National Guard troops sue U.S. over pay


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rick_reno
January 12, 2006, 01:36 AM
Huh?

BOSTON - Four members of the Massachusetts National Guard filed a $73 million class-action lawsuit Wednesday against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other military officials in a dispute over on-the-job expenses since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The lawsuit, which also names Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, appears to be the first of its kind in the U.S. Army National Guard, which has faced heavy demands since Sept. 11, 2001, lawyers involved in the case said.

The four men from Massachusetts and New Hampshire filed the suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of soldiers in about 300 jobs in the Massachusetts National Guard owed money for meals, car fuel, lodging and daily allowances, their lawyers said.

“The National Guard refused to reimburse millions of dollars to soldiers called for active duty following the 2001 terror attacks,” John Shek, counsel for the plaintiffs, said at a news conference.

“We have found that the closer we look at this the worse the situation gets.”

Officials at the National Guard were not immediately available to comment.

System for expenses
Thousands of soldiers in the Guard, a part-time force whose 440,000 members live civilian lives while doing periodic military training, were mobilized after the Sept. 11 attacks to protect airports, borders and other possible targets. Tens of thousands also have been deployed to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the heart of the suit is the system of paying expenses to Guard troops who say they traveled hundreds of miles and paid for their own food, car fuel and lodging to perform their duties.

Shek said while National Guard soldiers across the country were paid under federal orders known as “Title 10” that included daily allowances, hundreds of troops in Massachusetts were given different orders known as “Title 32” that excluded daily allowances but required the same work.

Dual roles at issue
The controversy cuts to the core of the Guard’s dual federal and state roles. For state missions, the governor can call on the Guard during emergencies such as storms, fires, earthquakes or civil disturbances. The president also can call on them for federal missions.

Capt. Louis Tortorella, 51, estimated he was owed $14,600 a year for the two years he worked before he retired in October 2003. He said there were about 1,000 to 1,500 Guard soldiers who worked in Massachusetts owed similar expenses.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Tortorella was called up to protect the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies water to about 2.5 million people in metropolitan Boston and is about a five-hour drive each day from his home in New Hampshire.

In their complaint, the soldiers said their requests for compensation were repeatedly denied.

“It was always either shoved to the side or they turned their backs on us,” said Sgt. Wayne Gutierrez, 39, who estimates he was owed at least $17,500 a year for his 2-1/2 years in the Army National Guard in Massachusetts.

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Crosshair
January 12, 2006, 03:09 AM
I guess relying on the NG wasn't such a hot idea after all.:rolleyes: I had to travel to help with a store remodel last summer. I got paid mileage, motel, and meals. No questions asked as long as I could provide the receipt. (and as long as it was not for booze.) I also got overtime since they where short people so I worked 58 hour weeks. Good pay and good eating that summer.:) It is only fair that the NG do the same for its members.

Devonai
January 12, 2006, 07:29 AM
It's ironic that the Massachusetts State Guard repeatedly offered to put soldiers at the Quabbin Reservoir during this time... for free.

We had a squad of over 50% prior-service volunteers ready to go for a 24/7 operation at our own expense.

Heck, all the MSG has done for the past fifty years is jump up and down and shout, "we're here, use us!" After 2003, the adjutant general finally started listening.

1 old 0311
January 12, 2006, 09:17 AM
Listen up America! PLEASE don't crap on the people in uniform. There are tons of ways to save money but screwing our service people in not one.:(

Kevin

Janitor
January 12, 2006, 09:38 AM
I also got overtime since they where short people
Hey! You trying to say that short people don't do as much work?









:D

LS
January 12, 2006, 09:44 AM
Listen up America! PLEASE don't crap on the people in uniform. There are tons of ways to save money but screwing our service people in not one.:(
Kevin
Agree 100% :banghead:

Chipperman
January 12, 2006, 12:52 PM
I heard this story in NPR this morning.

Devonai--"It's ironic that the Massachusetts State Guard repeatedly offered to put soldiers at the Quabbin Reservoir during this time... for free."

In the story they said they were not provided any housing, and got no reimbursment for food or travel expenses.
Are you saying that they refused the housing that was offered to them?

Devonai
January 12, 2006, 04:08 PM
I meant MSG soldiers, but if we knew there was a housing problem I'm sure we would have offered to lodge NG soldiers.

Jeff White
January 12, 2006, 06:45 PM
The travel regulations are the same if a soldier is ordered to active duty under title 32 or title 10. Both types of duty are funded by the federal government.

If a soldier is assigned to a duty station outside of commuting disance from his home of record then he/she is entitled to travel and per deim.

It's quite possible that these soldiers chose not to use quarters as provided (might have been a cot in the armory) and commuted back and forth at their own expense. If that is the case, they wouldn't be entitled to re-imbursement because travel, quarters and rations were provided.

It's not uncommon for soldiers to go out on the economy at their own expense if they feel that what the governemnt provided wasn't adequate.

My gut feeling is that this was the case, and now they are trying to get reimbursed because they felt the government didn't provide them with a high enough standard of living.

The Joint Travel Regulations are very clear on what constitutes commuting distance and what is adequate quarters and rations, and the automated orders system automatically obligates travel funds when the orders are cut.

If for some reason they hadn't been provided with travel, quarters and rations when they should have been, then a quick call up the chain of command or to the IG would have fixed the issue.

Sorry guys but living in quarters that may not be what you are accustomed to at home is part of being in the military.

Jeff

Devonai
January 12, 2006, 06:54 PM
Sorry guys but living in quarters that may not be what you are accustomed to at home is part of being in the military.

I consider myself lucky to find three or four trees close enough together for a proper hooch.

NIB
January 13, 2006, 02:31 AM
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Tortorella was called up to protect the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies water to about 2.5 million people in metropolitan Boston and is about a five-hour drive each day from his home in New Hampshire.

Sounds more like Cpt. Tortorella should have done what any other Army Cpt would have done.....have a GP-medium set up at the resevoir and have his supply Sgt order a truck load of MREs. If they don't like GP-mediums and want to go home to their warm comfy bed 5 hours a way then thats on them and tuff luck.

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