WASHINGTON, June 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 45,000 current and former National Guard officers have appealed to a prominent member of the extended Guard family to help win their No. 1 legislative priority.
Retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the president of the National Guard Association of the United States, wrote to President Joe Biden asking him to support the Healthcare for Our Troops Act (H.R. 3512) introduced recently in the House of Representatives.
The bipartisan legislation would provide the military's TRICARE medical coverage at no cost to every member of the National Guard and Reserves.
In his June 3 letter, Robinson thanked the president for his "heartfelt statement of appreciation" to Guard members completing their security mission at the U.S. Capitol on May 23. He also reminded the president that he had promised Guard members that "we will always have your backs."
The president and first lady Jill Biden have long said they have a kinship with the Guard because their late son was a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.
"Most Americans would probably be shocked to learn that we sent soldiers and airmen to the front lines of the worst public health crisis in a century without health insurance," Robinson wrote. "We did the same during civil disturbances last summer and when responding to hurricanes and wildfires.
"The problem is," he added, "nearly one in five Guard members has no private health insurance and they are usually not entitled to government-provided coverage when mobilized for domestic missions."
The Healthcare for Our Troops Act would ensure that every man and woman who wears the cloth of their country is provided medical coverage.
"National Guard members will continue to be deployed in high numbers at home and abroad to defend American security, and medical readiness is vital to the ability to rapidly deploy," Robinson wrote. "They are part of an operational force that Americans count on to be always ready, always there. We would never debate the need to provide full medical coverage to active-component service members — it is long past time that we view the Guard and Reserve in the same light."
Introduced last month by Rep. Andy Kim, D- N.J., and Rep. Trent Kelly, R- Miss., the Healthcare for Our Troops Act (H.R. 3512), would offer no-fee coverage through TRICARE, the military's health insurance program, to every Guardsman and Reservist.
The legislation is co-sponsored by several other members of the House, including Rep. Tim Ryan, D- Ohio, and Rep. Steven Palazzo, R- Miss., the co-chairs of the House National Guard and Reserve Caucus.
It is also a legislative priority for Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau. He recently told Congress that it is "one of my most pressing concerns."
The NGAUS letter to the president follows. https://www.ngaus.org/sites/default/files/inline-files/releaseletter061421.pdf
About NGAUS: The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment and training by educating Congress on Guard requirements. Today, 143 years later, NGAUS has the same mission.
SOURCE National Guard Association of the U.S.