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Hon. John Boozman, Ranking Republican Member, and a Representative in Congress from the State of Arkansas

Good afternoon Madame Chairwoman, Members of the Subcommittee and all of our witnesses and guests.

It’s great to be here in the Hoosier State.  I looked up the word “Hoosier” and found several possible origins in early state history ranging from answering a knock on the door with, “Who’s here?” to finding a severed ear following a barroom brawl and asking, “Who’s ear is this?”

Regardless of the origin of the term Hoosier, the citizens of Indiana have always been well-represented in the defense of America from the Indiana territorial militia formed in 1801 to the 196,000 Hoosiers who served in the Civil War to those now serving in the 76th Brigade Combat Team.

It is no secret that today’s National Guard and Reserves are now an operational force and no longer a strategic reserve.  That is one reason H.R. 5684, as amended, introduced by Ms. Herseth Sandlin and me contains a significant upgrade to education benefits for the Guard and Reserve.

While Guardsmen and Reservists share many of the challenges of military life with their active duty counterparts, they also face some unique difficulties and we should endeavor to minimize those negative incentives to service.  One such challenge is that members of the Guard and Reserves face multiple transitions in their deployment cycles.  It is not easy to leave a job that supports your family.  Health insurance, retirement benefits, seniority and other factors are important to all of us and when a service member returns home, we should do everything in our power to ease that transition.

Madame Chairwoman, you and I have visited several states where they have solid programs to smooth the transition from combat to civilian life and I am eager to hear how Indiana meets that responsibility.  I am especially pleased that you have invited several wives to testify because without their strong support, we would probably have to rethink how we structure our armed forces.  Finally, I want to thank each of those here who wear or have worn the uniform for their service and I believe we owe a special recognition to the spouses who pay the bills, raise the children, fix the appliances and the cars, and take care of the myriad things that keep a family intact while the servicemember is deployed.