RI National Guard speaks out on treatment after photos cause outrage

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE):  Rhode Island National Guard members are back from the nation’s capital and speaking out after outrage erupted over shocking photos of troops taking their rest breaks on the floor of a nearby parking garage.

“From our state, we were treated really well,” said Capt. Jason Cooke with the Rhode Island National Guard. “We had lodging, had hotel rooms, and 3 meals a day.”

Cooke said while they had hotel rooms, they did sleep on floors, the night before and the night of the Inauguration. However, Cooke said they were inside the Department of Agriculture Building, which was the unit’s decision so troops could respond faster to any potential threats.

“Due to the threat being so high we made the decision to rest in place,” Cooke said.

Cooke said their sleeping arrangements weren’t anything like the pictures that took social media by storm.

“We had a room that was carpeted,” Cooke said. “We had access to food and water. But due to the threat being so high we made the decision to rest in place.”

Senator Whitehouse, Senator Reed, and Congressman Langevin all came out to visit the troops and thank them for their service.

“It meant a lot and kept us motivated to know we had the support of the state,” Cooke said.

Rhode Island was also selected to give refresher training to some of the troops already on the ground from other National Guard units, showing that a little state like Rhode Island could make a big impact throughout the country.

“Because of our skillset and our experience we were able to train 1,500 other National Guard members around the country,” Cooke said.

Senator Jack Reed sent ABC6 News this statement:

“The National Guard was called upon to defend the U.S. Capitol from the threat of further violent insurrection.  They did an admirable job amidst challenging conditions, and continue to do so.  Whoever ordered the relocation erred in judgment and it was rightfully corrected.”

Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t think a single senator found the photos of National Guard troops resting on the floor acceptable. President Biden also apologized to the soldiers.

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