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Top Republican Criticizes Extended Tours for National Guard

At a news conference today, the third-ranking Republican in the House, Roy Blunt of Southwest Missouri criticized the extended toursof the National Guard in Iraq. As KSMU's Missy Shelton reports, Missouri soldiers are in for the long haul in the Middle East.

MissouriNational Guard Website

Toll free numbers for the Family Assistance Centers in Southwest Missouri:

  • Springfield 1-866-304-6044
  • Monett 1-866-698-8836
  • Joplin 1-866-536-6468

THERE ARE 13 HUNDRED GUARDSMEN AND WOMEN FROM MISSOURI IN IRAQ RIGHT NOW.

JAMIE MELCHERT IS THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER FOR THE MISSOURI NATIONAL GUARD.

HE SAYS THE FAMILIES OF THESE SOLDIERS RECENTLY LEARNED IT WILL BE QUITE SOME TIME BEFORE THEY SEE THEIR LOVED ONES AGAIN.

AS THE TOURS FOR THESE TROOPS EXTEND BEYOND SIX MONTHS, SOME FAMILIES OF SOLDIERS AND NOW ONE HIGH RANKING REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN ARE CRITICAL OF THE SITUATION.

MAJORITY WHIP ROY BLUNT SAYS IT WILL HURT THE GUARD IN THE LONGTERM.

WHILE BLUNT IS PREDICTING THE EXTENDED TOURS COULD HURT THE GUARD, JAMIE MELCHERT SAYS HE'S NOT SURE THAT WILL HAPPEN.

TO HELP ALLEVIATE THE NEED FOR EXTENDED TOURS, BLUNT IS CALLING FOR THE ADDITION OF 1 TO 2 DIVISIONS IN THE FULL-TIME FORCE'THAT COULD MEAN AS MANY AS 32 THOUSAND NEW TROOPS.

BLUNT SAYS HE ISN'T GETTING CALLS FROM CONSTITUENTS COMPLAINING ABOUT THE EXTENDED TOURS...BUT HE SAYS A BUILD-UP OF TROOPS IN FULL-TIME SERVICE IS OVERDUE.

BLUNT SAYS FUNDING THE NEW DIVISIONS WOULDN'T BE A PROBLEM SINCE CONGRESS ALREADY IS SPENDING MILLIONS ON THE EXTENDED TOURS FOR THE RESERVISTS.

BLUNT'S SON, MISSOURI SECRETARY OF STATE MATT BLUNT IS IN THE NAVAL RESERVE'HE SERVED SIX MONTHS SHORTLY AFTER THE ATTACKS ON 9-11 AND DOESN'T EXPECT TO BE CALLED UP AGAIN IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

BUT FOR THE FAMILIES OF THOSE WHO ARE CALLED UP, IT'S UNCLEAR WHEN THEY WILL SEE THEIR LOVED ONES AGAIN'MISSOURI NATIONAL GUARD SPOKESMAN JAMIE MELCHERT SAYS IT'S THE FAMILIES WHO WILL HELP DECIDE IF THE SOLDIERS STAY WITH THE NATIONAL GUARD AFTER THEIR ENLISTMENT CONTRACT ENDS.

TO HELP FAMILIES DEAL WITH THE DEPLOYMENT OF A LOVED ONE, THERE IS A FAMILY ASSISTANCE CENTER IN SPRINGFIELD'THE TOLL FREE NUMBER IS 1-866-304-6044.

THERE ARE ALSO FAMILY ASSISTANCE CENTERS IN MONETT AND JOPLIN'THAT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE, K-S-M-U DOT ORG.

I'M MISSY SHELTON FOR KSMU NEWS.