Maryland Army National Guard Member Wise Beyond Her Rank

WO1 Karinn Hemingway, a 110th Information Operations Battalion Information Services Technician, commissions as a Maryland Army National Guard Warrant Officer during a graduation and pinning ceremony in October 2019. (Photo by Major Kurt Rauschenberg.)
WO1 Karinn Hemingway, a 110th Information Operations Battalion Information Services Technician, commissions as a Maryland Army National Guard Warrant Officer during a graduation and pinning ceremony in October 2019. (Photo by Major Kurt Rauschenberg.)

BALTIMORE, Maryland – Warrant Officers: They are the technical experts of the U.S. Army and Army National Guard. They are tasked with the invaluable responsibility of becoming subject matter experts in their career fields and serve as advisors, mentors, and trainers. Warrant Officers typically ascend from the Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) ranks within their military occupational specialties (MOSs).

However, Karinn Hemingway, a Maryland Army National Guard member, became one of the few Warrant Officers to be selected without being an NCO. Her diverse experience in the military and the civilian world allowed her to gain the necessary skills and knowledge she needed to dive into the Warrant Officer Program.

“I think it would be very different if I were on active duty,” explains WO1 Hemingway. “I don’t think I would have had the flexibility to work in the many different roles that gave me the experience to become a Warrant Officer. Being in the Guard has made it possible for me to work my full-time civilian job, attend college, obtain certifications, and still serve.”

A former Specialist in the 110th Information Operations Battalion, WO1 Hemingway has more than 10 combined years of military service as a Telecommunications Operator and Maintainer, and civilian experience in the information technology and cyber fields.

WO1 Hemingway started her military career on active duty in the U.S. Army working at the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Washington, D.C., area. After completing an initial active duty enlistment, she focused on completing both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. During her decade-long break in service, she worked as a government contractor spending time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Upon returning home from her second contract in Afghanistan, WO1 Hemingway decided to re-enlist into the Army again – this time into the Virginia Army National Guard, before coming to the Maryland Army National Guard.

Between those enlistments, her military career field had merged with another. Even with her years of experience in the military, she no longer qualified in her previous MOS. Frustrated with the situation, WO1 Hemingway began to consider alternative career paths, such as commissioning or switching to a different branch of service.

However, she realized commissioning could potentially take her out of the field she had specialized in for years. After attending a Future Formation event, a program designed to retain Soldiers near the end of their enlistment contracts, she shifted her direction. She pursued the path of becoming a Warrant Officer.

“I think that was the best decision for me because I wanted to stay in [my career field],” WO1 Hemingway explains.

It was this same decision that led her to meet Chief Warrant Officer 2 (CW2) Curtis Taylor, the Warrant Officer Strength Manager of the Maryland Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, who guided her through the initial process.

“One of the first things [that stood out] was her poise and demeanor,” explains CW2 Taylor. “You could tell how focused and determined she was to achieve this goal. Second, you could say that she was wise beyond her rank. Which begged the question, ‘Why are you just a Specialist?’”

Her rank as a Specialist would be a unique challenge when submitting her Warrant Officer packet, as typically most Warrant Officer career fields have a minimum NCO rank requirement. Despite this hurdle, WO1 Hemingway gathered everything she needed, and went in front of a board to prove her qualifications.

“Normally, Technical Warrant [Officers] require a certain amount of expertise,” explains WO1 Hemingway. “You’re supposed to be the subject matter expert for your job specialty. For Technical Warrant [Officers], you tend to have people that are more seasoned and have been in their career for a long time.”

At first glance, Specialists would be assumed to have minimal experience in their fields, CW2 Taylor explains. However, you often see a higher level of experience and education from junior ranking Guard members who enter the military equipped with bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“I think the difference with active duty is you [often] have two jobs in the Guard,” explains CW2 Taylor. “You have your civilian job and then you have your [military job]. So, you’ve already shown you’re capable of managing several different tasks.”

Knowing she had the experience and skills to set herself apart, WO1 Hemingway and CW2 Taylor poured over the prerequisite requirements to be a Technical Warrant Officer within her career field. They discovered that highly experienced Specialists could be considered for selection.

While WO1 Hemingway may not have necessarily satisfied the rank requirement, she certainly had more than enough experience in her specialty. Her separation from active duty prior service and the flexibility of the National Guard both provided the space and time for her to gain the knowledge and the training she needed to be awarded her MOS qualification and satisfy the requirements to be a Warrant Officer candidate.

