Guard Experience Gives Soldier Opportunity “To Be Part of Something Bigger Than Just Myself”

One of the main reasons SSG John Arnold joined the South Carolina Army National Guard was to get away from the 9-to-5 grind.

Mission accomplished.

His journey in the Army National Guard has taken him around the world and includes everything from working on multimillion-dollar boats in South Carolina to touring an ice cream factory in Afghanistan.

Though he’s had vastly different and wide-ranging experiences over his 10 years in the Army National Guard, one thing ties them all together: teamwork, discipline, the desire to succeed, and the willingness to learn something new.

Soldier Loves Guard’s Dual Mission

When SSG Arnold joined the Army National Guard, he was 26 and had an associate degree from a small technical college. He knew what he wanted: a sense of purpose. He also knew what he didn’t want: to work in a typical office environment.

He explored joining the military and passed up the other branches to join the Army National Guard.

“I loved the dual-mission aspect. We not only protect our own State and homeland, but we also travel abroad for peacetime and combat missions,” says SSG Arnold. “We’re the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ branch of the military and I absolutely love it.”

Different Military Occupation Specialties (MOS) Build Many Skills

His first MOS in the Army National Guard was 12B (Combat Engineer). To learn even more skills, he transitioned to several other MOSs, including 12R (Interior Electrician), and 12H (Senior Construction Supervisor).

“Another aspect I love about Guard life is I was able to change my MOS, which is tough to do in other branches of the military,” says SSG Arnold.

SSG John Arnold’s journey in the Army National Guard has taken him around the world and includes everything from working on multimillion-dollar boats in South Carolina to touring an ice cream factory in Afghanistan.
SSG John Arnold’s journey in the Army National Guard has taken him around the world and includes everything from working on multimillion-dollar boats in South Carolina to touring an ice cream factory in Afghanistan.

As he moved through different jobs in the Army National Guard, he took advantage of opportunities he encountered. The first was using the South Carolina Army National Guard’s Employer Assistance Team to get a job with a boat company. Another Soldier in his Unit was already employed there.

“I feel like my Guard experience played a major factor in getting hired,” says SSG Arnold. “It showed the company that I was disciplined, mechanically inclined with an electrical background, and that I was reliable.”

He was responsible for all the electrical components on each boat. Though he says it was “stressful and challenging” working on extremely expensive boats – “One screwup, I could fry an entire wiring harness and its components – he felt satisfaction when each job was finished.

Though he wasn’t able to accompany his Unit to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island (he had just received a promotion), he cheered them from afar. He was able to take advantage of deployments to Columbia, SC, to strengthen dams and remove debris from residential areas during torrential flooding; and Kandahar, Afghanistan, to build guard towers and cafeteria buildings, deconstruct forward operating bases, and ensure the safe transition from American forces to the Afghan National Army or local police.

Sharing Ice Cream and Experiences

It was in Kandahar, during what he calls his most fulfilling mission, that he encountered the ice cream factory.

“We did not get to taste the ice cream, however, the owner got to taste some American dip,” he says.

Though the ice cream factory was memorable, the impact he feels he made while there stands out more.

“We turned the land back over to the local tribal landowners who were, in turn, grateful and thankful for what the American forces had done in the area,” says SSG Arnold.

These are the types of experiences he gets to share every day in his newest role in recruitment. He also gets to speak with potential recruits about the benefits of service in the Army National Guard.

He tells them how he’s used his Army National Guard tuition benefits to pay back loans from his associate degree, to get a bachelor’s degree in emergency management, and start a master’s program in environmental policy and management. He tells them how the Guard gives him the opportunity to serve his community and his country. He tells them how the Guard is a great place to learn.

“The Army National Guard will teach you all of the skills you need during your AIT (Advanced Individual Training) school for your chosen MOS. To learn your MOS, all you have to have is the drive and desire to learn something new,” he says.

He also credits the Army National Guard with giving him self-assurance that will last his entire lifetime:

“Since joining, I’ve had the confidence to be able to take on anything life might throw at me, knowing I will take care of it.”

If you feel a calling to do more in life and give back to your community, check out the Army National Guard, where you’ll serve part-time and receive training in one of more than 130 careers in fields like Supply and LogisticsHeavy WeaponsGround Forces, and Administrative Careers. For details on any MOS, search our job board, and contact your local recruiter for more information.

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Dual Mission: Soldier Serves as Guard Intelligence Analyst and Recruiter

Specialist (SPC) Anna Xenitelis can rattle off the benefits of joining the Army National Guard pretty quickly.

There’s the pay, money for school, health care, and the ability to receive college credits for attending Army courses, to name a few. All of these things rate as fantastic in her book, “but for me, it really, truly is that you’re part of this giant family, and knowing that you have all these people around you, that no matter what happens, you’ll have someone to depend on at the end of the day.”

As a 35F Intelligence Analyst in the Arizona Army National Guard, Soldiers depend on her for the information they need to take action.

Last year, SPC Xenitelis spent nine months deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield. Her job was “to collect information from a multitude of sources to create one big picture on what’s happening around me.”

She didn’t need to know Arabic – there are translators for that – but her mission involved a lot of legwork, reading up to 3,000 reports a day about what is happening in the region.

“You have to constantly educate yourself on the area,” says SPC Xenitelis. “In order to be successful, you have to understand the past first.”

