Hawaii Governor Energizes Conference

NGAUS Washington Report

(Sept. 23, 2013) Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie used his welcoming remarks Saturday at the 135th General Conference & Exhibition to make a rousing plea on the behalf of the National Guard he hopes will be heard in Washington, D.C.

Speaking from no notes or prepared text, the former Democratic congressman spoke forcefully as he implored attendees in Honolulu to make sure current federal lawmakers know the seriousness of the situation.

"The financial foundation that enables us to have the training, to have the infrastructure, to have the equipment to have the capacity to carry out the missions that are expected of the National Guard are under attack," he said. "We are underfunded. And we need to turn this situation around by making sure the Congress understands its obligation towards the Guard."

The Guard, he says, is "taken for granted" by a legislature that includes many new members who don't know how the Guard reached this point.

He said the pressure on NGAUS and its membership has never been greater to make the case for the Guard on Capitol Hill. To make its case, the Guard must reach out to American citizens and let them know that a strong Guard is in their best interest.

"The average American does not know it. The average taxpayer does not know it," he said. And many in Congress do not know it.

It is necessary to educate the citizenry, including Congress, about the role of the Guard and why it should be funded at a level that will allow it to remain an operational force, he said.

"I'm here to lobby you today," he said, to let Congress know that the Guard should be "first and foremost in their minds and in their hearts and where they put their dollars if they expect the Guard to carry out the missions we know the Guard is capable of carrying out and will do."