Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Slams Trump Administration Move to Deny Benefits to National Guardsmen Fighting Coronavirus

May 19, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DCRep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) issued the following statement in response to the reported news that the Trump Administration will implement a hard stop at 89 days of duty for over 40,000 National Guardsmen — just one day short of the 90-day threshold for qualifying for early retirement and education benefits through the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
 
“Citizen-soldiers in the National Guard across the country answered the call to serve during a time of crisis, standing up to support overwhelmed federal, state, and local governments on the front lines in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In doing so, they leave their families behind and put their own well-being and lives at risk,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Rather than making a decision about when to end the activation of National Guard Soldiers and Airmen based on the public health needs of the American people, the Trump Administration has chosen the despicable path of intentionally cutting these servicemembers orders at 89 days just to pinch a few pennies by depriving them of the benefits they’ve earned and are guaranteed to them by law. This is a slap in the face to every servicemember and their families who sacrifice willingly and greatly to serve our states and our nation. President Trump must right this wrong and honor these servicemembers by making decisions about their service based on the needs of the American people, not the whims of bureaucrats.” 
 
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, where she currently serves as a Major.
 
As the COVID-19 coronavirus public health crisis grew, Rep. Gabbard drew attention to the plight of frontline workers, many of whom worked exceedingly long hours, sometimes without adequate protection, and under uncertain conditions which put themselves and their families at risk. This included National Guardsmen deployed to help overwhelmed local governments respond to the pandemic.
 
She urged House Leaders to support essential workers and to adopt labor rules that would ensure they receive full pay as they work to serve others during the pandemic. She also called for first responders and emergency service workers to receive hazard pay as well as additional resources for supplies — especially PPE — so they can keep safe while protecting Americans during this crisis. Rep. Gabbard has called for specific provisions to protect frontline healthcare workers, including financial assistance, preventing pay cuts, and protecting these critical workers against retaliation for things like wearing their own personal protective equipment or whistleblowing on unsafe practices in their facilities.
 
She has been a leader in Congress fighting to ensure that U.S. service members, veterans, and their families receive the care they need and deserve. In January, introduced a bipartisan bill to improve care at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Last year, along with Rep. Ross Spano (FL-15), she introduced H.R.5169, the TRICARE Fairness for National Guard and Reserve Retirees Act to ensure that retired members of the National Guard and Reserve personnel and their dependents receive the health care benefits to which they are entitled. 
 
In addition to raising awareness about the challenges faced by Hawai‘i’s veterans, she has been an outspoken leader across a range of healthcare challenges that veterans face including recognizing and providing healthcare for victims of Agent Orange and burn pits, sexual assault, improving care for the growing number of female veterans as more and more women serve, meeting the needs of disabled veterans as well as veterans in rural areas, and tackling the challenges of suicide and mental health.
 
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
 
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