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Minnesota National Guard
Our view: D.C. delegation scores for Minnesota soldiers

Nearly 3,000 Minnesota “Red Bulls” — as the National Guard members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team are famously nicknamed — already were deployed, already were in Kuwait last fall, when the sucker-punch edict came down

The Defense Department decided to cut by at least half the number of days of leave promised to Guard members and Reservists who were deployed beyond their usual rotation cycles The extra time off had been granted in 2007 as part of the Post Deployment/Mobilization Respite Absence program, or PDMRA In cases of extraordinary sacrifice — meaning more-than-expected time away from family and lives back home — Guard members and Reservists were given four extra leave days for every extra month of active duty they were made to serve That suddenly changed in October to only one or two extra leave days, depending on location of service

“In the middle of their deployments, nearly 50,000 active-duty Guard members and Reservists learned that an important benefit already promised to them would not be honored,” US Sen Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, wrote in a column for Memorial Day weekend “That was wrong”

But fixable, thanks to Klobuchar and others, including others who represent Northeastern Minnesota’s interests in Washington, DC, namely US Sen Al Franken, D-Minn, and US Rep Chip Cravaack, R-Minn  Klobuchar introduced legislation to guarantee “that all of the reserve-component troops originally eligible for the full PDMRA benefit should receive what was promised to them,” as she wrote “When the Pentagon changed the policy, it should have made clear that troops currently serving on active duty would be grandfathered in under the original policy But it didn’t … You would think it might be pretty simple for the Defense Department to correct its mistake Of course, that wasn’t the case”

Franken co-sponsored the legislation He also ripped off a strongly worded letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

“They have served courageously,” Franken wrote of Minnesota’s National Guard members “It is unfair to take away benefits they were promised”

Making matters worse, as Franken pointed out in his letter, “This is not the first time the Red Bulls have encountered problems with their earned PDMRA benefits Within days of being sworn in to the Senate in mid-2009, I co-sponsored a bill that redressed the failure to compensate service members … for eligible service”

In the House, Cravaack co-sponsored the companion bill

“When I attended the Red Bulls’ deployment ceremony last year in Pine City, Minn, one of the commanding officers in the brigade, Lt. Col. Eddie Frizell, said to the families, ‘I’ll bring them all home,’ ” Cravaack, a 24-year veteran of the US Navy, recalled in a statement “True to his word, the first thing Lt. Col. Frizell said in a hand salute to Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, when his feet touched the ground (upon returning to) Minnesota was, ‘I brought them all home’ I do not think it is too much to ask that those who were promised 24 days of extra leave for up to two years of deployed service should receive that paid leave”

Doing the right thing wasn’t too much to ask, as it turned out Thanks to the actions and urgings of Klobuchar, Franken, Cravaack and others, the bipartisan legislation (how could it have been anything but bipartisan?) passed and was signed into law this month by President Obama

A wrong was made right Elected leaders worked well together to fix a problem

“This is a problem that should never have happened But it did And it should not have taken an act of Congress and the signature of the president to fix it But it did,” Klobuchar wrote “In the end, what’s most important is that our nation kept faith with our dedicated men and women in uniform When they signed up to serve and defend our country, the door was open and they were welcomed in When they return home and look for their hard-earned benefits, they shouldn’t find a door that’s closed with red tape”

Published May 29, 2012, 12:00 AM
Article source
http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/232746/group/Opinion/



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Posted: 2017-12-13  10:11 AM
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Posted: 2017-12-12  11:29 AM
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