COLUMBUS — Ohio National Guard members could receive a $1,000 bonus if an act introduced by two Ohio Democratic lawmakers passes the General Assembly and is signed by the governor.

Reps. Richard Brown, D-Canal Winchester, and Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland, want to spend at least $2.7 million of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act money to give bonuses to any guard and state defense force member who served in any full-time role after Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency March 9, 2020.

“We all owe a debt of gratitude to these citizen soldiers for their numerous, extended deployments, putting their everyday lives on hold to keep our society moving over the last year and a half,” Sweeney said in a statement. “As the pandemic rages on and they must be called upon once again to serve at a moment’s notice, this bonus is the least we can do to recognize the dignity of their work.”

More than 2,700 service members were part of pandemic relief efforts throughout the state. The legislation also includes members who served at home and abroad.

“Ohio’s men and women in uniform stepped up in places like nursing homes and prisons at moments when the virus was ravaging the civilian workforce. They placed themselves in harm’s way to ensure that these facilities continued to operate,” Brown said. “As we continue to debate how to best utilize federal ARPA dollars, it is imperative that we include both those citizen-soldiers who met critical needs in our society and the many reservists called up to fulfill the Guard’s continuing missions at home and abroad.”

The guard and Ohio State Defense Force moved to a smaller, more flexible response force from the emergency COVID-19 response, Maj. Gen. John Harris Jr. announced in late July.

Nearly 70 COVID-19 missions included support to food banks, vaccine assistance, processing unemployment claims, working with the department of corrections and providing temporary medical staffing to more than 30 long-term care facilities.

By J.D. Davidson

The Center Square