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Lawmaker: Citizen Soldiers Deserve Equal Benefits Treatment

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An Oregon representative is calling for equity in benefits for all soldiers serving in Iraq, whether they are regular military personnel or activated reservists.[@@]

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, spoke on the House floor earlier this week about hearing from a reservist in Fort Hood, Texas, who had had his bad front teeth yanked out in Oregon after his National Guard unit was called up. When the reservist got to Texas, the Army would not replace the reservist’s teeth because he was not yet on active military duty.

“So he was going to go home to Oregon on his leave before he left to try and get false teeth inserted so he would not spend a year in Iraq with a big gap in his front teeth,” DeFazio said, according to a written version of his speech that was printed in the Congressional Record.

“Equity in benefits along, with better benefits for Guard members, are required now that they are serving under such difficult conditions,” DeFazio said. “We are treating the National Guard [as being] indistinguishable from our active-duty forces, yet they still suffer in terms of equipment, and they definitely suffer in terms of equity of benefits during their service in the Guard.”

Offering all Guard members good health benefits during service will help induce Americans to join the National Guard and improve their readiness to defend the country, DeFazio said.


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