With over 850 Iowa National Guardsmen helping in the fight against COVID-19, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, is proposing a bill that directs the Pentagon to provide tax-free hazardous duty pay with back pay for these hardworking men and women on the front lines of this pandemic.
“Whether it’s delivering personal protective equipment, food, or medical supplies, our National Guardsmen and women have answered the call to help during COVID-19. As a former Iowa Army National Guardsmen, I could not be more proud of their tireless and selfless efforts. That’s why I believe Congress should take this small step to recognize the hazardous work they’re doing during this pandemic and provide them the pay they deserve,” said Senator Joni Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate.
“The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) thanks Sen. Ernst for introducing legislation supporting National Guard servicemembers on the frontlines with COVID-19,” said retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS President. “Through her years of service, Sen. Ernst knows what it means to serve in harm’s way and we are proud that she is leading the effort to classify the current contingency operation as hazardous duty. National Guard soldiers and airmen are on the frontlines with our brave doctors, nurses, and first responders and deserve this critical recognition and financial support as they risk exposure to this virus every day.”
“Our National Guard men and women have been called upon, once again, by the nation’s leadership to help combat the novel coronavirus pandemic in America. The risks are great; so are the hazards. By definition, Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay is a monetary incentive for volunteers who perform hazardous duty based upon the inherent dangers of that duty and the risks of physical injury. EANGUS agrees with Senator Joni Ernst that the duty our National Guard members are performing embodies that risk, and should receive Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay for COVID-19 response duty,” said Sergeant Major (retired) Frank Yoakum, Executive Director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States.
Currently, over 46,000 National Guard troops and 7,000 active duty troops are helping fight COVID-19. Ernst’s legislation directs the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide at least $150 in monthly tax-free hazardous duty pay with back pay for National Guardsmen, active duty servicemembers, and other military medical corps professionals responding to the military’s COVID-19 operations.
In addition, Ernst is sending a letter later today to President Trump asking that he grant Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds’s request to extend the authorization of the Iowa National Guard to serve in Title 32 status through June 30, 2020.