A National Guard member assigned to security duties on Capitol Hill died after what appears to be a personal medical emergency, defense officials announced Thursday.
In a statement, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Carver said no further details have been released on the death because officials are still working to notify the service member’s next of kin.
“The individual was not on duty at the time, and the incident is under investigation,” he said.
The Guardsman was one of about 5,000 service members still deployed to the security mission on Capitol Hill, which came in response to the Jan. 6 attack on Congress. Hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt lawmakers’ certification of the November election results. Five people died in the violence.
Among the deceased were Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a former New Jersey Air National Guardsman who was attempting to hold back the crowd, and Ashli Babbitt, a former airman who was shot by police attempting to storm onto the House floor along with other rioters.
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request from Capitol Police to extend the Guard’s deployment — already at more than two months — until May 23.
In the days leading up to President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, more than 20,000 Guardsmen were deployed around Washington, D.C. to provide security.
Thousands of Guard members have been living out of hotels around the city in recent weeks, constructing security barriers around the Capitol buildings and patrolling the area.
Lawmakers have expressed concerns about the Guard troops’ living conditions during the deployment, including after pictures were made public of troops sleeping in Capitol Hill hallways in the days before the inauguration and after hundreds were forced to use a nearby parking garage as a rest area in the days after the event.
A number of Republican lawmakers have also said the mission should not be continued, citing little information about the threats facing Congress months after the January events.
Earlier this week, a security review team lead by retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré recommended Congress create a permanent Guard unit to provide “rapid response” security capabilities in the event of future violence on Capitol Hill.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.