Michigan Army National Guard Helps Boost Food Bank Distribution

Michigan Army National Guard Helps with Food Bank Distribution
Soldiers from the 1433rd and 1434th Engineer Companies, Michigan Army National Guard, package more than 1,000 meal boxes a day at Gleaners Community Food Bank in Pontiac in response to COVID-19. Guard members are serving at six food distribution sites across the state. (Photo by 2LT Ashley Goodwin.)

LANSING, Michigan – The Army National Guard has been helping communities across the nation cope with the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways.

Since March, the Michigan Army National Guard has helped the Food Bank Council of Michigan distribute more than 26 million pounds of food, feeding hundreds of thousands of Michigan families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The National Guard’s involvement has been key to getting more food out to more people throughout this time, and they have been such a tremendous help,” says Kath Clark, director of food programs for the Food Bank Council of Michigan. “All of our volunteers do great work, but when the National Guard comes in, they really put their back into it.”

After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order in March, food banks were challenged to find alternative ways to support Michiganders.

“A majority of those working in our food banks are retirees and are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus,” says Clark. “Many of the volunteers decided they were going to follow the order early on, understandably, of course, which left us short-staffed.”

The food bank asked for help from the Michigan Army National Guard via the State Emergency Operations Center.

Michigan National Guard support was initiated with 10 to 12 members at each of six food bank distribution sites – in Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Comstock Park, Flint, Pontiac, and Royal Oak. Their assistance has helped increase the distribution of resources to families in need by 41 percent.

“This mission has allowed a unique opportunity to directly apply the skills from my civilian career to a military mission,” says Sergeant (SGT) Kyle Greenway, 1433rd Engineer Company, Michigan Army National Guard.

The Army National Guard provides Citizen-Soldiers the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in their home State, so your service directly supports your community. In return for their service, Soldiers receive benefits, including money for college, VA home loans, and Guard pay, among others.

“I am the non-commissioned officer in charge at the Gleaners Community Food Bank in Pontiac, Michigan, and on the civilian side, I am a manufacturing shipping supervisor in Holland, Michigan,” SGT Greenway says.

“By combining good manufacturing practices and the hard work ethic of the Michigan Army National Guard, my team has been able to increase the output of production at our site by more than 300 percent,” SGT Greenway says. “This is a testament to the readiness and commitment of the Michigan Army National Guard to serving our fellow Michiganders in times of need.”

With positions in more than 130 career fields, including supply and logistics, admin and relations, and transport, 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.  

From an original article by 2LT Ashley Goodwin, Michigan National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in June 2020.

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Iowa Guard Soldier Helps Community with Virtual Instruction

Spc. Taylor Lenhart, a military police Soldier with the 186th Military Police Company, Iowa Army National Guard, helps move a traffic barrier in Des Moines, April 27, 2020. Lenhart is one of 60 military police Soldiers supporting the first drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Iowa.
 SPC Taylor Lenhart, a military police Soldier with the 186th Military Police Company, Iowa Army National Guard, helps move a traffic barrier in Des Moines, April 27, 2020. Lenhart is one of 60 military police Soldiers supporting the first drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Iowa. (Photo by SGT Tawny Schmit.)

DES MOINES, Iowa – On a sunny afternoon downtown, Army National Guard Specialist (SPC) Taylor Lenhart is doing exactly what she joined the Iowa National Guard to do – helping her local community in times of crisis as a Citizen-Soldier®. SPC Lenhart is one of 60 Soldiers with the 186th Military Police Company activated to assist at Iowa’s first drive-through COVID-19 testing site.

But, up until last week, SPC Lenhart was supporting her community in another way – instructing virtual karate classes.

SPC Lenhart grew up in Ankeny, where she began taking karate classes at the age of 9. Now 22, she has earned a second-degree black belt and has been instructing students at Dojo Family Martial Arts for four years. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, SPC Lenhart and her fellow instructors knew they would have to get creative if they hoped to continue teaching their students while following social distancing guidelines.

“We had to move to Zoom (videoconference) classes, which has so far turned out really well,” SPC Lenhart says. “I help teach martial arts, but what we also teach a lot of is character skills. We help discipline kids and keep order in the house.”

