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Gov. Whitmer asks President Trump to extend use of Michigan National Guard

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during the adjutant general change of responsibility ceremony, Lansing, Mich., Jan. 1, 2019 (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Andrew Layton/released).

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has asked President Donald Trump to extend use of the Michigan National Guard to combat the spread of COVID-19 through July 31.

In the letter dated Wednesday, May 27, Michigan’s governor thanked the president for authorizing the use of the Michigan National Guard forces until June 24, but said there’s “much more work to respond to and recover from this crisis.”

“To sustain the economic reopening of the State of Michigan and to mitigate the risk associated with potential COVID-19 recurrence, we need to extend the current authorities through July,” Whitmer wrote in the emailed letter.

By Thursday afternoon, President Trump tweeted that he would “extend their Title 32 orders through mid-August” so the men and women of the National Guard “can continue to help states succeed in their response and recovery efforts.”

Trump previously authorized the use of the National Guard on March 27, granting Whitmer’s request to allocate up to 3,000 members of the Michigan Army and Air National Guard to perform humanitarian missions for up to 90 days. The president also authorized requests from governors in Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts.

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Members of the Michigan National Guard have helped run mobile testing facilities, distribute food and medical supplies, ensure the resiliency of supply lines, disinfect public spaces, and support public safety as needed.

National Guardsmen have assisted food banks in communities across the state. They’ve also helped setup temporary medical stations to support coronavirus patients.

“The Michigan National Guard has been instrumental in flattening the COVID-19 curve in Michigan …” Whitmer said in a prepared statement. “I’m requesting an extension to continue utilizing the Michigan National Guard so we can safely reopen our economy while putting the health and well-being of all Michiganders first.”

Under Title 32 of the U.S. Code, the president can give authority to fully utilize the Michigan National Guard with federal pay and benefits. The extension will also ensure Guard members receive federal retirement and education benefits made available under the GI Bill, according to Whitmer.

“The Michigan National Guard is a crucial part of our emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will remain vital to our ongoing recovery,” Whitmer said. “I want to ensure the brave men and women serving in the National Guard receive the benefits they’re entitled to and have earned.”

Whitmer’s full letter can be found on the state of Michigan website, here.

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© 2020 MLive.com