Seriously. And that’s only because we don’t train astronauts. Otherwise, valuable career skills are yours for the choosing. Pilots? Check. SCUBA divers? Yep. Everything in between? Just about. The training and experience you receive serving part-time in the Army National Guard is one of the most valuable things you will take with you into your civilian career. Check out what some of these Guard Members are doing:
For F.L. Blohm, police work isn’t just an occupation, it’s his life
While many police officers serve in the National Guard, some take that dual calling to service more personally than others.
Frederick L. Blohm Jr., 42, is one such person. He has devoted his life to police work and the military and is now a corporal with the Indiana State Police and a second lieutenant with 113th Engineering Battalion of the Army National Guard, where he is an ordnance officer in Gary, IN.
He works about 60 hours a week as a trooper, while enthusiastically performing his Guard service one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. He actively responds to calls from both services when off duty while fulfilling the demands of family life, with a wife, two sons and five stepchildren. Along the way, Blohm makes time for physical fitness and has volunteered for deployment abroad.
Self-effacing, Blohm credits his colleagues, as well as the support of the state of Indiana, its governor, the leadership of the Guard and his wife for being able to do all this. But to understand why he does it, it helps to go back to his roots.
Motivated by mean streets
Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, where trouble was never far away, and the police were sometimes slow to respond, Blohm decided he wanted a career in law enforcement. “I fight for the people who can’t fight for themselves. I defend the people who can’t defend themselves,” he says.
The oldest of five children in a blue-collar family where both parents worked, Blohm had to find a way to put himself through college, so he enlisted in the Army Reserve as a military police officer. “I figured that at 18 years old, that was the closest I was going to get to the real thing as a civilian police officer,” he says.
Blohm went to Fort McClellan in Alabama for boot camp and MP school. After 20 weeks, he came home, enrolled in college and worked part time. At age 21, he was hired by the Illinois Secretary of State Police, where he worked for more than 12 years. When his eight-year Army Reserve contract was up in 1995, U.S. military activity was in a lull, and his career in civilian law enforcement was taking off, so he ended his military commitment.
Then came 9/11. As time went on, service members were deploying multiple times and the casualties and fatalities mounted. In 2005, “I decided to re-enlist in the United States Navy Reserve as a master of arms, which is the Navy’s version of a military police officer.”
Simply put, Blohm says, “I re-enlisted because I wanted to do my part.” He was a 2nd class petty officer assigned to the 1169 Carrier Support Group at the Great Lakes Naval Base, north of Chicago, until 2008. He also spent two years working as a police officer for the Illinois Northwest Suburban Police Department. “I always liked working at a community level,” he says.
Meanwhile, he was accepted by the Indiana State Police and went to their academy for an intense, military-style, 26-week program, and was assigned to Northwest Indiana. “Being a trooper is the pinnacle of my career,” he says. He recently was promoted to corporal.
But Blohm also wanted to be an Army officer, an aspiration supported by the state police superintendent and the governor. So after enlisting in the Indiana National Guard, he was given leave to go to Officer Candidate School at Fort McClellan. At age 41, he attained the rank of 2nd lieutenant and became an ordnance officer. “I have maturity on my side,” he says. “And I’m going to stay in the National Guard until they make me retire.”
Story and photo courtesy of GX magazine. GX magazine is an official publication of the Army National Guard.
In looking back at On Your Guard in 2012, there were quite a few stories that proved popular or that we feel especially indicative of the rewards of service. So, in the spirit of ‘everything old is new again,’ we will occasionally republish these stories throughout 2013 for the benefit of our new readers.
And so is the nurse, the dentist, the paramedic, and social worker. It may come as a surprise, but the Army National Guard fields a health care team that could rival that of any health system or private practice. That’s because it’s made up of the same dedicated professionals.
The Guard Medical Corps is built to be versatile in its operations so that its members can serve their community, state, and nation while maintaining their own civilian career. This reality is vitally important to the Army National Guard’s dual mission because a member of the medical team could be ensuring the health and vitality of fellow Soldiers on weekend duty; their neighbor during a community emergency; combat troops suffering from a range of injuries; even deployed to other states or overseas. However, when not actively honoring their part-time Guard commitment, they are able to pursue their civilian dreams.
And although many probably would, the Guard would never ask them to make such a commitment without a primo compensation package. So while the Guard gets a medical team that can operate with equal effectiveness everywhere from the field to fixed hospitals, team members enjoy some of the greatest benefits in the military:
Professional growth – Medical professionals in the National Guard are like real-life action heroes. Of course they hold a very important status in our society as healers, but they add to that the mystique of practicing military medicine, which is decidedly different from any other form of practice. The Guard medical team could be asked to simply provide preventive health care to Soldiers in your unit, or to learn entirely new processes and procedures in a tailgate medicine scenario during a local emergency deployment. In between, there is the opportunity to learn by serving alongside other brilliant and dedicated practitioners.
Work on a commission – Many of the professionals in the Guard Medical Corps serve as commissioned officers. And it’s not just the physicians and nurses as one might expect. Dentists (DMD, DDS), specialists like physician assistants and physical therapists, medical professional administrators, social workers (LISW, LCSW) and clinical psychologists, and others all accept an officer’s commission when joining the Guard. And what this provides depends on the stage of your career. If you’re just starting out, you’re going to develop some serious leadership cred. If you’re closer to the end, this will provide you the opportunity to impart your wisdom to the next generation of gifted practitioners.
Bonuses and loans – The debt accrued by many health care practitioners is significant. The Guard can help with that. Medical professionals in the Guard can receive special pay up to $75,000, the Guard’s healthcare student loan repayment programs can generate up to $240,000, and participants in stipend programs can earn additional payments of more than $2,000 a month.
All that and the world’s best barracks, because at the end of your weekend obligation, summer training, or your response to an emergency, you get to go home to your own bed. To learn more about the opportunities available in the Guard Medical Corps, check out NATIONALGUARD.com’s medical professional pages, then look for openings near you at the National Guard jobs page.