Wyden, Schrader Seek Resolution in Support of Troops Stranded During the Holidays
Washington, D.C. - Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Kurt Schrader are seeking passage of a resolution encouraging the U.S. Military to help their own soldiers, including members of the National Guard, who are on leave but can't get home for the holidays.
"This resolution is only the start of an effort to end a U.S. Military policy that results in members of the armed services being abandoned away from home during the holidays," Wyden said. "If the military is going to rely more on more on the citizen soldiers of the National Guard then it needs to do more to get them -- and all service members who are on leave -- together with their families, especially during the holiday season."
"Our Oregon warriors and their families sacrifice so much for our communities and our nation," said Schrader. "They spend months and months abroad and often serve multiple tours. If it is practical to get mothers, fathers, sons and daughters home to their families for the holidays it just makes sense to make it happen."
The resolution is the result of members of the Oregon National Guard 162nd Engineering Battalion being stuck in Wisconsin over the holiday season. The soldiers are on leave, but many could not afford the trip back to Oregon. The situation was resolved thanks to the generosity of Oregonians who donated the funds necessary to bring the Guard members home for the holidays. The unit had been training at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin after leaving Oregon earlier this year. They were scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan before Christmas but those plans were changed and the unit will now not deploy until after Christmas.
The U.S. Military's policy is not to divert military aircraft to help service members travel to their home bases leaving the 162nd, and other units in similar positions, to either pay the high cost of holiday airfare out-of-pocket or spend their holiday on the base. The resolution introduced by Wyden and Schrader encourages the military to "maximize opportunities" to use military aircraft to get service members home over this holiday season.
The following is the complete text of the resolution:
Encouraging the Secretaries of the military departments to maximize opportunities for space-available travel for members of the Armed Forces in a leave or pass status who are traveling between December 18, 2009, and January 3, 2010.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that the Secretaries of the military departments, in conjunction with aircraft training and cargo missions, should maximize opportunities for space-available travel for members of the Armed Forces in a leave or pass status who are traveling between December 18, 2009, and January 3, 2010.