Hawaii National Guard discuss possible changes as budget cuts loom

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Deployments are happening less as U.S. military forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

They’ve been fighting there for 12 years.

So,what kind of impact will we see with the Defense Department’s budget taking a $34 billion hit this year.

“We’ve been always worried about Pearl Harbor being BRAC’d. Now there’s a definite concern of whether the Army can stay here in numbers because of the budget constraints for readiness. It’s no longer you can travel to places to train. You really need to train in the base that you’re at, so those are a lot of the decisions being looked at right now in the Pentagon,” State Adjutant General Darryll Wong said.

Recently the governor put together a sequestration committee to solidify Hawaii’s role with the military in the Pacific.

“The financial foundation that enables us to have the training, to have the infrastructure, to have the equipment, to have the capacity, to carry out the missions that are expected of the National Guard are under attack,” Governor Neil Abercrombie said.

General Wong is remaining positive that Hawaii won’t be affected as much as other states, because of its significant role in the Pacific.

There’s also the issue of returning military members to civilian life from a combat lifestyle.

“When they’re at war, it’s a different lifestyle. So now, it’s a matter as they all come back and understand that they will be at home a lot more. There’s going to be some change in the amount of money they make, cause when they deploy they make a lot of money, when they come home not so much,” General Wong said.

He says the National Guard is helping soldiers find other ways to earn more income.

“It’s really a time right now to readjust our national guardsmen that we will be at home a lot more than we will be away and now to readjust the way they spend the money. We’re really looking at helping them find more meaningful jobs with the G.I. bill to make sure that our young guardsmen get good degrees that will carry and take care their families,” General Wong said.

Also speaking at the 35th annual event for the National Guard, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affair Eric Shinseki, “I thank you for your sacrifice, I congratulate you all for your long and proud legacy of defending this great nation. Always ready, always there.”

The Kauai native spoke about the achievements made in the past four years, including an increased budget and two million more veterans enrolled in VA.

Shinseki said there’s great value being placed in mental health for men and women in uniform, $7 billion next year.

The National Guard of the United States 

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