OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Do you remember the tens of thousands of National Guardsmen who were sent to the nation’s capital leading up to the inauguration? Remember how there were more troops in Washington, D.C. than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined? Well, this should give you a pretty good idea of the current situation of those more than 20,000 soldiers.
According to Politico, they were essentially banished to packed parking garages once the inauguration had concluded.
“Thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to vacate congressional grounds on Thursday and are now taking their rest breaks outside and in nearby parking garages, after two weeks of sleepless nights protecting the nation’s capital.”
One Guardsman gave some devastating specifics.
“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed.”
Apparently, the soldier’s Battalion had been utilizing the Dirksen Senate Office building as a resting area and were “abruptly told to vacate the facility” the day after the inauguration. The unit was then relegated to a nearby parking garage with no internet, no cell reception, one electrical outlet, and one two-stall bathroom, all intended to service 5,000 soldiers.
The Politico article explains,
“The troops are particularly concerned about being packed in tight quarters with limited bathroom access during a pandemic. At least 100 Guardsmen have tested positive for Covid, according to two Guardsmen. Some are quarantining in hotels.”
It seems hard to believe that the administration of the man who is supposedly the most popular president in the history of the country would treat the troops this way just hours after being inaugurated. But there are pictures to prove the abhorrent treatment.
MILITARY SOURCE IN DC:
“For the last week my battalion has been sleeping on the floor in the Senate cafeteria. Today the Senate kicked us out & moved us to a cold parking garage.
1 power outlet.
This is how Joe Biden’s America treats solders.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) January 22, 2021
Our troops deserve the utmost honor & respect for securing the Capitol & defending democracy this week.
This is unconscionable & unsafe. Whoever’s decision this was to house our National Guardsmen & women in underground parking lots must be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/mBwpoog6YC
— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) January 22, 2021
Hundreds of Guard soldiers relegated to the Senate garage, breathing in exhaust fumes and covid. Story coming in a bit pic.twitter.com/8OW4frePOh
— Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) January 22, 2021
And if you want to use the bathroom, well pic.twitter.com/YXLawaqA0Q
— Alex Horton (@AlexHortonTX) January 22, 2021
Representative Madison Cawthorn posted video evidence taken while delivering pizzas to the troops.
I just visited the solders who have been abandoned & insulted by our leaders. I brought them pizza and told them that they can sleep in my office.
No soldier will ever, ever sleep on a garage floor in the US Capitol while I work in Congress
Our Troops deserve better. pic.twitter.com/4attFqhRRJ
— Madison Cawthorn (@CawthornforNC) January 22, 2021
In fact, the abhorrent treatment of the service members in the nation’s capital appears to be a bipartisan issue, as lawmakers from both sides have spoken out against the terrible treatment of the troops.
If the guardsmen need space, we all have empty office space right now. I’ll offer mine up in a heartbeat. I’m talking to colleagues now to identify more space.
— Martin Heinrich (@MartinHeinrich) January 22, 2021
This is absolutely unacceptable and despicable treatment of our brave and dedicated National Guard who answered the call to serve.
We need to demand answers now and this needs to be fixed immediately. https://t.co/FyNUpFYJyX
— Elise Stefanik (@EliseStefanik) January 22, 2021
If this is true, it’s outrageous.
I will get to the bottom of this.https://t.co/CNBp055A91
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 22, 2021
Unreal. I can’t believe that the same brave servicemembers we’ve been asking to protect our Capitol and our Constitution these last two weeks would be unceremoniously ordered to vacate the building. I am demanding answers ASAP. They can use my office. https://t.co/GlSSx9nqXo
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) January 22, 2021
According to Senator Duckworth, she has made calls and “been informed Capitol Police have apologized to the Guardsmen and they will be allowed back into the complex tonight.” Additionally, a recent update by her stated that the last Guardsman will clear the parking garage before midnight.