TESTIMONY – HB229 Defend the Guard

Starts at my testimony, rewind for entire bill hearing.

Thank you mister chair, and members of the committee. My name is Tom Mannion, I’m representing Hillsborough District 1, Pelham. I’m a Marine Corps infantry veteran that enlisted in 2004 to hunt down those responsible for 9/11. However, I didn’t even get the chance to do that. Like all service members, I went where I was told, even though I didn’t completely understand why. You’re going to hear counter arguments today, but take it from an enlisted grunt that has been knocked onto my ass into Iraqi dirt by a VBIED, there’s nothing that can convince me to continue sending our guardsmen into harm’s way without going through the correct process.

My first deployment to Iraq started in August of 2005. One of the guys in my platoon was from New Orleans and learned about Hurricane Katrina over a satellite phone call back home. He was raised by his grandmother, and she was alone during the catastrophe. We gave him our allotted sat phone time to make calls to neighbors and to make sure she got out safely. It wasn’t until years later I found out that the Louisiana National Guard was deployed to Iraq right around the same time we were. The Department of Defense sent active duty Marine Corps infantry battalions to help with Katrina, using warfighters to fulfill the mission objectives of search-and-rescue guardsmen. 

The motto of the National Guard is “Always Ready, Always There,” but the operations supporting unconstitutional wars prevents them from fulfilling this. Florida national guardsmen were training Ukrainian soldiers instead of helping with hurricane disaster relief, fires in Oregon were left to spread because their guard was in Afghanistan. Kentucky guardsmen were in Syria, protecting the interests of oil companies instead of aiding their neighbors back home when tornadoes devastated communities.

This committee was briefed by the Adjutant General just last week, where he said over 300 of our New Hampshire Guardsmen were deployed to the middle east right now. Imagine if we got smashed by a Nor’easter and needed those 300 soldiers here to assist our families and neighbors. They would not be there, instead they are off supporting an unconstitutional, undeclared war.

Another terrible consequence of these unending wars is the mental and emotional toll on our servicemembers. Again, as this committee was briefed last week, New Hampshire is one of the states with the highest suicide rate among veterans. This is a serious problem that we, in this legislature, can combat by passing HB229. Force Congress to do their Constitutional duty, to risk the ire of their constituents by voting for these nonsense wars that do nothing to protect us at home, before committing the lives of our guardsmen. These men and women signed up to defend us, the least we can do is vote OTP to show we are defending them.

I’m happy to answer your questions.

Representative Tom Mannion

Hillsborough 1 – Pelham

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