Bill seeks help of former National Guard members

BISMARCK—The North Dakota National Guard wants permission from state legislators to be able to call up former Guard members during state disasters or emergencies.

If it becomes law, Senate Bill 2071 would authorize the adjutant general to recall former Guard members on a volunteer basis in instances of a governor-declared emergency.

Those recalled would need to be qualified to help and would be compensated. The recall would only be effective for the duration of the disaster or emergency.

Adjutant General David Sprynczynatyk said state law now allows the Guard to bring back officers for special projects. The bill would expand this to include other past Guard members.

In 2009, a number of soldiers were deployed overseas while North Dakota dealt with flooding and winter storms and needed Guard help, Sprynczynatyk said.

“We view those people that have served in the Guard before as a valuable asset to us,” he said. “We’re asking for the authority to be able to allow them to come back into a state active duty status.”

Rep. Lisa Meier, R-Bismarck, asked if there would be any age limits on the request. Sprynczynatyk said there wouldn’t be, but former Guard members who volunteer would be assigned to missions that fit their expertise and ability.

Rep. Bill Amerman, D-Forman, asked for more information on how the recall would work. Sprynczynatyk said the Guard would first look to its own forces after the alert comes from the governor.

If more help was needed, the Guard would get the word out through e-mail lists, word of mouth and the media that it needed former members to volunteer, he said.

“I’m not concerned about our ability to solicit volunteers,” Sprynczynatyk said. “They’re out there, and they want to continue to help if they can in any way.”

The Senate has already unanimously passed the bill. The House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee gave the bill a do-pass recommendation on Thursday.