Retiring Guard members deserve better treatment
AN ISSUE that has caught my attention and possibly the attention of quite a few people is that the National Guard is being called upon to serve more tours in Iraq. It is ridiculous that the National Guard, created to protect the home front, is being asked to serve again in an area outside of its responsibility. That tells the public that the U.S. active duty military is inadequate as far as manning and how it is being utilized.
Many people have voiced their concerns about bringing the troops home. I applaud that notion. I am sure that though the Hawaii National Guard is "safe" for at least three or four years before being considered for call-up again, the other states might not fare as well.
But the issue I am most concerned about most is the military compensation retirement pay for those who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. Do you realize that anyone who serves in the National Guard or Reserve cannot receive retirement pay from the military until age 60? These individuals are called upon to do the same things and are put in the same positions -- in harm's way -- as the active duty soldier. Yet the active duty soldier who does 20 years of service can collect immediately, the very next month after retirement. When time has passed, it is gone -- and 20 years is 20 years; whether you spent it part-time or full-time.
Further, the part-time soldier gets prorated retirement pay, not the full amount the active duty soldier receives. He should be able to draw compensation no matter what, but the part-time soldier is again penalized because of his status. Regardless of how many years spent in the military service during that 20 years, if he served, he should be compensated accordingly and not penalized by having to wait for compensation, especially when in today's military the part-time soldier is being called to give his life or move into harm's way, just like the active duty soldier is.
THIS IS UNJUST and needs to be corrected. Legislation has be proposed suggesting that the age of compensation be lowered to 55 years of age. This is a step but it is not enough. The thing that bothers me is that our government has given the consent to order, without consideration, these brave individuals into harm's way, and most will go without question because it's their duty, and then they are treated as second-class citizens when it comes to being compensated for their loyalty, honor, dedication, bravery and sacrifice for their country; even if they have served the qualifying amount of years to receive military compensation, they are told they have to wait until age 60 to even see any compensation.
If you agree, please make compensation a right and just cause for the part-time soldiers who are doing all they can to maintain their place in society, their state and their country. Do not make them wait to get compensated for their sacrifices.
Russell Nakahara, a retired member of the National Guard, lives in Honolulu.