Ruppersberger Seeks To Expand Visits For Soldiers

DUNDALK, Md. (WJZ) — More than 400 Maryland National Guardsmen and their families are learning a hard lesson: not all deployments are equal.

Alex DeMetrick reports that’s creating hardships for some.

When National Guardsmen are ordered overseas, saying goodbye is never easy.  Fortunately, a one-year deployment does allow for a brief home leave.  Those short reunions are happy and airfare is free for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not for 440 Maryland Guardsmen sent to Egypt.  They can only come home on their own dime.

“And he has to pay his own airfare.  That’s a tremendous hardship on these soldiers and their families,” said Bill Weber, father of a Guardsman.

And it’s not just about the money for family members.

“It takes over 20 hours to come home and their leave starts when they sign out from there.  If they leave from Iraq, their leave starts when they touch American soil,” said Cindy Ricklin, wife of a Guardsman.

It all started in 1978 with the Camp David Peace Treaty, with the U.S. committing soldiers to a multi-national force to patrol the border between Egypt and Israel.  That distinction means no home leave for some.  Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is introducing an amendment to change that.

“A lot of men and women in the military in Egypt can not afford to come home for that one week of R&R and we need to do that,” Ruppersberger said.

A request to talk with Guard members was declined.  It’s a standard policy of the National Guard not to comment on political matters and this will come down to politics.

“Right now in Washington, anything that has to do with spending is going to have a difficult time.  But this is not that expensive.  We’re talking about airline tickets,” Ruppersberger said.

The Egyptian deployment rotates among National Guard units in a number of states and lasts one year.

More from Alex DeMetrick
  • ed

    Com;on Dutch, this is a publicity stunt for votes. The guys & gals are all volunteers & know this up front. They don’t complain when they’re getting all the freebies from the taxpayers.

    • Devin Rashad Andrews


  • Sonya

    Dutch , Thank you for trying to help our soldiers that join the guard to protect america . My son is over there right now guarding gates & its not a good place to be right now . They are soldiers protecting you , me & our familys please don’t call them volunteer they are ARMY . I’m a taxpayer I would give my money to a soldier faster then some of the other things we are paying for . I will never forget 911 , Ed who are you to make a comment about our soldiers ??? it sound like your complaining . What freebies are you talking about my son just had a new baby that he can’t see grow because he protecting you ed . A Soldier Mother .

  • ed

    Sonya, STFU & listen for a change. This is about the troops in a no combat zone in Egypt doing a peace keeping tour. Why? who the hell knows but the U.S. has to stick it’s G.D. nose into everything. He is a VOLUNTEER. Nobody made him join the army. He gets a quarters allowance for his wife & child, his choice to marry, He will get credit for college if he wants later, housing, all medical expenses for him & family which is a huge expense. He took this on knowing or he should have knowing bullets might whiz past him. I served with the 101 Airborne div (Paratroopers) & believe me that was no picnic.

  • alicia

    ed i dont know where you get off talkin about are american soldiers like that juss because there in egypt doesnt mean they shuldnt be albe to come home to there families ndd im a wife of a army man ndd im gonna tell you right now there is nothing free in the militay…and if u ever served u shud be ashamed of your self for talkin about the men who are serving to protect you…..yea they choose to serve but if they didnt where would this world be where would you be ur a fool if you think there volunteers so instead of tellin other people to STFU i think you need to STFU ndd stop tryna make it harder for our troops.

  • Rob

    Ed, I can understand what you’re saying, but it’s really not called for. You say you served once so you understand. I don’t know if they had the R&R program for you when you were in, but it makes a big difference. The only thing that this congressman is doing is trying to equalize all of this out. An admin guy in Afghan or Iraq doesn’t get charged leave and doesn’t have to pay for their ticket. The same thing goes for our boys getting shot at. It’s a morale booster. Suicide rates have gone down because of this. Suicides aren’t limited to the guys getting shot at either. There’s no trend to what their job was. This is inexpensive comparatively speaking so I don’t see why they can’t be treated like everyone else.

  • Brian

    WOW Ed Really? I’m one of those soldiers serving in Egypt. Not all the soldiers here are fortunate enough to be able to pay $1,500 – $2,500 for a flight home. We are missing birthdays, holiday’s and anniversaries. Being able to go home on R&R is good for the Soldier and his/her family. Have a little sympathy for your fellow American/Soldier.

  • tylerjake

    Ed sounds like a real d-bag!!

  • Sonya

    Ed , I think your a big fat pig sitting on you big a– that what I think .

  • Sonya

    I leave alicia alone & our soldies

  • Sonya

    Thank you soldier for all that you do for america keep up the good work all of you . Love A Soldiers Mom

  • hmmm

    The one problem I have with this are that the MD Guard also has service members deployed in other non-combat zones and they are being left out by this bill. They will have to put up their own money to get home for their R&R. so who is going to pay for them? Sounds like a certain person in the unit is trying to, yet again, abuse his brother’s power and get what he wants.

  • michael ricklin

    First of all, this is going to far….if ti was not for the strongest military in the world, many would not have the freedoms that they enjoy….speech, press, etc…hitting a nerve yet…..i have deployed to iraq myself, and am on another tour….away from my family… my opinion DEPLOYED MEANS matter where you are. We know what true sacrifice is…..other than then the people in our state perfectly capable of working, but choose to take advantage of my taxes and yours…that come out every two weeks…so, i feel i deserve all of the freebies that i receive….i think i have earned it……..

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