National Guard using food bank in Rio Grande Valley because troops haven’t been paid

Gov. Rick Perry salutes National Guard troops at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 after talking to them about their upcoming mission along the Texas border. Perry visited some of the 1,000 troops he has ordered to the Texas-Mexico border but says he does not know how long they'll be deployed. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, William Luther) Photo: William Luther, Associated Press / San Antonio Express-NewsChron  – by Kolten Parker

SAN ANTONIO — The Texas National Guard contacted a Rio Grande Valley food bank Thursday to ask whether the charity had food and gas resources for about 50 soldiers who are in need of assistance because they have not received a paycheck.

It is unclear how many soldiers have utilized the Food Bank RGV in Hidalgo County so far because clients are not asked to detail their employment, said Omar Rodriguez, manager of communications and advocacy for the charity organization.  

Texas Army National Guard Brigadier General Patrick Hamilton told the San Antonio Express-News requesting services from local charities is an “anomaly” and outside the Guard’s protocol, and that no troops visited the food bank to his knowledge.

“We identified 50 soldiers who came on at the very end of the first pay period who would see a three week lag in income,” Hamilton said, adding that the support service officer who called the food bank was “trying to help” but did so outside a chain of command.

An internal program, which was not utilized by Guardsmen in the area, allows troops who identify a need for assistance to contract with local restaurants and payment to be deferred until their paycheck, Hamilton said. The Guard provides $36 per diem for food and a meal per day when on duty, he said.

Gov. Rick Perry used executive power to tap $38 million in emergency funds to pay for his deployment of 1,000 Guard troops in July after national attention focused on tens of thousands of Central American children and families entering the country illegally.

“Governor Perry is confident the Guard stands ready to assist any soldier who may need it, regardless of deployment or duty status so they can meet the needs of their family, or the mission they are performing,” said Rich Parsons, a spokesman for the governor.

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, who is running to replace Perry, called the lack of resources “disgraceful” and said she will personally deliver food to the Valley for the National Guardsmen on Saturday.

“Whether you agree that we need the National Guard or the additional deputy sheriffs that I have previously called for to secure the border, it is shameful that our troops would be sent to keep us safe without basic supplies like food,” Davis said.

State Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville said troops resorting to using a food bank is “disrespectful” and blamed poor planning.

“My complaint here is that troops in the field shouldn’t have to be relying on their credit cards to eat,” Oliveria said. “Even if it was a good faith mistake we should not be referring guardsmen to a food bank.”

Lt. Col. Joanne MacGregor, a spokesperson for the Guard, said two troops are being provided assistance by the Guard. Some troops see a window of up to a month between pay from their civilian job and Guard duties. Others were unemployed prior to being deployed, she said.

“For some reason (the troops) don’t have the funding in their pocket to buy food, and we obviously don’t want them to go hungry,” Terri Drefke, executive director for the Food Bank RGV told KGBT.

MacGregor, the Texas Guard spokeswoman, told the Express-News earlier this week that the troops do not have the authority to question or detain anyone.

“The soldiers will be armed for self-defense purposes while on duty,” she said. “… Their mission will be to provide aviation support, long-range observation and logistical support.”

Rio Grande Valley bureau reporter Aaron Nelsen contributed to this report.

Twitter: @KoltenParker

3 thoughts on “National Guard using food bank in Rio Grande Valley because troops haven’t been paid

  1. Wendy Davis is a cold manipulating politician. She dumped her own
    family for her personal agenda. She doesn’t help anybody unless it
    helps herself. I wonder who is holding up the paychecks.

  2. This is another example of jidiots and uncreative NCO’s and officers failing to get the job done. While commanding and fielding OPFOR units I( constantly had to scavenge for resources but I made the effort and used “outside the box” resources. There are TONS of MRE’s and rations/food of all type that could be pulled right now. Failure to do so from the PDO/GovLiquidation is an example of pin heads and politically correct suck ups being promoted over THINKING soldiers. Happens all the time now in AmeriKa. Failure is the systems middle name. Vote with your wallet and buy more ammo. Liberty1775

  3. Anybody who still believes that this is due to ‘poor planning’ etc.should take note. It was planned to be this way. To cause these men and women to be poor. All of these elites eat the best of foods. Many have their own chefs. They sleep in their plush beds at night. Obumer, and the rest of these who are supposed to be in charge of our nations security have not only opened every door for invasion of illegal aliens (including known criminals and Cartel members) across and into our borders, but have facilitated/funded it. These traitors know exactly what they are doing. Nothing new going on here. Good Ole Uncle Sam ‘Goldstein’ has been doing the same thing to our soldiers/ people in every conflict for a century! I say that all such military types who realize the writing on the wall should come home, and be ready to defend our nation, our families, our heritage against this tyrannical overthrow of truth, justice and ‘The American Way’.

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