DoD 'absolutely' considering hazard pay for Guard, Reserve troops for COVID-19 response

Jack Murphy
May 29, 2020 - 10:32 am
National Guard deployment

Photo by Master Sgt. Toby Valadie

The federal government's decision to cut short the deployments of National Guard and Reserve troops providing pandemic response was criticized for ending just in time to ensure that they would not qualify for certain benefits.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump reversed this decision and extended the deployments of over 40,000 National Guard troops. Now, the question is whether Guard and Reserve members will also receive hazard pay.

The Department of Defense said it is now strongly considering hazard pay for more than 56,000 National Guardsmen, Reservists, and Active Duty troops called up for pandemic response.

When Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley was asked about hazard pay at a recent virtual town hall,, he said, "All of that stuff is absolutely under consideration and we will recognize those appropriately in due course, but I would expect some guidance to come out here shortly."

The National Guard and Reserves have deployed across the United States, helping civil authorities by setting up field hospitals, assisting in crisis centers, testing people for the virus, cleaning and sterilizing, distributing food to children whose schools were closed, and more. Many of these service members have been exposed to the coronavirus. 

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa has pushed for Guard troops deployed to support the pandemic response to receive hazard pay as well. 

"I could not be more proud of their tireless and selfless efforts. That’s why I believe Congress should take this small step to recognize the hazardous work they’re doing during this pandemic and provide them the pay they deserve," she said in a statement.

Hazard pay is typically given to service members who perform particularly dangerous duties such parachuting, flying, working with toxic substances or handling explosives and is an extra $150 per month.

Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.

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