I received a newsletter today from the senator, and sent a reply. I really don't know if anyone at his office reads these things, but they might, and I like to share my opinion sometimes. While I would like to see the number of military actions and bases decrease considerably, and all those in Iraq brought home immediately, I responded only to the actual article from the senator.
Here was my response, followed by the newsletter itself:
While I agree that the hardship on the reservists and guardsmen is great, I think that before just throwing money at them, we should instead change the structure of the military. If more soldiers are needed to support the hundreds of long term military actions across the globe I think that we should increase the size of the regular army, so that we can utilize the reservists for a reserve purpose only. This will ensure that we have a reserve force in the future, as many of them, returning from much longer deployments than they thought possible, will not re-enlist, and the recruiting numbers are down as well for new reservists due to the deployment issues. As for the National Guard, they are never supposed to leave the homeland, and should be used for the defense of our borders instead. They should be brought home immediately, solving that issue completely.
Newsletter from the office of Senator Richard Shelby:
RESERVISTS NEED INCOME RELIEF NOW
By: Senator Richard Shelby
In support of the war on terror, the State of Alabama and
its citizens, like many other states throughout the country, have made
significant sacrifices for our nation. Many of our armed forces have
been called upon to participate in major deployments in support of
military operations overseas. In fact, Alabama has mobilized more
National Guardsmen per capita then any other state, with 4,140 Alabama
Reservists and Guardsmen mobilized as of last week in support of our
global military commitments. Since September 11, 2001, 89% of the
Alabama Air Guard and 49% of the Alabama Army Guard have been called up.
Today, our National Guard and Reserve units are being called upon more
than ever and are being asked to serve their country in very different
circumstances than in the past. The Global War on Terror and Operation
Iraqi Freedom have heightened our military's operational tempo which now
requires that our Reserve component play a more active role in the total
In the past, our Reservists were exactly what their name implied - a
backup force called upon one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
However, as the Cold War melted away, so did much of our military.
Active duty numbers were reduced as our major threat, the Soviet Union,
fell apart. Since this reduction in our active duty armed forces, the
burden has fallen to the Reservists to fill the void.
Unlike any other time in our nation's history, we now depend heavily on
our Reserve component. As of February 23rd, 184,481 soldiers, sailors,
airmen, coast guardsmen, and Marines were mobilized to participate in
major deployments, including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation
Iraqi Freedom. These deployments frequently necessitate extended tours
of duty, many of them exceeding twelve months, for these
These long tours and frequent activations have a profound and disruptive
effect on the lives of these men and women and on the lives of their
families and loved ones. Many of our Reservists suffer a significant
loss of income when they are mobilized - forcing them to leave often
higher paying civilian jobs to serve their country. Such losses can be
compounded by additional family expenses associated with military
activation, including the cost of long distance phone calls and the need
for additional child care. These circumstances create a serious
financial burden that is extremely difficult for Reservists' families to
manage. We can and should do more to alleviate this financial burden.
In an effort to address this critically important issue, I, along with
Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, recently introduced the Military
Reserve Mobilization Income Security Act. This legislation would
provide a completely refundable income tax credit of up to $20,000
annually to a military Reservist called to active duty. The amount of
the tax credit would be based upon the difference between wages paid by
the Reservist's civilian job and the military wages paid upon
mobilization. The tax credit would be available to members of the
National Guard or Ready Reserve who are serving for more than 90 days
and would vary according to their length of service.
We recognize that some businesses continue to pay Reservists full
salaries while they are activated and that other businesses and local
governments support Guard and Reserve families by picking up the
difference between their civilian and military pay. These employers
should be praised for their patriotism and for looking after their
employees. Too many Reservists, however, do not have this kind of
support and that is precisely the reason we have introduced this
important piece of legislation.
The sacrifices of our Reservists and the burden they bear to protect our
freedoms are significant. It is imperative that Congress realize the
vital role these soldiers play within our military and how the success
of our military depends on these troops. While we can never fully repay
the debt we owe to those that wear the uniform, I believe the Military
Reserve Mobilization Income Security Act is a small step towards showing
our gratitude. This is not too much to ask of our nation, and it is the
right thing to do.