Seven Ohio state senators ask Bush to rethink length of Reserve deployment
ARLINGTON, Va. — Lawmakers from Ohio are asking President Bush and senior Army leaders to re-examine extended deployments of the state’s Reserve forces, claiming that the call-ups are hurting the state’s economy and warning of future problems with retention.
On Oct. 17, seven Democrats from Ohio Senate sent a letter to Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army’s Chief of Staff. A virtual duplicate was on its way to the White House on Thursday, according to Amanda Conn, spokeswoman for the Ohio Senate Minority Caucus.
Both letters are signed by Sens. Greg DiDonato, Mark Mallory, Teresa Fedor, C.J. Prentiss, Robert Hagan, Marc Dann and Kimberly Zurz, who number among Ohio’s 33 senators, each of whom represents about 330,000 people.
The Ohio lawmakers said they are especially concerned about what the letter called “an ongoing detrimental policy of keeping active reserve soldiers longer in deployment than their active full-time Army colleagues.”
“It is our understanding that many of our soldiers … were told that they were going to be activated for the missions in the Kuwaiti/Iraqi Theatre for only six months and no longer than 12 months,” the letter to Schoomaker said. “Then, why were some of the same soldiers at a mobilization site for 75 to 100 days, which will not count toward their deployment?”
The letter was accompanied by a press release that references a recent questionnaire of conducted by Stars and Stripes that found a third of U.S. troops questioned in Iraq said their morale was low and they are unlikely to stay in the armed forces.
The letter was sparked by a plea from a reservist in Iraq, who wrote to Fedor and asked for assistance, she said in a Thursday telephone interview.
The soldier, a lieutenant with an MP company, said he was having increasing trouble motivating his platoon, Fedor said.
“He wrote, ‘Please do not let them down and do nothing,’” Fedor said. “That is when I decided to make it a campaign … to make sure the reserves and National Guard are not taken advantage of.”
The State of Ohio has approximately 2,614 U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard members who have been called to active duty. Of those troops, 1,364 are Army National Guard members who are specifically assigned to the Buckeye State, the lawmakers said.