Always Ready, Always There Reflects Guard’s Ability to Change with Times

An organization that is actually older than the country it serves could not have survived for nearly 380 years without being able to change with the times.

The Army National Guard, which will celebrate this milestone birthday on Dec. 13, continues to live up to its motto of “Always Ready, Always There” by adding new areas of focus and new career opportunities that reflect national trends. We at On Your Guard thought we’d take a look back at new initiatives and changes that got under way over the course of the past year.

Because cybersecurity is a top concern for anyone who uses technology, the Guard began focusing on standing up 10 Cyber Protection Teams in an effort to help the Nation better defend against cyber attacks. When we spoke with LTC Matt Chytka last fall, he anticipated Guard careers in technology and intelligence would continue to grow, just as they have in the private sector. 

National Guard Soldiers.LTC Chytka said the Guard was uniquely qualified to improve the country’s “cyber posture,” due to the fact that service is part-time, which allows a Citizen-Soldier® to attend school or work full- time in a private sector career.

“We have a very strong ability versus our active duty brethren to attract, and, particularly, to retain, highly skilled cyber military professionals that the Nation requires in order to maintain a keen cyber edge and superiority in the cyberspace realm,” he said.

While the Guard expands its career opportunities in STEM, it is also opening up more jobs to women.

The Guard, along with every other branch of the U.S. military, started seeing new faces in different roles last year as the Department of Defense (DoD) loosened restrictions regarding women serving in combat roles. Ultimately, the DoD announced in late 2015 that all military combat jobs, without exception, would be open to women who met the qualifications, like 2LT Tracci Dorgan-Bandy, who became the first female artillery officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard.

For her, a combat-oriented job was just one more area where she could prove herself and excel. Her previous Guard military occupational specialties (MOSs) included 25P Microwave Systems Operator/Maintainer and photojournalist.

“The Guard has opened so many doors for me, so many opportunities. I’ve never had anybody shut a door in my face in the Guard,” she said.

With more than 150 career fields to choose from, many of the Citizen-Soldiers we’ve interviewed say they appreciate the chance to move into career fields that might be completely different than their previous MOS, like SFC William Bart, who went into marketing and recruiting for the Alaska Guard after serving for years as 31B Military Police, which is one of the most searched for careers on our job board.

“You set your own destiny as far as your career goes,” SFC Bart said.

Of course, the best place to start thinking about your career destiny is to take a look at our job board, where you can search by keyword or location. You can also search by category, broadly defined as Administrative, Armor and Field Artillery, Aviation, Engineer, Infantry, Logistics Support, Mechanic and Maintenance, Medical, Military Police, Signal and Military Intelligence, and Transportation.

And for one-on-one advice, or answers to any questions you might have, contact a recruiter.

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Guard Spotlight: Louisiana

Louisiana Guard Rescues More Than 11,000 People

A little over a week ago, the southern part of Louisiana started receiving unprecedented amounts of rain, causing 20 parishes (counties) to be declared federal disaster areas. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards called the resulting floods “historic” and vowed that he would “make sure the resources we need are on the ground as soon as possible.” One of those resources is the Louisiana Army National Guard.

Since operations began Aug. 12, the Louisiana Army National Guard has rescued nearly 11,085 people and 1,400 pets from heavy flash flooding that hit the southern part of the Bayou State after two feet of rain fell over a 48- to 72-hour period.

By last week, nearly 3,650 Guard personnel were mobilized, and nearly 257 high-water vehicles, 55 boats, and nine helicopters were tasked or staged to assist local, parish and State emergency officials with heavy flash flooding.

The Louisiana Guard’s Facebook page started filling up with requests for rescues from various neighborhoods and requests for water from people stranded on Interstate 12 as the flood waters raged.

Whether by boat, helicopter, high-water vehicle, or on foot, the Guard did what it is trained to do, which is to protect and serve the community by rescuing residents and bringing them life-sustaining supplies. As part of its mission, the Guard can be called upon by a governor or even the president to respond to emergency situations. This branch of the U.S. military, which dates back to 1636, could be considered the original homeland security force. Guard members serve close to home in 2,600 communities across the Nation, making them the first military force to reach the scene.

