Iowa needs the National Guard

Iowans look out for one another when disaster strikes-it’s something my parents taught me and something I’ve tried to instill in my kids. Whether it was the historic floods in 1993, or the devastating tornado that hit Parkersburg in 2008, the scenes of turmoil were always followed by scenes displaying the kind of compassion and community that Iowa is famous for.

During those tough times, many organizations helped Iowans when they most needed it, but one stands out for their heroic efforts: the Iowa National Guard. Time and again they have reported for duty, helping friends and neighbors throughout our state, often helping communities that had suffered tremendous damage get back on their feet.

Despite their heroic work, the Iowa National Guard is facing the prospect of significant cuts. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined a plan that could cut hundreds of soldiers from the Iowa National Guard – the same soldiers that have gone to work clearing roads, laying sandbags, and restoring basic services to Iowans in times of need.

The Iowa National Guard has come to the aid of Iowans time and again – and now I’m committed to doing what I can to come to theirs.

That’s why I recently wrote Secretary Hagel to outline my objections to these cuts, and to explain to him the heroic efforts performed by our Guardsmen both abroad and right here in Iowa.

Recently, I asked Iowans all over our state to share their personal stories about the positive impact the Iowa National Guard has had on their lives and in their communities-the response was overwhelming.

From the mom who wrote about her son’s service in the Guard to the man who wrote how helpful the Guard has been during times of severe flooding recalling their sandbagging and cleanup efforts, one thing is clear-Iowa needs the Guard.

Well, now the Guard needs Iowa, and I’m going to make sure the Pentagon hears from us.

I’ll be sharing the responses I received with Secretary Hagel and other Pentagon officials because it’s important for these officials to hear directly from Iowans that have been positively impacted by the Iowa National Guard.

There is little doubt there is room for savings at the Pentagon. For years I’ve fought to reduce our deficit, and progress has been made in that area – our deficit fell nearly 40 percent just last year. I’ve found areas where I believe money can be responsibly cut, and I will continue to search for additional savings, but not on the backs of the Iowa National Guard–Iowans who continuously bravely and selflessly serve Iowa communities and the nation.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley serves Iowa’s 1st congressional district.