Obama Announces Plan to Honor Sacrifices of National Guard and Reservists as President
U.S. Senator Barack Obama today said that as President, he will honor and recognize the unique sacrifices that come with service in the National Guard and Reserves by ensuring they are deployed responsibly and receive the medical care and benefits they deserve when they return. In his remarks, Obama recalled the story of Iowa's 1st Battalion of the 133rd Infantry Regiment who learned from friends and family back home that their deployment had been extended and recently returned home after 22 months of service in Iraq.
"It's time to use the Guard and Reserves responsibly," Obama said. "No more unpredictable deployments. No more extended tours. No more failures to plan, to communicate down the chain of command, or to reset the equipment that we've left in Iraq. When we've got service-members who have to find out that their tour has been extended in a phone call home, we're not keeping that trust, and we're not keeping this country safe."
Obama said that as President, he will require a period of rest and standard of readiness before Guard troops can be redeployed. He also said that he will elevate the Chief of the National Guard to the rank of a four-star general and make him or her a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To ensure that Guardsmen and Reservists and their families are taken care of back home, Obama said he will improve mental health care, including screening and treatment for PTSD, and will extend the Family Medical Leave Act so that spouses have time to care for their families when their wife or husband is called up. Finally, Obama said he understands the critical role the Guard and Reserves play in their states, and will work with Governors across the country to ensure they can accomplish their missions back home.
"I will not be a President who sends our Guard off to fight in a misguided war, while telling America's governors to hope that a big snowstorm won't hit next winter, or that a tornado won't come through town. I will not be a President who extends tours for our Guard units overseas, while Americans are stranded on rooftops right here at home. We need to turn the page," Obama said.