Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has submitted a letter Wednesday to President Trump requesting the authority to continue using the Michigan National Guard to help in coronavirus response and recovery through the end of July.
Whitmer originally asked the National Guard to assist with the state’s coronavirus response on March 18. Trump approved her request on March 30.
The Michigan National Guard members have assisted the Federal Emergency Management Agency with taking inventory of equipment and supplies, distributed food and helped keep public spaces clean. They also helped with mobile screening facilities for COVID-19.
The Michigan National Guard is currently authorized for use through June 24.
Whitmer is requesting to extend the authority to use the Michigan National Guard under a Title 32 status, which allows her to fully utilize the Michigan National Guard.
“The Michigan National Guard has been instrumental in flattening the COVID-19 curve in Michigan by performing testing throughout the state, distributing Personal Protective Equipment, food, and medical supplies, providing warehousing support, disinfecting public spaces, and assisting the Department of Health and Human Services with testing,” Whitmer said in a statement. “I’m requesting an extension to continue utilizing the Michigan National Guard so we can safely reopen our economy while putting the health and well-being of all Michiganders first.”
Title 32 also allow Guard members to receive federal retirement and education benefits under the GI Bill. Guards will not be able to receive benefits if the order expires on June 24.
“The Michigan National Guard is a crucial part of our emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will remain vital to our ongoing recovery,” Whitmer said. “I want to ensure the brave men and women serving in the National Guard receive the benefits they’re entitled to and have earned.”
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]