceived choice: Stay on AD longer or ignore/drop the issue. Active Duty can get the issue quickly documented and then taken care of once back to the duty station. Reservse and National Guard does not have that luxury. There is no VA liason at SRP locations to start the documentation needed to begin the after care.

How might the Yellow Ribbon program fit into all this? I know I just learned about that program last summer when one of the volunteers for a Soldiers' Angels function who also volunteers for the Red Cross - and whose husband is former Marine and current TXARNG was on mid-tour leave from Iraq at the time - said Soldiers' Angels should go to the Yellow Ribbon events. I've been covering them with other volunteers since July. I know they have YR events both pre- and post- deployment for both the soldiers and their families, and during the deployments for the family members.

I know this doesn't address the poor treatment these guys received, but should those assist in the types of things BNG is talking about?

Obama and Congress for making it so difficult to drill for oil and natural gas in the US and offshore. The same is true for the national dept and unemployment. Our government is stupid for not utilising the natural resources that we already have in abundance. We are probably thirty years away from becoming independent from fossil fuels, but only a few years away from becoming a third rate country. In the meantime, our GIs are fighting and dying overseas so our enemies can sell us oil at inflated prices. I am a practising environmentalist, but the welfare of this country, and the men and women serving in the military comes first.

Mothax,

Experienced similar treatment at Fort Carson during our brigade's redeployment from Afghanistan in 2004. The lack of professionalism by the 7ID and garrison soldiers is symptomatic of discipline issues in the command, not a AD v NG v AR issue. Likely that's been corrected.

I was a door gunner for a med-evac unit and sometimes had to help load the wounded and as we would take off I look into there eyes and tell them they were going home or they would be ok. hold the hand and sometimes watch their eyes turn to glass. then again when we would get back base and hose the blood out of the choppers just to do it all again" when called" i guess to me there was no difference if one was active, gaurd, or reserve. They were just my brothers and sisters!

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.