When I restarted this website and YouTube channel last year, I said I would avoid giving political opinions. I hope to still keep that vow while still informing you of an interesting event from earlier today.
During the Senate budget debate this morning, a senator brought up some interesting facts unique to reservists. That senator was Mrs. Joni Ernst, a retired National Guard officer. I found a transcript of her speech on C-Span.com. I will paste part of her comments below. There were no paragraph breaks so I added breaks where they seemed most appropriate.
Mr. President, I rise today to urge Senate Democratic leadership to end their reckless government shutdown. It’s no secret that over the years I’ve made clear that I don’t like funding our government from one short-sided Band-Aid bill to another. We must establish a path forward to responsibly fund our government for the long term. It’s responsible and right thing to do for our military, for future generations, for our veterans, and for the American people. But rather than finding a long-term funding solution to ensure stability in our military, the Senate Democratic leadership has decided to shut down the government.
So what does that mean for our military? Well, for starters, critical defense projects have come to a halt. We can also see delays in maintenance of our critical aircraft, ships, our weapon systems at a time when our adversaries are becoming more aggressive and more advanced. And our service members who put their lives on the line every day for our country don’t know when they will receive a paycheck.
I have an advisor right now that is deployed to the Middle East. I received an e-mail from him this morning and he said it’s really hard for all of us here knowing that our government is shut down, but he said every day it’s the same for us here in Afghanistan. We will do what we need to do. God bless him for that. Iowa National Guardsmen are deployed overseas right now. One of my former units, the 248 aviation support battalion is spread out through the Middle East doing their mission while we struggle to find a way forward for them here in Washington, D. C.
Military schools have been canceled. I spoke to an active duty army officer this morning. She was scheduled for her pre-command course this weekend and her orders were canceled. She told me, I will not be able to go to that pre-command course before I deploy. She will head overseas not having had a vital course to instruct her on leadership in the military. The likelihood of her picking up that course again in the future, near zero — near zero.
Additionally, having served as a battalion commander in the Iowa National Guard during our last government shutdown, I can tell that you these shutdowns have a significant impact on our National Guardsmen. A shutdown prohibits our citizen soldiers from participating in drill and training exercises essential to our military readiness.
Our public affairs officer sent out this notice this morning from the Iowa National Guard. The headline, Iowa National Guard feels effect of federal government shutdown. Nearly 900 technicians furloughed. That’s in Iowa alone. Approximately 400 personnel sent home from weekend training. That’s just Iowa. 110,000 National Guardsmen were affected over this last weekend because of the shutdown. Now, should these men and women be called to defend our nation in the face of danger, it is critical that they are properly prepared and a government shutdown does not allow this.
During the time that the government shutdown goes on, we’re not able to maintain our equipment. That hurts our readiness. Our personnel can’t do their wellness and medical checks. That hurts our read aniness — readiness. Our military can’t get to their schools for advancement in their careers, that hurts our readiness. Once those orders to school has been canceled, you can’t just pick up on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and say, okay, I’m going to school now, there are only so many slots allocated. If you miss that training period, you may be waiting months, perhaps even years to pick up those schools in the National Guard.
During the shutdown our folks are furloughed. Depending on how long the government is shutdown, our citizen soldiers might not receive enough training days to be adequately prepared for duty. This could also mean that their time serving throughout the year might not be included in their total years of service, potentially further jeopardizing their benefits and pay. What a lot of folks here that haven’t served in the military or guard or active duty, what they don’t understand, in the reserve and guard you have to meet so many points in a year for that to be considered a good retirement year. If you fall a few days short of that, the entire year does not count towards your retirement. The entire year does not count towards your retirement.
It is very rare these days to have any politician who has military experience. Even rarer is seeing a representative or senator who is knowledgeable about not just military affairs but details about reserve service, as well. How often do you see someone stand up and mention specifics about reserve life, such as the difficulty of getting school slots or the basics of a retirement year? Whatever you may think of the political parties, if you are a reservist then it is refreshing to see at least one elected official who has an understanding of your perspective.
If you would like to read the full transcript of Senator Ernst’s speech, you can find it at https://www.c-span.org/video/?440061-2/senate-votes-81-18-end-shutdown-leaders-reach-deal-daca-debate&vod&start=125. There is also a YouTube video of her speech which can be viewed at https://youtu.be/tQKrK0kDZ2A.