Senator calls for ‘just’ base access and accommodation for Guam veterans

Senator Kelly Marsh (Taitano) (PNC file photo)

Senator Kelly Marsh (Taitano) sent a second follow up letter today to Rear Admiral Menoni reminding him that the community of Guam is currently accommodating the military’s stated need of individualized lodging for the sailors and airmen in quarantine and that, “it is imperative that just accommodation of Veterans likewise be developed by implementing measures for base shopping access.”

Sen. Marsh (Taitano) is deeply disappointed that several weeks into the national and island states of emergency, Joint Region Marianas has yet to develop effective protocols to help ease issues of base shopping access for Veterans, especially those with medical conditions and/or disabilities and who are manåmko’. After weeks of untenably long access lines to enter the base or base stores, that sometimes required manåmko’ to wait for hours in the sun, just this morning, media reports indicated Veterans being turned away at the Navy commissary.

Senator Marsh (Taitano) lamented, “I would have expected that developing effective protocol to address the issues at hand to be something the military had the skills and desire to do immediately, yet here we are weeks later with compounded issues and not much, if any, real protocol to ease the situation of Veteran base shopping access. Our local Veterans suffer from a limited few days and hours of base access, long lines both in getting into the base and into the stores, and being turned away due to a lack of adequate information being provided about when and how they should line up for entry.”

Sen. Marsh (Taitano) added, “It seems that a pretty thorough set of protocols was developed to accommodate the sailors both on and off the base. Where is that same attention to detail and instantaneous, multi-layered implementation when it comes to our Veterans? Surely they still matter after their period of active duty is over.”

Sen. Marsh (Taitano)’s protocol suggestions within the letter are as follows:

  1. Provide full and adequate understandings of base shopping access for Veterans.
  2. Add more days of accessibility.
  3. As we have seen local stores do, provide an appropriate number of pop up canopies wherein a limited number of people per canopy can wait their turn under some shade instead of the unforgiving heat of the sun.
  4. Prior to and during the hours set aside for Veteran shopping, dedicate one lane per base access gate checkpoint for Veterans.
  5. Develop an organized approach to access to the base in order to reduce the possibility of everyone shopping on the same day or during the same hours. Our island’s high enlistment rate also means we have a high number of Veterans who have earned the right for just consideration. Example: After supertyphoon Pamela, people were able to purchase gas on certain days according to the first letter of their last name. Something like this could be replicated. An approach akin to this requires studying the list of Veterans to understand how to divide them in a reasonably equitable way by day and hour.
  6. Offer curbside or gateside delivery of pre-ordered items from a list.
  7. Have pop-up grocery store(s) offering a limited number of types of basic staples outside the base.

(press release)