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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Reports: Wounded Guard and Reserve Members Mistreated

November 7, 2003
Press Release
Washington, DC - Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston) joined 130 Democratic Members of Congress in calling for an investigation into media reports that detail instances of hundreds of sick and wounded members of the National Guard and Reserve who are being housed in poor conditions, without indoor toilets, and receiving second-rate medical care.
 
We write to convey our surprise and disappointment over recent press reports describing substandard living conditions and deplorable treatment for hundreds of sick and wounded members of the Army National Guard and Reserve, Rep. Green and his colleagues said in a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. We believe that an immediate investigation is warranted, and if the facts portrayed in the media are even half true, corrective action from the highest levels of the Department should immediately ensue.
 
Reps. Ken Lucas (D-KY) and Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the ranking members on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, in response to reports from Fort Knox, Kentucky and Fort Stewart, Georgia, initiated the letter. Other Members of Congress have heard similar complaints from their National Guard and Reserve constituents around the country and are demanding that the Department of Defense take actions to improve the living conditions and treatment of our brave servicemen and women.
 
It is simply unconscionable to think that our National Guardsmen and Reservists who have sacrificed so much for their country would be treated in such a second-class and discriminatory way, the letter continued.  The thought that these dedicated Americans would be forced to live in unimproved barracks, denied timely medical appointments, or provided reduced benefits for their ailments is flatly unacceptable. 
 
The 130 Members/Democrats requested an explanation of what steps the Department of Defense is taking to investigate these reports, whether any of the facts have been confirmed, and what action you are taking to remedy the situation and prevent any similar future occurrence.
 
See letter below:
 
                            
November 7, 2003
 
 
 
The Honorable Donald L. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon, DC 20301
 
Dear Mr. Secretary:
 
            We write to convey our surprise and disappointment over recent press reports describing substandard living conditions and deplorable treatment for hundreds of sick and wounded members of the Army National Guard and Reserve.  These reports indicate that Army National Guard and Army Reserve troops at Fort Stewart, Georgia and Fort Knox, Kentucky have been housed in poor quality housing, without indoor toilets, and have been receiving second-rate medical care.  We believe that an immediate investigation is warranted, and if the facts portrayed in the media are even half true, corrective action from the highest levels of the Department should immediately ensue.
 
            It is axiomatic that the role of the National Guard and Reserve in our military forces has changed.  Long gone are the days when these forces simply provided replacement manpower for active duty units in the event of a conflict.  With the advent of the Total Force Policy in the wake of the Viet Nam conflict, our National Guard and Reserve forces have become more and more integrated into the active duty components.  Indeed, today some mission capabilities, such as civil affairs, psychological operations, tactical airlift, water purification and aerial refueling, reside primarily or even exclusively in the Reserve components.  Senior military leaders routinely tout the performance of our National Guard and Reserve forces as being instrumental to our battlefield success and ongoing rebuilding efforts in Iraq.
 
            Against this background, it is simply unconscionable to think that our National Guardsmen and Reservists who have sacrificed so much for their country would be treated in such a second-class and discriminatory way.  The thought that these dedicated Americans would be forced to live in unimproved barracks, denied timely medical appointments, or provided reduced benefits for their ailments is flatly unacceptable.
 
Please provide us with an explanation of what steps the Department of Defense is taking to investigate these reports, whether any of the facts have been confirmed, and what action you are taking to remedy the situation and prevent any similar future occurrence.
 
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and we look forward to your reply in the very near future.
 
                                                            Sincerely,
 
 
 
Ike Skelton                                                         Ken Lucas
Member of Congress                                             Member of Congress
 
 
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