DES MOINES, Iowa – The nation’s governors voiced sharp worries Saturday for the National Guard troops they share with the federal government, with concerns about recruitment targets, benefits and job prospects.
GOP Gov. Mike Huckabee, incoming chairman of the National Governors Association, said more attention must be paid to the needs of guardsmen returning from overseas deployments, especially younger Guard members who need to find work.
Democrats and Republicans said changes caused by the huge demands placed on the Guard and Reserves for the war in Iraq need more examination.
“Most governors would say we’re putting more strain on our Guard and Reserves than many people are fully comfortable with,” said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican.
The governors are scheduled to meet privately Monday with top officials of the Guard, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Homeland Security Department.
States often rely on their Air and Army Guard units to help in emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes or riots. The part-time soldiers are not often brought under federal control for missions such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“You haven’t seen these kinds of participation from the states since the Civil War,” Idaho’s GOP Gov. Dirk Kempthorne said.