We have a draft happening in this country: since Sept. 11, more than 210,000 of the Nation's 330,000 Guard soldiers have been called up to active duty; in California more than 5,000 of our 12,000 Guard have been called up.
As of June 5th 2005, the National Guard & Reservists accounted for 45% of the total Army force in Iraq, up from 40% last year – NEVER in the history of all our wars have the Guard and Reservists been used to this extent.
The National Guard was intended to complement, not be a substitute for active duty forces.
Most Guard members enlisted expecting to help their neighbors in natural disasters - as floods & earthquakes - to work as our first responders here at home. Their duties as "weekend warriors" have morphed into full-time jobs.
National Guard troops lack the comprehensive training of combat troops. The Guard does not have the body armor, night vision goggles, & radios they need. They are given outdated equipment and hand-me-downs from regular forces.
Although they face the same hardships as regular troops, they do not have the same access to services & goods. For instance, they are denied access to TRICARE, the Pentagon health insurance (claiming it is too expensive!)
As of July 2004, 20% of National Guard members do not have healthcare
In 2004, President Bush cut $280 million from the requested training budget for National Guards.
In addition to death, dismemberment, injury, for many Guard members, deployment to Iraq means economic ruin. They have mortgage payments, car payments, credit card debt, all calculated on their civilian salaries. Most take a pay cut of up to 70%, & are called on sudden notice often for a year or more. The families they leave behind face huge hardships & losses.
When they meet their enlistment commitments, stop-loss orders prevent them from coming home: they are extended 18, 20, 22 months, instead of 6 months.
The National Guard & Reservists suffer a 35% higher casualty rate than regular troops
As of July 2005, two hundred and thirty-one Army National Guard soldiers have already died in Iraq, more than double the amount that died in the entire Vietnam War.
California has lost our firefighters, medical responders & our helicopters & rescue equipment.
As we keep seeing every day, in addition to depriving states of local first-responders, the move of National Guard units overseas is impairing the ability of states to deal with large disasters
CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end U.S. funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities. The name CODEPINK satirized the Bush Administration's color-coded, fear-mongering "security" alert system that has since been phased out. CODEPINK is a lively call for the people of the world to "wage peace." More...