The U.S. National Guard was deployed back in March as it became clear that the coronavirus outbreak was out of control so that they could help set up field hospitals, help with testing, and carry out other necessary tasks. Many of these came with a serious risk of exposure to the virus.
Now, the Trump administration reportedly wants to recall the National Guard on June 24—exactly one day before the 90-day mark when they would become eligible for benefits under the 2008 Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The GI Bill gives important benefits such as help with education expenses to those who are deployed for at least 90 days. If recalled on June 24, the first National Guard members deployed for the pandemic will be just one day short of being allowed access to those benefits, which would be available to them for the rest of their lives.
NEW: I obtained a recording of a recent call with top Trump admin officials discussing a June 24 "hard stop" for the 40k+ National Guard members who are the backbone of coronavirus testing/contact tracing/food delivery in many states https://t.co/xK3VRLXx0v— Alice Miranda Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) May 19, 2020
This recall decision is not proving to be popular among the public, much of whom would like to see the people who risked their lives to try and deal with the fallout from the government’s slow and weak response to the crisis. That might be why it wasn’t announced the public, but was obtained by POLITICO via an audio recording and confirmation from a “senior FEMA official.”
When asked for comment, FEMA admitted that the Trump administration’s order for funding the current National Guard deployment indeed ends on June 24, but said that an extension of that order is possible.
“We’re not there yet on the determination,” said spokesperson Wayne Hall. “Nobody can say where we’ll need to be more than a month down the road.”
The Trump administration did issue an extension after Democrats and Republicans sent a joint plea to the president asking him to extend the National Guard deployment to the end of the year. However, he didn’t extend it quite that long. Instead, it was bizarrely stretched for just 24 additional days, ending in the middle of the week.
“It seemed kind of weird to me,” said President of the National Guard Association retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinso. “It’s a Wednesday. And it also coincides with 89 days of deployment for any soldiers who went on federal status at the beginning. I was getting all kind of calls about it and I said, ‘It’s probably just a coincidence.’”
This sounds like the kind of thing that could help be determined by everyone making a big stink about it until Trump extends the deployment and pretends it was all his idea. Plenty of people on Twitter are already working on it.
What a total and complete POS.— The USA Singers (@TheUSASingers) May 19, 2020
Trump is recalling our National Guard after 89 days.
1 day short of the 90 days they needed for their benefits to kick in.
That’s what you get when you put a greedy draft-dodging coward in charge of the military.https://t.co/YCNBy5hBZg
Thousands of National Guard Troops service is being ended by Trump, just one day short of qualifying for educational benefits, the GI Bill and retirement. ONE DAY SHORT.— Frederick987 (@Frederick987) May 19, 2020
Thats what Trump thinks of Service People.
Trump is ending 40,000 National Guard members' deployments after 89 days, so they don't qualify for benefits at 90 days.— JRehling (@JRehling) May 20, 2020
He's treating our military as badly as he has always treated everybody else.https://t.co/8GUGNPT4bC
Because he doesn't know what it is to earn. Anything. Ever.— The Saddest Koala (@ElizabethNum1) May 19, 2020
This kind of thing is so shortsighted.
Every one of those people serving in the National Guard is a voter.
And they will all have family and friends who are voters, too.
This action from Donald Trump is likely to cost him lots of their votes.
— London Titan (@LondonTitan) May 20, 2020
Don’t you support the troops, Donald?