Submitted by Jon, OC, O’Connor, Commander, Bedford’s American Legion Post 221

21st Century Citizen Soldiers

Remember the Citizen Soldier?   Circa 1775, Minutemen, working their fields, stood at the ready to grab their weapons to muster with other colonists to earn their freedom.

Letter-to-the-EditorA couple of weeks ago an Article for this fall’s Special Town Meeting made its way to the Bedford Selectman’s Meeting. This Petitioner’s Article collected tremendous support from town residents with a volume of signatures above and beyond what is required to make it to the Town Meeting floor November 9th.

Today’s Citizen Soldiers are our Air & National Guard and Reservists. These men and women volunteer to join our Armed Forces; all 100% volunteers. Their ranks are made up of students, engineers, construction workers, doctors, and even Town Employees — yes, Town Employees who work in our Police & Fire Departments.

Current town and state laws reimburse, or make up their difference in pay, for our Citizen Soldiers for up to 17 days for training and weekend duty when called to serve. We are fortunate to have young men and women continue the long tradition of Bedford residents joining the Armed Forces. We have less than a handful of individuals who are both Town Employees and in the Reserve or National Guard.

Bedford provides the difference between a Town Employee’s salary and the individual’s base military pay for up to 17 days per Fiscal Year. However, there are no provisions allowing compensation if an individual is called up for Active Duty.  Active Duty status has become far more typical than for past Reserve or Guard components.  These assignments may run up to and over one year away from home.

Town Employees are covered to make up their difference in pay; they ARE NOT yet covered in case of long deployments. If they are deployed away from home for long periods of time to help secure our collective freedoms, then we should, at the very least, show appreciation of their commitments to serve. We also need to compensate these men and women by extending the agreement we already have with them to accommodate a long deployment.

Thankfully, four out five Selectmen voted to support this article. Bedford’s Finance Committee voted unanimously to support this Article.  Ultimately, it will be up to the residents on the Town Meeting floor to vote for this effort. If you appreciate what sacrifices these men and women endure to keep us free, you can show your support on November 9th.

As Commander of the American Legion, Post 221 in Bedford, I strongly support this article. I urge you to attend the Nov 9th Town Meeting to show your support and appreciation of our 21st Century Citizen Soldiers.

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