At least one member of the Michigan National Guard was hospitalized with food poisoning from “substandard” items served to the men protecting the United States Capitol earlier this year, and others complained of tainted food, with some saying they found metal shavings and feathers in their provided meals.
A number of state National Guards were deployed to Washington, D.C., ahead of Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration in January and following a violent riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th that left at least five people dead and dozens injured. The original deployment included around 20,000 troops.
While a number of units have since been allowed to return to their home states, some units are still in D.C. and could remain there until the end of March — and, if some lawmakers get their way, until at least May.
But while the nation is spending millions to keep the Guard housed and fed while they protect the nation’s capital, National Guard members who have returned from duty say the military stationed in and around the Capitol is being mistreated. The Michigan National Guard, specifically, lodged a complaint with Congress this week, alleging a major issue with meals served to National Guard members.
“In their final days protecting the U.S. Capitol from a potential reprise of domestic terrorism, members of the Michigan National Guard reported metal shavings, feathers, and undercooked meat found in substandard meals, a potential readiness risk that has hospitalized troops,” local Michigan media reported. “Michigan members of the House of Representatives wrote a letter Tuesday to Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard, expressing their displeasure with the findings.”
“It is completely unacceptable that our men and women serving in Washington D.C are being hospitalized due to the food they are being provided,” the letter said. “We request that either the current contract be voided and a new food provider be brought in or that the service members be provided with a per diem throughout their remaining time in Washington, D.C.”
An investigation turned up at least 59 victims of poor food, according to a private briefing given to Congress. Others were served substandard fare or given just snacks.
“It is simply unacceptable that these men and women are being fed chicken with the feathers still attached, and raw ground beef,” Peters wrote to Hokanson. “After several attempts to rectify the situation and little progress, I believe that the only appropriate course of action is for the immediate cancellation of the existing food contract, the disbursement of per diem for the remaining duration of the mission and to provide retroactive per diem.”
The problem seems to originate with a contractor, but Michigan legislators say the blame lies with Congress, particularly given that around 20% of the troops deployed to protect the Capitol came from that state.
This is not the first concerning report about how National Guard troops were treated during their stay in Washington, D.C. Politico reported that “thousands” of Guardsmen were forced to sleep on the floor of the Capitol building and, in one case, in a parking garage with no heat and a single bathroom.