U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) on Wednesday sent a letter to President Trump asking him to not end coronavirus-related National Guard deployments on June 24, a day before members would become eligible for federal benefits.
In the letter, Peters wrote about how 991 members of the National Guard are assisting communities in Michigan. Prematurely ending their deployment — and the deployment of guardsmen and women around the nation — before a 90-day threshold for benefits would be harmful, Peters wrote.
He also noted that thousands of members are working full-time to decontaminate nursing homes, set up field hospitals, conduct COVID-19 testing, distribute food and more during the pandemic. There’s no indication the need for this work will be resolved by June 24, Peters wrote.
A “hard stop” on mobilizations on that date would leave members with 89 days of duty credit – one day short of becoming eligible for education and retirement benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which was enacted in 2008. Michigan will lose federal funding for guardsmen and women and would need to pay them using state funds if the June 24 date is kept, Peters wrote.
“Those service members who would be cheated by this policy are serving their communities, their states, and their country,” Peters wrote. “Their mobilization to support COVID-19 response efforts have already disrupted their lives and risked exposing them to the virus. Purposefully withholding benefits they have earned would be an insult and harm morale, recruiting, and retention within the National Guard.”