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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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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