Troops deserve transition pay

Our nation wouldn't think of sending National Guard troops to Afghanistan and Iraq without giving them a couple of months' training. Yet one year later, these troops are given just days to make the transition from hyper-alert warriors to husbands, wives and parents back home.

That's too much, too fast. Our Guard troops need paid time to train, as it were, to return to civilian life.

Rep. Darlene Hooley has been working on this issue along with Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

It seems like a no-brainer, given how much this country now depends on the National Guard.

Yet even in Oregon, which has a relatively good reintegration program, returning Guard troops get only a fraction of the attention they need and deserve.

And a lot of that goes right over their heads. Returning soldiers are too eager to get back to their families and put war behind them.

It takes weeks or months for them, or their families, to become worried if post-combat nightmares won't go away.

To question whether it's normal to fear driving because ordinary roadside trash reminds them of an IED.

To recognize that the euphoria of homecoming has worn off and that family members need help to readjust to one another.

And that's where the paid transition time would come in.

Hooley got the issue included in a Department of Defense bill that cleared the Senate on Tuesday. Now, it heads for the president's signature.

Her reintegration provision would set up advisory boards to recommend whether Guard members should get as much as 15 days' paid transition time.

The answer seems obvious: Of course they should. Ideally, they need more, but that's a start.

A little time to ease back into civilian life seems pretty darn cheap next to all we have asked these men and women to do.

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