National Guard Goes Hungry on the Border?

At least that’s what was first reported at Harlingen’s, Action News 4 last night, and has now made national news.

“We were contacted that 50 troops that are in the Valley don’t have any money for food and gas and they need our assistance,” said Food Bank RGV Executive Director Terri Drefke.

They’ve turned to the Food Bank RGV for help since they won’t get paid until September 5th and have been in the Valley since August 11th.

Drefke told Action 4 News they are more than ready and willing to assist the military personnel.

“We have fresh, boxed, and frozen food available” Drefke said.

Let’s face it, Rick Perry and the Republicans put on a show for their right-wing followers with this call-up of the Guard, ratcheting up fear and hate on account of Central American children escaping violence in their home countries. Perry, though, finally did respond.

First, the suggestion that Guardsmen aren’t getting paid is false. They are getting paid on a regular schedule with their first pay day on Sept. 5, then every two weeks after that.

And here I thought a military exercise came with government-provided rations. Hell, at least some Texas IOU’s with Rick Perry’s mugshot, right?

And frankly,  one has to wonder what exactly the millions of dollars that Rick Perry and the Republicans are willing to waste is actually being spent on. That Perry’s attempted boondoggle didn’t include GOP-leaning taco joints to feed the men has left me thinking that he just can’t execute a military plan. That doesn’t look good for a Presidential candidate.

Leticia Van de Putte, the Democrat running for Lt. Gov., had the best response.

The Perry – Patrick deployment of the Guard has been nothing but a political ploy: there is no request from local leaders for this mission, no exit strategy, or even a plan to pay for it. Today, we learn that our men and women of the Guard have been forced to contact food banks to feed themselves because they haven’t been paid in weeks. This is unacceptable.

This whole debacle reminds me of when my family would go on full-day shopping excursions to Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. Mom and Dad would pack sandwiches, boiled eggs, tacos, sodas, thermoses of coffee–it was definitely a money-saver. One would think since Rick Perry and the Republicans say we should run government like parents run their family budgets that he would have packed some food for the troops.

UPDATE:  The National Guard Responds

According to spokeswoman Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a “proactive” family assistance coordinator “contacted the Rio Grande Valley food bank to see what resources were potentially available.”

The Guard said it had identified 50 service members who, because of their early August start date, weren’t going to be paid until Sept. 5.

None of those 50 troops have notified leaders that they had used the food bank, officials said.

According to the Guard, troops receive one meal while on duty, plus a $32 per diem food reimbursement that is included in their paychecks.

According to Omar Ramirez, Food Bank RGV’s manager of communications and advocacy, the food bank made extra preparations after being contacted by someone from the Texas National Guard Support Foundation, but that he wasn’t aware of any troops being served.

“Maybe they come in and they just don’t tell us they’re National Guard,” he said.

So, someone not affiliated with Rick Perry or the Guard was thinking ahead?

Whatever, the Guard shouldn’t be there in the first place!

 

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