Dwell Time

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 19, 2007
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Women

DWELL TIME -- (Senate - September 19, 2007)

Mr. SMITH. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the Webb-Hagel dwell time amendment. Our service men and women are under constant strain, spending more time in theater than they have with their families. These men and women are risking their lives to protect this country, some on their fourth tour in Iraq. Their bodies are aching and their minds are stressed, but by the time they become acclimated to home life, they are sent back into combat. Something must be done to prevent the breakdown of our military and the men and women who serve. This amendment would provide our troops ample rest and recuperation, time to visit with family, and an opportunity to extract our troops from the stress of war.

The Oregon National Guard has served admirably since we began combat operations in 2001. I could not be more proud of their contributions to the war on terror while still serving as the foundation of their families and communities.

Many citizen-soldiers have been on multiple deployments for over a year at a time, placing a significant strain on their families, employers, and communities. The amendment will give our soldiers predictability by preventing surprise deployments. Providing a consistent schedule allows them to plan for this disruption. Often, these men and women are the core of the community, the major breadwinner of their family or a needed caregiver and require advanced notice to plan for such a major disruption in their lives.

If current enlistment levels do not allow us to provide our troops with the rest and recuperation needed to protect our Nation, then we must examine increasing the number of volunteer troops, both Active Duty and Reserve.

For the past 10 years, we have shrunk the National Guard and ignored their call for needed resources. As a country, we are finally realizing the importance of our citizen-soldiers. They serve admirably in combat operations overseas, they provide help at home in the face of a natural disaster or emergency, and they are the bedrock of our community. Giving them some stability in their lives is the least we can do.

I urge my fellow Senators to join me in supporting the Webb-Hagel dwell time amendment.