by KEVIN KNODELL
Last month’s 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation came with a surprising recommendation: cutting in half drill pay for National Guard and Reserve soldiers.
The QRMC asserts that this cut would put Guardsmen closer to “regular military compensation” and would “ensure equitable pay for similar service” compared to the Active Component. This reduction in pay would also reduce the number of retirement points from four to two for a drill weekend along with the potential retirement pay resulting from that service.
It’s true that Guardsmen receive more for their drill weekend than active-duty soldiers generally would for two days of work. What this report fails to take into account, though, is that Guard and Reserve officers and NCOs deal with Army business on an almost daily basis, whether contacting subordinates or dealing with logistics — and this is an addition to their full-time civilian jobs and commitments. It also fails to account for the fact that a drill weekend is essentially part of a seven-day workweek.
I’d also like to share a story with everyone. This occurred about this time last year.
I awoke to a phone call from a friend, a National Guardsmen, who was in serious physical pain. During drill, he’d had his wisdom teeth removed and they had ended up with dry sockets. He needed a ride to Madigan Army Medical Center for painkillers. My car didn’t have decals but his wasn’t available at all, so we took mine.
When I tried to get a pass onto Joint Base Lewis-McChord, explaining why we wanted to get on base, we were told we could not. Because my friend was not on active duty, he could not receive treatment. All day we tried to get him treatment and a prescription. Finally that evening, someone from his unit was able to call in a favor and get it paid for at a private practice.
Guardsmen and Reservists are not “weekend warriors,” they are citizen soldiers. They don’t just drop in for the weekend. They have to be ready to deploy overseas or respond to local disasters at any time, all while balancing this with full-time civilian commitments.
Times are tough, and a lot of cuts are being made. That’s expected and probably unavoidable to some degree. However, a full 50-percent pay cut for our Guardsmen and Reservists is absurd and insulting. I’m going to guess that no Congressmen will get pay cuts this year. I’m also going to guess that companies like Lockheed Martin will continue to receive generous contracts. Our citizen soldiers are worthy of the same investment.