LETTER: Bring home our National Guard

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By The Staff

While campaigning for president, Barack Obama insisted he couldn’t make real change alone — he needed all of us to help him by making our wishes known. Newly introduced in the New Mexico legislature are Joint Memorials entitled “Withdraw New Mexico National Guard from Iraq” (SJM20 in the Senate and HJM18 in the House). It’s a perfect opportunity to make our wishes known to our legislators that we need our Guard to come home.

Any New Mexican with friends or family in the New Mexico National Guard knows that before, during, and after their tours of duty in Iraq, Guard members and veterans have been treated as second-class soldiers. Our National Guard members did not volunteer nor were they trained to fight wars in foreign hell-holes. They enlisted to help in case of need or emergency here at home, in nuclear New Mexico, a prime terrorist target.

Called up to Iraq, Guard members have faced loss of career, separation from family, and long, arbitrary, and repeated tours in terrible conditions. While supplied with inadequate equipment, armor, and training, they have been assigned to duty in vulnerable and dangerous roles. When they have returned from duty, many suffering from wounds, illnesses, or PTSD, they’ve been sent to the rear of the line for badly needed benefits parceled out stingily by the VA, which gives priority to the regular military. All this in service to an illegal, unnecessary war launched on the rationale of deliberate lies.

The conditions of the Congressional and U.N. authorizations that first rubber-stamped Bush’s disastrous Iraq war, giving authority to call up state militia, have expired. Without Congressional authorization it is illegal to send state National Guards to foreign wars. President Obama has promised to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. Our National Guards, last in line for training, benefits, armor, equipment and safety, should now be the first in line to come home.

The legislatures of 17 other states are now considering bills or memorials very much like the New Mexico Joint Memorial. Please ask your senators and representatives to support this important, ground-breaking legislation.

Marilyn Gayle Hoff

Arroyo Hondo