NGAUS is urging defense leaders to provide full federal support and benefits for National Guardsmen responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who may become ill with the coronavirus as a result of their service.
In a letter to Under Secretary of Defense Matthew Donovan, retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson asks for a preemptive determination on Transitional TRICARE eligibility for Guardsmen placed on Title 32 orders to combat the coronavirus.
Robinson, the NGAUS president, said he believes those orders qualify for TAMP protections, which are provided to service members who serve in contingency operations, including times of war or during a national emergency.
President Trump declared such an emergency March 13. The health care coverage is even more important given the nature of the response to a health emergency with a risk that some responding will contract the illness.
“National Guard soldiers and airmen deserve full federal support and benefits as the primary uniformed military first responders to homeland emergencies, such as the current crisis,” Robinson said.
As of Tuesday, more than 30,000 Guardsmen were supporting the COVID-19 response. They accounted for approximately three-fourths of the total uniformed military response for the ongoing pandemic.
Transitional TRICARE would provide Guardsmen with transitional healthcare coverage as they demobilize, including time spent in quarantine, and would ensure continuous protections in the event they contract the illness.
“We greatly appreciate the continued support you have provided National Guard service members and their families,” Robinson said. “In these trying times, we must ensure that they are protected, both during and immediately following their deployment in response to this pandemic.”
NGAUS has previously advocated for the use of Title 32 orders, which provide federal dollars while keeping Guardsmen under the control of their governors. The association also lobbied the president to extend those orders beyond 30 days in order to provide Guardsmen with TRICARE coverage.