Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter sent a letter of congratulations to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney Thursday that also urges him to get Utah's Guard and Reserve troops home quickly.
"We in Utah are most impressed with the way in which the U.S. defense establishment in coordination with coalition forces have prosecuted the war to liberate Kuwait," the governor's letter begins. "Public support for the mobilization and deployment of active Guard and Reserve forces has received strong support in Utah."But the governor goes on to reiterate his earlier concern that Utah has given a disproportionate share and that the troops are needed at home in their civilian occupations. "Every major medical unit, both Guard and Reserve, stationed in Utah has been activated and deployed," he wrote. "This, of course, has required major adjustments in Utah's health-care community and in many cases has worked a real hardship on those who have come to depend on those called up for their medical care."
Approximately 423 members of the Utah Army National Guard's 144th Evacuation Hospital left the state Nov. 14 and are now stationed near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Army Reserve's 328th General Hospital and approximately 650 doctors, nurses and other personnel left the state Dec. 3 and are working at military medical installations in Germany.
Other Utah medical personnel from the Army Reserve, Air Guard and Naval Reserve have been called to active duty as well "and have contributed to our significant medical shortfalls in the state," Bangerter wrote.
"Furthermore, a significant percentage of our law enforcement personnel and others employed in the field of public safety have been activated. This has proven to be a real challenge to some of our small communities, which have been particularly hard hit.
"I realize that every state in America wants its soldiers to return home at the earliest possible date. But inasmuch as these particular call-ups have placed a disproportionate hardship on our civilian population in general, I would ask that you give top priority to the return of these units. Your assistance in this matter would be deeply appreciated by the citizens of Utah."