For a better look at how the Louisiana Guard is helping these flooded communities, see the video below.

Besides search and rescue missions, the Guard also issued more than 2,200 cots and 1,700 blankets for shelter support for residents who have been displaced from their homes.

“With the changing conditions, we are continuously adapting to the needs on the ground,” Army MG Glenn H. Curtis, Adjutant General of the Louisiana National Guard, said in an Aug. 18 news release. “We continue to work closely with our State partner agencies, making the most of opportunities to leverage resources and manpower to keep Louisiana citizens safe and maintain order.”

So if you are willing to accept the mission of helping your community stay safe during a crisis, contact a recruiter, and take a look at our job board, which describes the more than 150 career fields that are available to National Guard Soldiers.

(Story compiled from news reports from the Louisiana Army National Guard.)

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Soldier Finds Careers Take Flight When You Put in Time and Effort

Michael Parkins had always had an interest in aviation, but he considered a career as a pilot “kind of more of a dream, not something that was necessarily attainable.”

But Parkins found that once he put in the time and the effort, he could become a helicopter pilot no matter what roadblocks he encountered. Parkins, 27, is a Warrant Officer with the Wyoming Army National Guard, and as of February 2016, a freshly graduated Black Hawk pilot.

Before he could get his hands on flight instruments, WO1 Parkins was more of an expert in instruments of the musical variety – as in the trumpet and piano. The Cheyenne, Wyo. native joined the Guard six years ago as a 42R Army Band member while he was in college pursuing a music education degree. 

WO1 Parkins credits both his college and his Guard experience in giving him the confidence and perseverance to pursue both his part-time Guard career in aviation and his new full-time civilian career as a police officer.

“Between my experience in the Guard and in music education, having to stand up and teach, both of those have helped me a lot with my leadership experience and just my drive and determination in general.”

WO1 Parkins was initially turned down for a flight slot the first time he applied. Part of the problem was he was on a voluntary deployment overseas in Bahrain and had nowhere to take a Selection Instrument for Flight Training (SIFT) test, one of the requirements necessary for his application. Luckily, another slot opened up in Wyoming soon after, and he got it.

WO1 Parkins spent 15 months in flight school, followed by more training to improve his readiness levels in piloting the Black Hawk, considered to be the military’s most versatile helicopter because it can be used for a variety of missions, including air assaults, medical evacuations, and sling load operations to carry a heavy item like a howitzer or a Humvee beneath the aircraft. It can be used during all types of weather conditions and is equipped with night vision capability.

WO1 Michael Parkins in the cockpit of an Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter.

WO1 Michael Parkins in the cockpit of an Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter.

Earlier this month, WO1 Parkins was on medevac standby for a fire in the northwestern part of the State. While he did not perform an actual rescue, it was his first service mission as a helicopter pilot. Because Wyoming, like many western States has a drier climate, WO1 Parkins expects to be called upon during a wildfire again.

“A lot of Units just constantly train and sometimes never get to do their job, but that’s not the case for us,” says WO1 Parkins. “We frequently get chances to perform our job, which I think is pretty awesome. 

One of the Guard’s primary missions is to serve the community, especially in emergency situations like natural disasters.

“We don’t necessarily have to be deployed overseas to do our mission,” says WO1 Parkins. “We can get called up to move sandbags, to help do search and rescue missions, medevac standby, firefighting. There are all sorts of opportunities that we have to save lives not only overseas, but here stateside, on a regular basis.”

He also appreciates the flexibility of being able to serve in the Guard part-time to do a mission “that helps people out but still get to pick what I want to do as a full-time career that could be something completely different.”

So if your interests are as wide-ranging as WO1 Parkins’ are, the Guard is sure to have a career that suits you. There are more than 150 fields to choose from. Learn more about them on our job board or contact a recruiter today.


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