SALEM, Ore. – Oregon’s governor is addressing allegations of mistreatment of Oregon National Guard service members during a recent deployment triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, several Oregon lawmakers called attention to reports they received from Oregon National Guard members regarding mismanagement, lack of organization, delay of benefits and pay, and failure to pay ORNG members what they are owed. They say these reports indicate a potentially disturbing pattern of mistreatment during this recent ORNG deployment.
The letter includes U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio, along with Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici.
“ORNG Members are fellow Oregonians who give their time and sacrifice to serve our communities in times of need. Many ORNG Members have full-time jobs, families, and other responsibilities that they willingly pause in order to serve their fellow Oregonians,” they wrote. The full letter can be found here.
They requested a detailed response from the state on how it will address the issues and called on leaders to immediately rectify the reported accounts.
On Friday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s office sent out the following statement:
Governor Brown is incredibly grateful for the service of Oregon National Guard members, who are volunteers spending time away from their homes, families, and livelihoods to serve their neighbors and communities. At the height of the Delta surge, Oregon National Guard members answered the call to serve in hospitals being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. The Governor is 100% committed to ensuring every single Guard member receives the benefits and compensation owed for their duty and service.
The Oregon Military Department is already in the process of responding to the concerns raised by the congressional delegation––a fact that members of the delegation were apprised of last week. It’s disappointing that they sent this letter when some were informed last week that these issues are already being addressed. My understanding is that about 25 out of 1,500 total Guard members are impacted, and that OMD is working to address those individual cases. In order to ensure impacted families have all the facts, a response from the Governor and OMD addressing this issue in more detail is available here. Both the Governor and the OMD will not rest until these 25 individuals have received the benefits to which they are entitled.