SALEM, Ore. -- Gov. Kate Brown's office is responding after Oregon lawmakers shared a letter claiming members of the National Guard were mistreated during their activation to help with the state's COVID-19 response.
In the letter, lawmakers pushed for the state to respond to issues including alleged mismanagement and delay of benefits and pay. It describes a chaotic activation that left several members hanging for weeks and unable to return to their civilian jobs, with some paying for hotel accommodations out of pocket. For the full letter lawmakers sent to the state, CLICK HERE.
However, according to Press Secretary Liz Merah, the Oregon Military Department was already in the process of responding to these concerns when the letter was sent, and some of the congressional delegation reportedly were aware of this.
The statement also indicates that officials believe only 25 out of the 1,500 Guard members who were activated were affected by the issues laid out in the letter.
Merah sent 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."
Read Gov. Kate Brown and Major General Michael Stencel's full letter here, which was sent to U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici.