Last Friday, MPP blogger and AM950 radio host Two Putt Tommy used some air time to praise Congressman Kline’s efforts toward getting an overdue bonus paid to veterans of the Red Bulls’ “long deployment” in Iraq. He’s right.
Republican Rep. John Kline and Democratic Rep. Tim Walz don’t share much political common ground [link added], but they do share a military background. Kline spent 25 years in the Marines, retiring at the rank of colonel, and Walz spent 24 years in the National Guard, retiring with the rank of command sergeant major.
So, if you’re a member of the military and you’ve got a legitimate beef against higher-ups in the chain of command, Minnesota is a good place to be. Last week, both Kline and Walz took up the cause of 2,500 Minnesota soldiers, members of the famous 34th Infantry Division – a.k.a. the Red Bulls. These troops were deployed to Iraq in 2005, and when they returned 22 months later, they’d completed the longest deployment by any infantry unit since World War II.
Three years later, these soldiers are still waiting for the bonus pay they were promised, an average of $4,000 each.
Kline appeared to catch Defense Secretary Robert Gates off guard when he asked about the Red Bulls’ bonus pay during a budget meeting, and Walz called White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. Both Kline and Walz say they expect fast action, and now that this issue has “gone viral,” we’d be surprised if they were disappointed.
They better not be. About one-third of these troops are now unemployed, and many have families to support. A $4,000 check won’t put them on easy street, but it will certainly throw them a much-needed lifeline.
Indeed. It’s the right thing to do, and support for the troops and veterans rightly isn’t a partisan game. On the state level, Rep. Phil Sterner (DFL-Rosemount) joined Kline and Walz in calling for action in paying the bonuses.