For Service to Country After 9/11, National Guard Responders Deserve Fair Treatment
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) sought a Congressional hearing on legislation that would to ensure that all National Guard soldiers who responded to counties declared disaster areas after the terrorist attacks will receive federal military retirement credit for that service to the country.
The legislation, H.R.948, is aimed at redressing a technicality that is preventing some National Guard troops from receiving federal retirement credit, while others are receiving that retirement credit for similar service after 9/11. In particular, several hundred soldiers from the New York Army National Guard who responded to the World Trade Center site after the September 11th terrorist attacks are not receiving the military retirement benefits they deserve. Many of the soldiers who guarded Ground Zero after the attacks were not officially put on federal active duty; as a result, they did not receive federal military retirement credit for their more than 300 days of service. Other soldiers from the same unit were activated under federal duty to help secure the U.S. Military Academy, and have received the appropriate retirement credit. Clearly, all National Guard troops who served during this unprecedented national emergency deserve equal status.
To correct this inequity, Representatives Maloney and King introduced HR 948 in February of 2005, joined by co-sponsors Gary Ackerman (D), Maurice Hinchey (D), Tim Bishop (D), Jerrold Nadler (D), José Serrano (D), Charles Rangel (D), Edolphus Towns (D), Nita Lowey (D), Carolyn McCarthy (D), Michael McNulty (D), and Steve Israel (D), all from New York.
Today, Maloney and King announced their request for a Congressional hearing on the legislation made to Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Ike Skelton (D-MO), the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the House Armed Services Committee.
Congresswoman Maloney said, “We need to match our statements of gratitude with action for those who served after 9/11. Every National Guard soldier who served in a disaster area after 9/11 deserves fair and equal treatment from the federal government. If a soldier served at Ground Zero, rather than protecting a federal site, they still deserve federal status and equal retirement benefits for that time served, because they were all protecting our country.”
Congressman King said, “It is fundamentally unfair that soldiers from the same Battalion are being compensated differently for their September 11th related service. Providing federal retirement credits to all members of the National Guard who served in disaster areas after September 11th is simply the right thing for Congress to do.”
The letter from Maloney and King to Representatives Hunter and Skelton is available at: http://maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/files/documents/olddocs/Sept11/042605HASCHearingRequest.pdf
Congresswoman Maloney also expressed appreciation to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for introducing the companion legislation for this bill in the Senate, saying, “Senator Clinton has been a constant and an effective advocate for those who served in response to 9/11. I am hopeful that our collective efforts, including her position on the Senate Armed Services Committee, will help us deliver for these members of the National Guard who served so diligently in response to 9/11.
BACKGROUND: The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were an unprecedented event in American history. At Ground Zero in New York City and the Pentagon in Virginia, thousands of first responders, including members of the National Guard, worked during the following days and weeks to help with rescue, cleanup, and security efforts.
The 1st Battalion was the first National Guard unit to arrive at Ground Zero. In the hours after the attacks, the Battalion assisted medical teams treating the wounded and participated in rescue and recovery operations. The Battalion worked through the night and into the morning of September 12th, when they were directed to help secure the perimeter around the World Trade Center site. The Battalion continued this mission for 315 days. Many members of the 1st Battalion are now arriving in Iraq, having recently departed New York, for a tour of duty in the ongoing conflict there.
These soldiers were not serving under federal active duty. As a result, their days of service do not count toward their military retirement credit. However, other Companies in the 1st Battalion were activated under federal duty and served at West Point to help with its security. Because all of these National Guard members clearly aided in the federal response, they should all have those days counted toward their military retirement credit.