Nearly 22,000 National Guard personnel are in the National Capital Region today ahead of the 59th presidential inauguration, and the Salvation Army has been on the ground serving food and providing emotional care to the troops defending the Capitol after the violent protests of Jan. 6.
Kenneth Hodder, The Salvation Army’s National Commander, is among the volunteers on the ground in Washington.
"In times of disaster, we serve the whole person," Hodder said. "Physically, emotionally and spiritually. This service can be in the form of a conversation, a prayer or sharing kind words of love and hope."
He explained that the Salvation Army has activated two mobile feeding units to provide resources to the many troops throughout the area.
The U.S. Department of Defense authorized up to 25,000 National Guard members to support Federal law enforcement in Washington, in addition to the use of roughly 2,750 active duty personnel in the wake of the violent protests on the Capitol over a week ago.
"It was a tragic and wholly unacceptable event," Hodder said referencing the insurrection on the Capitol.
Dan Hoffman, former CIA station chief who served in Moscow, Iraq and Pakistan, said, "I think that we’ve learned our lesson from the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol which was a horrific failure in so many respects."
According to Hoffman, there was enough information from social media networking sites to know that there was great potential for violence, but not enough National Guard troops or Capitol police to prevent these insurrectionist rioters from attacking the Capitol for the first time since the 1800s.
"What we learned was we need to have overwhelming force here in Washington and we’ve done it," he said. "It’s hard to make predictions, but I hope that everything goes off without a hitch tomorrow.
In support of the troops protecting the Capitol ahead of the inauguration, Hodder and the Salvation Army are on the ground trying to unite people and preach a message of peace.
"The Salvation Army is focused on bringing people together," Hodder said. "We know from our work in times of crisis that rebuilding communities takes time and partnership. We believe that peaceful partnership is the way to work with everyone, regardless of background or affiliation."
Hodder looks forward to serving and extending his thanks to the National Guard personnel and continuing to support them throughout inauguration day.
But for Hoffman, the question is once the inauguration is over, the troops have dispersed, the bridges are opened and barriers removed, then what?
"I’m not so sure the threat recedes," Hoffman said. "And we’re going to have to be vigilant and on the watch in spite of the fact that inauguration day has come and gone."