All Roads Lead to Career Success with Guard Service

Austin Vogt
SGT Austin Vogt at the 1-279, 45th brigade infantry combat team NCO induction ceremony with NATO allies. The youngest inductee gets to cut the cake.

Sometimes you find yourself in a position that turns out to be completely different than where you thought you would be – it even happens in the Army National Guard.

Sergeant (SGT) Austin Vogt of the Oklahoma Army National Guard has navigated changes in direction throughout his service journey, but is focused on his destination – a successful civilian career.

For the last six years, he has served as a Food Service Specialist, primarily responsible for the preparation and service of food in field or garrison food service operations. Food service specialists must complete 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and eight weeks of Advanced Individual Training with on-the-job instructions. Part of this time is spent in the classroom, and part takes place in the field, including practice in food preparation.

SGT Vogt joined the Army National Guard because he admired military service. Both of his grandfathers served in the Army. His paternal grandfather served during war time in Korea and Vietnam. His maternal grandfather had active duty as well as Army National Guard service – ironically as a cook. He says he also was impressed by the benefits offered by the Guard, especially education benefits.

When he first joined the Army National Guard, he was offered several different positions that didn’t really appeal to his interests – Infantry, truck driver – and eventually was offered a job as a cook.

“It seemed like an easy job,” SGT Vogt says. “I like to cook, and I like to eat.”

But his MOS wasn’t exactly what he expected.

“It sounded good at the time, until I got there,” SGT Vogt says. “It was more work and less sleep than I thought.”

Due to under-staffing, there were days when he found himself working from 1 a.m. to 11 p.m., including cleanup, running all shifts – except lunch, which was in the field. There were nights when he slept for just 45 minutes.

Eventually, he realized that being a cook probably wasn’t the best position for him. He was looking toward the future and wanted to set himself up for a successful civilian career with higher pay.

Instead of the kitchen, he set his sights on an IT career. “I thought if I had IT training, I could work my way up and eventually work as a contractor,” SGT Vogt says. Now he is about to transition to a career in communications as a Signal Support Systems Specialist.

Through the Army Relearning Certification Class, he is earning coins that act as a credit. “Courses are very expensive,” SGT Vogt explains. “These classes will help me when going after jobs and will open more doors for me.” He also plans to take advantage of the GI Bill for college courses.

SGT Vogt has been working toward his new goal in his civilian life as well. After spending the last two years in environmental and construction work, he recently took a job in life insurance sales.

“My goal right now is to absorb as much information as I can, to learn about the field and get hands-on experience.”

He sees his civilian career in sales as a segue.

“In the job market, you have to be able to sell yourself. I am learning a whole new vocabulary – and words to avoid,” SGT Vogt says. “I definitely think I am heading in the right direction.”

With career opportunities in more than 130 positions, the Army National Guard can help you find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more. 

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Busy Mom and Soldier is on a Mission to do it Right

PFC Elahni Ocean
PFC Elahni Ocean

Private First Class (PFC) Elahni Ocean is a woman on a mission – to utilize every opportunity she earns serving in the Army National Guard to further herself and her family.

Her unusual first name, which, coincidentally, is “inhale” spelled backwards, seems to reflect her outlook toward her service in the New York Army National Guard – to take everything in.

In her civilian life, PFC Ocean is a busy mom and social worker who is dedicated to helping homeless families. She has been living and working in Brooklyn since 2016 and joined the Army National Guard in July 2019.

“Service is definitely part of me. I like being part of that 1 percent – part of the community that is smaller but powerful.”

Military service runs in her family: PFC Ocean entered the Army National Guard at age 28 – the same age her mother was when she joined the Guard. Her father served in the Marines, her sister is in the Army, and many other extended family members also serve.

“My mother served in the Army National Guard, but she wasn’t afforded the same amount of information on the benefits she would have been able to receive, so she didn’t explore all her options,” says PFC Ocean, “But I plan to explore every single option for myself and my family and I am determined to do it right.”

By “doing it right,” PFC Ocean explains, she plans to take advantage of every opportunity her service in the Army National Guard provides – education, housing, and even help with starting her own business.

Her civilian career as a social worker provided experience to help her succeed in her Army National Guard position in Human Resources.

“We ensure that the Soldier and their family are well maintained,” she explains. “We make sure the Soldier’s story is complete in life and on paper.” That includes ensuring their emergency information is up to date, their insurance is in order, their awards and promotions are on track, and checking qualifications for various trainings/schools.

PFC Ocean says she didn’t realize just how much her civilian career and military career were alike until she finished her training in the Army National Guard. Both require paying close attention to detail and a serious amount of discipline.

“As a woman working in both fields, these are really important,” she explains. “In civilian life, the standard you set forth is the standard your family will follow. In the Army National Guard, the standard you set forth is the standard they respect you at.”

In her civilian work with the homeless, there are sometimes six or more people in the family, and she must make certain she follows through to ensure every family member’s needs are met. The same holds true when working with Soldiers’ families.

“There are set rules that you need to abide by,” she explains. “If you don’t, serious things can happen.”

Both involve a tremendous amount of customer service. “I have to make sure their needs are met to get them to their goal.”

After completion of Advanced Individual Training, PFC Ocean earned the Army Achievement Medal, and the Distinguished Leadership Award. She also received a Certificate of Achievement for her outstanding performance as the Student First Sergeant during her training, which led her to being meritoriously promoted to the rank of Private First Class.

She also completed Weapons Qualification Training, which she says, in times of frustration, actually was a great stress reliever.

“It allows you to get to know your body because you have to move as one to hit your target, and you have to learn to control your body and breathing,” she says.

PFC Ocean has not been deployed yet but says the thoughts of it are both a blessing and a curse. While she would welcome the opportunity to travel, she is dedicated to serving in her community at home – she knows it inside and out and is confident in her ability to keep her community safe and well. “No one can do it any better.”

Her service in the Army National Guard has helped her to grow. “Personally, I think it makes me stronger as a woman and as a mom.”

Moving forward, her goals are to earn the rank of Lieutenant, to travel with the Army National Guard, and leverage every available opportunity for her family’s benefit. She already has done college-level studies, but wants to move forward studying business psychology, and eventually start her own business. She plans to pursue the Helmets to Hardhats program, which helps aspiring entrepreneurs to establish and open their own business. She also wants to contribute her experience to programs that provide help to homeless veterans.

“I like the support I receive in the Army National Guard,” she explains. “You feel that you are part of a community. I know that if I ever fall, I will be completely supported because I made the sacrifice for my country.”

The Army National Guard gives you the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in your home State, so your family is always close by. With positions in more than 130 career fields, you can find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more. 

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Texas Army National Guard Hosts Virtual Career Fair

Image of Texas Army National Guard Virtual Career Fair
Your career with the Texas Army National Guard is a click away.

Just like most events during this pandemic, the Texas Army National Guard’s recruitment fair is going virtual. Visit our virtual career fair on Thursday, July 16, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Central). With a click from your device you will have the opportunity to speak with recruiters, watch videos, and participate in group chats. Don’t wait! Reserve your spot now!

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