Monday, September 28, 2009

Territorial Guard issue seems to be a no-brainer

There's an issue that has been going around the ringer for awhile now, but really came to a head last week. Honestly, I'm still trying to make sense of it. It seems pretty simple to me.

Twenty six guys, still alive today, were asked to serve their country in World War II. Okay, so a lot MORE than 26 guys were asked, but I'm talking about these guys (and so is everyone else.) They did. They protected a valuable territory - still too few people know that parts of Alaska were invaded, successfully for a time, by the Japanese. They continued to serve their country long after, over twenty years. They are all old men now, in their eighties, and they've been collecting a (SMALL!) pension for their service. They would like to continue to receive their pension. Twenty six guys.

From the Anchorage Daily News article:

State lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year to fill the pay gap until Congress made a permanent fix, but the White House said Friday it didn't think it was "appropriate to establish a precedent of treating service performed by a state employee as active duty for purposes of the computation of retired pay."


This was a WTF? moment for me. I've been a supporter of the Obama Adinistration since well before it was an Administration. In this, they have it way, WAY wrong.

I've heard stories about these men for awhile now, and always thought it was a pretty neat thing for our men to have done. Even while the Aleut people were being forced to leave their homes by the US Government, Alaska Natives served their country proudly, and bravely. It amazes me, in a time when"No Natives or Dogs" was common, that these men had no hesitation. It was, after all, the home of ancestors a millenia past they were protecting.

I'm not even sure I fully understand the "state" comment - especially since there was no state of Alaska when these men siged up - and wouldn't be for another 17 years. So the state is responsible for the program needed by the federal government, 17 years before the state government would come into existence?

From Sen. Begich in a KTUU report:

"And for us to say to them that we're not interested because someone in the chain of command... said, ‘Well, it would set a precedent,' unless you can find me another Alaska Territorial Guard program in this country, I'd have that debate and I'd say, ‘Maybe you're right,' but there is none," Begich said.


I am frankly baffled by this, and wish someone could explain this to me in a way that seems reasonable. For sixty some odd years it was reasonable to continue honoring their service, but now, suddenly, it would set a dangerous precedent?

It seems to me the only precedent the continuation of the payments is setting is that the federal government will continue to care for those that took care of us, when they were called upon. In the billions we are spending right now on pork barrel this and pet project that, we really can't scrape together 26 monthly pensions for some brave old men the majority of Americans all agree deserve it?

This really is outrageous, and I hope someone wakes up over there soon.

_

8 comments:

Bill Hess said...

I agree. I made a little post on the subject myself. Come take a look:

http://wasillaalaskaby300.squarespace.com/journal/2009/9/25/obama-administration-wrong-in-effort-to-deny-pensions-to-26.html

sandra said...

If these men were in the National Guard in some state, wouldn't they have gotten service credit?

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