UPDATE: The Texas National Guard now says that there's no evidence that any of the 50 soldiers deployed to the Rio Grande Valley who might be in need of financial assistance because of a gap in receiving their first paycheck since being activated have actually gone to a food bank, as had been reported on Friday. http://www.stripes.com/1.300795
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas National Guard troops deployed to the border as part of Gov. Rick Perry’s emergency security plan have sought emergency assistance from food banks in the Rio Grande Valley, officials said Friday.
According to the National Guard, an unknown number of deployed soldiers have asked for help and were directed to local resources, including food banks.
KGBT, a Rio Grande Valley television station, reported Thursday that Food Bank RGV was told that 50 troops in the Valley don’t have money for food and gas because they haven’t been paid since deploying earlier this month and aren’t scheduled to receive a paycheck until September.
National Guard officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about troops’ pay schedule.
“Active duty soldiers being forced to turn to charities to get a meal is heartbreaking,” state Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, said in a statement. “These brave men and women have apparently been sent on a mission without accommodating for their most basic needs. We need to find immediate solutions for these hungry soldiers.”
Texas National Guard officials said that all deployed servicemembers are “furnished with lodging, meals (and) transportation” and “receive pay, allowance for housing, and per diem for meals on the normal state payroll.” The Guard added in a statement that two “previously unemployed service members” were among those requesting support.
Oliveira said the problem arose because the National Guard reimburses soldiers troops after they submit receipts for their meals.
“Soldiers have to pay upfront the cost of meals, rather than the Guard supplying them food or advancing them money to buy meals. It’s shocking, but essentially the Guard is directing these soldiers to temporarily finance their own deployment.”
Perry ordered 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the border earlier this month to help secure the Texas-Mexico border, which had seen an influx of unaccompanied children from Central America crossing illegally. The effort costs $12 million per month.