D.C.-Deployed Michigan National Guard: Food Issues

Complaints about contaminated and inadequate meals served to our Guardsmen surfaced this week, particularly due to complaints made by Michigan National Guard members.

An unidentified NCO from the Michigan Guard told a Michigan TV station reporter that several troops were made ill by “undercooked meat.”  “Yesterday, for instance, there were 74 different meals found with raw meat in them.  Just yesterday, (some) soldiers found metal shavings in their food.”  Undercooked meals became “even more dangerous by the delay of up to four hours before they were served (presume travel distance for caterers/ time spent in distribution).” Complaints were also made about the typical, inadequate breakfasts, consisting of “maybe a Danish and some sort of juice.”

Wrote a reporter for The Washington Times: “The meals sent scores of soldiers to sick call and prompted the Army to change the menu from hot food to packaged meals ready to eat (MRE’s).”  Skimpy breakfasts resulted in some soldiers actually “buying their own meals.” Told to refrain from eating the catered meals for the next couple of days, with MRE’s as the temporary replacement, one soldier reportedly told a D.C. station that ‘soldiers are now paying for all their meals for the next two days in order to get real food.”  Deployed, and on protective duty, yet feeling the need to pay for their own meals out-of-pocket!  Granted for only a couple of days, while catering adjustments were made, but unacceptable, nonetheless.

Televised reports in Michigan led the state’s governor to register concern directly with the Pentagon, while, this past Monday, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of the Army John E. Whitley, in which he said, in part: “I write to convey my disappointment and frustration regarding the inadequate food and meal procurement for the Soldiers and Airmen of the National Guard currently protecting the Capitol Building and the wider National Capital Region.”

Then, all fourteen members of Michigan’s House delegation wrote to the National Guard Bureau to describe the food situation experienced by their troops, requesting that either a different caterer be retained or “provide troops with per diem so they can purchase food elsewhere.” Said the Michigan National Guard HQ: “The firsthand accounts and pictures of undercooked food being served clearly shows that what is being given to Michigan’s service members is unacceptable.” A Guard HQ team immediately made an inspection tour of that current vendor.  No further information, as of this writing, as to whether it was a matter of correcting meal preparation conditions to Guard HQ satisfaction or whether a change in caterers was made.

And no reports have apparently surfaced regarding negative food conditions impacting the Guard units from other states.  As far as has been reported to date, only Michigan’s Guardsmen were impacted.  That seems a bit odd, unless the issues were exclusive to this one particular caterer, which one would hope was the case, and that corrections or a vendor change was made.   Currently, Michigan’s Guard contingent accounts for about 20% of the 5,200 Guard troops (Army & Air) still on duty supporting area law enforcement at the Capitol area.  Further troop drawdown is set to begin in mid-March, with more than 50% of remaining Guard members due to return home at that time, according to present plans.

Whether patrolling the nation’s Capital Region, deployed around the world, or serving at home in garrison, America’s military members, active-duty, guard, and reserve, always deserve the best conditions and services possible.  They proudly serve to defend our liberties, our security, and the way of life that makes our great country so exceptional.  As such, these great, dedicated, skilled men and women consistently deserve nothing less than our very best support and effort.


(Michigan Guard sergeant quotes via nypost.com, Lee Brown, 3-3-21; Substituted MRE’s/buying own meals/Peter’s letter/Michigan Guard HQ quotes via washingtontimes.com, Rowan Scarborough, 3-2-21; “In order to get real food” soldier quote via theepochtimes.com, The Daily News Foundation, 3-3-21; Michigan House delegation letter quote via armytimes.com, Kyle Rempfer, 3-3-21; Michigan D.C. troop strength stats via nypost.com, Lee Brown, 3-3-21).