Rep. Cisneros Joins Bipartisan Group of 125 Members of Congress in Calling on Administration to Ensure National Guard Receives Benefits Earned on COVID-19 Frontlines
FULLERTON, CA - Today, Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA-39) joined a bipartisan group of 125 Members of Congress in a letter to President Donald Trump, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor calling on the administration to ensure National Guard personnel who are serving on the frontlines of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) response efforts across the nation receive the federal benefits they have earned. The full letter can be viewed here.
“Thousands of National Guard servicemembers have been providing invaluable support for testing civilians and Guard personnel, logistics and warehouse distribution, planning for Emergency Operations Centers, homelessness outreach, and much more,” wrote the lawmakers. “…National Guard servicemembers have been supporting state efforts in high threat and high risk areas, namely, medical support to prisons; frontline testing at hot spots and critical infrastructure locations; supporting tracing operations; and providing direct care to COVID-19 positive citizens, including at care facilities like Veterans Living Centers and homeless populations.”
In the letter, the Members of Congress proposed recommendations for addressing concerns related to the National Guard’s federal status, leave, health care, and GI Bill and retirement benefits. Addressing reports that National Guard personnel service may be stopped at 89 days preventing them from receiving full benefits, the members “encourage [the administration] to be inclusive of pandemic response affiliated military service to ensure that National Guard personnel are not being inappropriately prevented from accessing the benefits earned by their service.”
They continued, “…it is critical to ensure that all National Guard personnel are taken care of during this crisis and after, recognizing that the threat of COVID-19 will not immediately go away and the National Guard is likely to be called on again in the future... We are proud of [their] incredible contributions.”
“National Guard soldiers and airmen on the COVID-19 front lines nationwide greatly appreciate the support led by Sens. Gardner and Bennet and Reps. Crow and Lamborn,” said retired Brigadier General J. Roy Robinson, the president of the National Guard Association of the United States. “This pandemic is far from over. These brave men and women want to stay in the fight until their missions are complete, not to some arbitrary date on the calendar. To do that, they need the support of their leaders in Washington, including medical coverage that should follow their return home to their families.“