Despite the distance, SPC Lenhart says all four Dojo Family Martial Arts locations in the Des Moines metro area have become one big, happy community with an average of 30 students per class. The instructors and students from different locations usually only see each other at combined belt exams, but the virtual classes have made it possible to connect with everyone more often, she says.

Now that she’s been called to State active duty, SPC Lenhart says she’s grateful for the skills 12 years of karate classes have given her – skills that go beyond kicking and blocking.

“I probably wouldn’t have joined the military if it wasn’t for the confidence karate has given me,” SPC Lenhart says. “When it comes to moving up the ranks, karate and the military are similar. When you’re an instructor, you’re in charge. You have to have the confidence to teach others what you already know. The same goes for noncommissioned officers in the Army.”

SPC Lenhart is confident in her ability to help in the fight against COVID-19, but her new mission is important on a personal level as well. When businesses began shutting down in Iowa, SPC Lenhart decided to move back home, and she says it ended up being a good decision for her family.

“I live with a high-risk person right now,” SPC Lenhart says. “My mother has muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair since she was 16. I’m trying to help them get through this.”

SPC Lenhart is dedicated to supporting her family and helping her students maintain their fitness and focus through home care and virtual classes, but now she’s supporting them in a different way.

At the drive-through testing site in Des Moines, SPC Lenhart and fellow Soldiers are directing traffic and ensuring that medical personnel can do their job efficiently, all while following no-contact protocols.

“It’s really nice for us to be here and help things run more smoothly, that way people can get in and out of here fast,” SPC Lenhart says.

Above all, SPC Lenhart says she wants people to stay safe. While it can be difficult to be away from her family and students during this stressful time, she says she’s proud to help.

“I have a duty to my State and country, to the people in this community,” SPC Lenhart says. “Helping out here is also helping my students get back in the classroom faster.”

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.  From an original article by Sergeant (SGT) Tawny Schmit, Iowa National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil on May 4, 2020.

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Off-Duty South Carolina Guard Members Help Bahamian Hurricane Victims


2LT William “Cole” Sanford Jr. and 2LT Sam Evans, both from the South Carolina Army National Guard, fly back and forth from Florida to the Bahamas while off duty in September 2019 to deliver supplies to victims of Hurricane Dorian.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two South Carolina Army National Guard members volunteered to deliver needed supplies to Bahamian victims of Hurricane Dorian in five flights on a small plane.

South Carolina Army National Guard Second Lieutenant (2LT) Sam Evans, 1-118th Infantry Battalion, Bravo Company platoon leader, and 2LT William “Cole” Sanford Jr., Charlie Company, 1-151st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion platoon leader, found the opportunity to volunteer via an online forum from a group that had organized the collection of supplies but needed pilots and planes to fly them to the Bahamas.

“I reached out to get more details, and asked Sanford if he was interested in making the relief trips with me, to which he said yes,” says 2LT Evans.

Hurricane Dorian inflicted heavy damage on the Bahamas Aug. 24, 2019, killing at least 50 people and leaving about 70,000 people homeless.

2LT Evans, a graduate of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and ROTC cadet, obtained his private pilot license before commissioning and then returned to South Carolina. 2LT Sanford, a graduate of Wofford College in South Carolina and an ROTC cadet, earned his private pilot license for a single-engine, land, and fixed-wing aircraft while attending school.

The two flew back and forth from South Florida to the Bahamas five times in September on a two-seat single-engine prop 1943 Luscombe Silvaire, delivering more than 500 pounds of toiletries, tents, and Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).

“We were limited on space and weight,” says 2LT Evans, who is pursuing a commercial pilot license. “We could take about 100 pounds of supplies each trip and would pack aid into every space possible.”

“At the end of the day, what we did was small,” says 2LT Sanford. “But it felt good that the toiletries and other things that we brought could be helping someone. It may just have been a pick-me-up for someone who had just lost their house.”

The Army National Guard gives Soldiers like 2LTs Sanford and Evans the opportunity to pursue civilian careers, education, and other training while serving part-time in their home State, so there is time to further your career while staying close to home.

Citizen-Soldiers earn benefits to help pay for education and expenses while serving their country and their community.

With positions in more than 130 career fields including heavy weapons, intelligence, and aviation, 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. 

From an original article by SGT David Erskine, South Carolina National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in October 2019.

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