Federal support of the National Guard’s COVID-19 missions will continue for two more months, at least, following a promise made by President Donald Trump via tweet last week.
The president said he would extend Title 32 orders through mid-August to help states in their response and recovery efforts.
Previously, Title 32 orders were set to expire on June 24. NGAUS, the majority of the nation’s governors and a bipartisan group of lawmakers lobbied to extend that deadline.
Their efforts resulted in the president’s extension, which was promised in the May 28 tweet.
“The men and women of the National Guard have been doing a great job fighting the CoronaVirus,” Trump said.
NGAUS applauded the move.
“Mr. President, thank you for giving the men and women of the National Guard the added time they need on the COVID-19 front lines to complete their missions,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president.
As of Tuesday morning, approximately 42,000 Guardsmen were supporting COVID-19 response efforts in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. Most are serving under Title 32 orders which provide federal pay and benefits but keep Guardsmen under the command and control of state leaders.
The June 24 deadline would have left many Guardsmen a day short of thresholds to earn retirement and education benefits. NGAUS was among the chorus of voices that called for the extension.
That chorus also included a letter signed by 42 governors and another signed by 125 members of Congress. In the days before Trump’s tweet, several top defense officials had also endorsed an extension.
Efforts to ensure transitional health care for Guardsmen serving on COVID-19 missions continue, with legislation proposed in Congress. NGAUS has asked defense leaders to provide such care, which is not currently required by law.
NGAUS is also supporting legislative efforts through the proposed Support Our National Guard Act (S. 3713 and H.R. 6967), which would provide six months of transitional TRICARE coverage for Guardsmen as they are demobilized from pandemic-related missions.