Is Gov. Sarah Palin Short-changing Alaska's National Guard?


10-09-08, 1:47 pm

Should Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin do less campaigning and more governing? Some veterans of the Alaska National Guard returning home from the war zone may think so.

According to a story this week from the Anchorage Daily News, the Palin administration appears to be neglecting returning National Guard members. After year-long deployments in Iraq and Kuwait, Alaska National Guard troops are facing major obstacles to veterans' health care, the paper reports.

About one-fourth of the state's National Guard lives in rural communities and are forced to travel long distances to veterans medical facilities to receive treatment. In addition, returning vets also face a weak job market, the lack of mental health screenings, and a dramatic rise in post-combat personal and family problems that have gone unaddressed.

The news report was based on a study of Alaska's returning National Guard troops conducted by Veterans for America (VFA). VFA investigators met with and interviewed returning guardsmen and their families in several Alaska cities and rural communities across the state.

To address these issues, VFA recommended that Gov. Sarah Palin make her own official study of these problems and use a portion of the state's large budget surplus to find solutions. VFA described the problems as so severe that it also recommended the Bush administration stop deploying the Alaska National Guard troops overseas until 'the situation is remedied.'

The Anchorage paper reporting the story also noted that the Alaska National Guard's commander did not cite any inaccuracies in the VFA report in its response.

This unfortunate story puts Palin's oft-repeated claims to 'love' US troops in a new light.