That means understanding the history of a country, its relationships with other nations, its political and military standpoints, and how it treats its civilians.

SPC Anna Xenitelis
SPC Anna Xenitelis is a full-time recruiter in the Arizona Army National Guard who also serves as a 35F Intelligence Analyst.

SPC Xenitelis was recognized as Soldier of the Month by her Unit, the 198th Regional Support Group, for her work during the deployment, and performing above her rank.

Even more fulfilling was an assignment she took on voluntarily to help her brother’s Army National Guard Infantry unit, which was on deployment in Afghanistan at the same time.

“It’s probably the best feeling that I’ve felt in this whole world knowing that maybe I helped my brother and the people on his convoy.”

Born and raised in Hawaii, SPC Xenitelis comes from a military family.

“I knew I wanted to be in the military,” she says. “I wanted to give back just like I saw my dad, my mom, and my brother get to do. I also wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

A family friend’s stories about his job as a military intelligence officer got her interested in the intelligence field. SPC Xenitelis was especially interested in conducting interrogations, but she learned that she would have to work her way up first.

She decided to go for the 35F Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). She enlisted in the Guard at age 17, but not before doing her own independent, objective research like any good intelligence analyst would. She also sought opinions from Soldiers and Airmen she knew to get their perspectives on their particular service branches.

Last fall, as she prepared to come back from deployment, SPC Xenitelis started researching Active Guard Reserve (AGR) jobs, (full-time positions in the Guard). There wasn’t anything available in intelligence, but a recruiting job caught her eye.

“I love the Guard, and if I can get other people to join, that would be great.”

Prior to that, in her civilian life, SPC Xenitelis ran a photography business, and had been working in a salon, using her Guard education benefits to pay for cosmetology school.

Now she’s a Guard recruiter full-time, but she’s still serving as a 35F every drill weekend because she has no intention to give up working in intelligence.

“I absolutely love my job,” she says.

So as a recruiter and an intelligence analyst, SPC Xenitelis’s advice for anyone joining the Guard is not that surprising: talk to a recruiter, but also do your own independent research.

One of the things you’ll do during the enlistment process is find an MOS that suits you. For a look at all of the careers that are available in the Guard, the job board is a great place to start. The Guard offers more than 130 MOSs in fields ranging from technology and networking, to mechanics and maintenance, to engineering and more.

Contact your local recruiter for more information about serving part-time in the Guard, maybe even SPC Xenitelis, if you’re in the Mesa, Ariz., area.

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North Carolina National Guard Sibling Soldiers Reunite on Deployment

U.S. Army Specialist Jacqueline Herzog stands next to her brother, Private First Class, Jeremiah Herzog.
U.S. Army Specialist Jacqueline Herzog stands next to her brother, Private First Class, Jeremiah Herzog, in the Middle East while supporting Operation Spartan Shield, April 9, 2020.

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION – April 10th is Siblings Day, recognizing the special bond between brothers and sisters. The military, including the Army National Guard, is often recognized for similar bonds, because of the special trust that develops among service members in the ranks.

In the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, two Soldiers, who are also brother and sister, were recently brought back together in the Middle East supporting Operation Spartan Shield. In March, U.S. Army Private First Class (PFC) Jeremiah Herzog and U.S. Army Specialist (SPC) Jacqueline Herzog were reunited after eight months of separation, just in time for Siblings Day.

“I was pretty happy to see my sister again,” says Jeremiah Herzog, an Armored Crewman in the 1-252nd Armored Regiment, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team. “I hadn’t seen her since the Fourth of July last year. It was really exciting to see her here in the desert.”

The Herzogs joined the North Carolina National Guard together in the spring of 2018. PFC Herzog, who is two years older, says he was inspired to join after his sister enlisted as a Combat Engineer during her junior year of high school.

“I was surprised when she joined. I didn’t think she was really going to do it, so I had to one-up her and join too,” he says.

SPC Herzog, a Combat Engineer in the 236th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, says basic training was a proud moment, and she is grateful for the support of her parents.

“My mom was hesitant about me joining, but my dad thought it was great. He said, ‘You’re going to get to blow stuff up,’” says SPC Herzog. “He thought it was cool.”

When she went on to complete Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, her brother left for Operation Spartan Shield in the summer of 2019.

“I was happy she made it through. I was both nervous and proud of her,” says PFC Herzog.

The Herzog siblings are nicknamed “other Herzog” by their peers. PFC Herzog says the nickname started their first drill weekend together when they got teased for having the same last name.

“It was a rough first drill weekend together and our first physical training experience,” says PFC Herzog. “It was confusing for people to call us the same name.”

SPC Herzog says going through these experiences together was comforting because they supported each other. She added that it felt like they had each other to count on and that made it better.

PFC Herzog says he’s made a lot of friends while deployed, and it has been a good opportunity for him to perform his job and earn money.

“I love working on the tank and have the most fun when I’m doing tank maintenance,” says PFC Herzog.

SPC Herzog says she enjoys demolition and was excited for upcoming water impulse charge demolition training.

“We blow a big hole in the door in order to breach it so we can move in or get past it,” says SPC Herzog.

The Herzog siblings say they go to dinner every night together and enjoy spending time to sit and talk. They say they are thankful for the continued support of their family and want them to know they love them very much.

When not on deployment, 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 including armor and field artillery, ground forces and engineering, 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 CPT Regina Corbin, 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in April 2020.

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