AN INSULT TO OUR SOLDIERS -- (Extensions of Remarks - March 23, 2004)
HON. MARK UDALL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 2004
Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, earlier this month the New York Times published an opinion piece on payroll system problems in the military-specifically in our National Guard. The piece quoted a letter from a soldier in my district, SGT Daniel Romero, who was killed in an explosion in Kandahar, Afghanistan, nearly two years ago.
In a letter to a fellow sergeant, Sergeant Romero wrote, "Are they really fixing pay issues [or] are they putting them off until we return? If they are waiting, then what happens to those who (God forbid) don't make it back?"
Sergeant Romero was referring to payment problems that he and his fellow soldiers had experienced. In a November 2003 report that studied the payroll processes of six Army National Guard units called up to active duty, GAO found-among other things-that some soldiers did not receive payments for up to six months after mobilization. Payment problems are not limited to the Guard, but as my colleague Representative SHAYS pointed out, the payroll process is antiquated, designed for a time when members of the Guard were not often called up to active duty.
The following piece asks an important question: "As we mobilize troops from around the country and send them off to fight and possibly die in that crucible of terror known as combat, is it too much to ask that they be paid in a timely way?"
SGT Daniel Romero died for our country. He was a brave and dedicated soldier who proudly served when his nation called on him to fight in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
It is the very least we can do to ensure we work as hard for soldiers like SGT Romero as they work for us. That's why I believe that fixing these payment problems should be an immediate priority for the Department of Defense.