“Being in the Guard has allowed me the ability to work in numerous roles in my civilian career,” explains WO1 Hemingway. “All of the skills that I learned [during Advanced Individual Training] and throughout my military career were the baseline for me continuing in that role in my civilian job.”

Once her packet was approved, WO1 Hemingway shipped off to Warrant Officer Candidate School, where she learned the foundational leadership skills. Upon graduating, she had officially joined the ranks of Warrant Officers.

Her next step is to go through the Warrant Officer Basic Course to become fully qualified in her technical specialty. Until then, she will fulfill the role of mentor for any service member looking to tap into her vast knowledge and skill set.

Throughout her career, she was no stranger to mentoring many of her peers and co-workers.

“I guess they felt like I was easier to talk to than their leadership,” explains WO1 Hemingway. “I became the person they would always come and talk to.”

With her combined civilian and military experience, she will be able to share her diverse knowledge and skills with those looking for guidance into the Warrant Officer Program and beyond.

Citizen-Soldiers like WO1 Hemingway primarily serve part-time in their home States, enabling them to further their careers while staying close to home. They earn benefits to help pay for education and expenses while serving their country and their communities.

With more than 130 positions in career fields ranging from Heavy Weapons to Transportation to Intelligence, 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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Indiana National Guard Major Helps Manage 11,000 Troops Overseas

Indiana Army National Guard MAJ Dan Taylor, 38th Infantry Division Deputy Personnel Officer, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. (Photo by MSG Jeff Lowry.)
Indiana Army National Guard MAJ Dan Taylor, 38th Infantry Division Deputy Personnel Officer, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. (Photo by MSG Jeff Lowry.)

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – For Army National Guard Major (MAJ) Dan Taylor of the 38th Infantry Division, helping to manage some 11,000 U.S. service members supporting Task Force Spartan in the Middle East is just what he signed up for.

“It is important for me to be part of something bigger than just myself,” says the Rochester, Ind., native.

MAJ Taylor, the division’s Deputy Personnel Officer, and approximately 600 Soldiers departed the Hoosier State in May to deploy to the Middle East to support Task Force Spartan, which helps strengthen defense relationships, build partner capacity, and deter aggression in the region.

“The National Guard has also allowed me to meet interesting people and go to different places,” says MAJ Taylor, who joined the military in 1995. “Our missions, whether at home or abroad, have far-reaching impacts.”

MAJ Taylor first joined the active-duty Army as a 91B Light-wheel Vehicle Mechanic.

“Enlisting provided me with a trade and a lot of personal development,” he says. “My time on active duty gave me the confidence needed to attend college. In 2001, I decided to get out of the Army to attend college.”

MAJ Taylor earned his undergraduate degree in business and human resource management from Indiana University Kokomo, his master’s in business administration from Purdue Fort Wayne, and another degree in human resources and employment relations from Penn State University.

“Once I finished grad school in 2006, I decided to join the National Guard to continue to serve,” says Taylor. “I was fortunate to branch Adjutant General Corps, which aligned with my civilian goals.”

Adjutant General Corps Soldiers focus on personnel, human resources, and strength management for the U.S. Army.

“Through the National Guard, I was able to be formally trained in human resources, which eventually helped me secure a civilian HR role,” says Taylor. “Since then, my Army HR training has augmented my development as an HR professional.”

The Army National Guard’s admin and relations experts take care of the needs of Soldiers – and the organization as a whole. From human resources and finances to legal aid and religious services, these Soldiers provide responsive assistance to personnel needs. Whether assisting an employee with pay, managing career progressions, or handling public relations for the organization, these Soldiers learn skills that directly translate to the civilian sector.

When not serving in the Army National Guard, MAJ Taylor works as a benefits representative at Allison Transmission in Speedway, Ind.

While the Army training helped MAJ Taylor procure his civilian job, he said he also sees other altruistic benefits to being in the military and serving in the National Guard.

“I am privileged to be able to serve both the State and the country. My family and my work are both very supportive of my service.”

Citizen-Soldiers like MAJ Taylor primarily serve part-time in their home States, enabling them to further their careers while staying close to home. They earn benefits to help pay for education and expenses while serving their country and their community.

With more than 130 positions in career fields ranging from heavy weapons to transportation to intelligence, 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 MSG Jeff Lowry, 38th Infantry Division, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in November 2019.

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Guard Soldier’s Desire to Do More Leads to Dream Job Training Dogs

They say, “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

For Sergeant (SGT) Giovanna Donofrio, this statement holds true as she moves into the sixth year of her military career. She’s turned her passion into purpose, and found a job that she truly loves waking up for in the morning.

At age 20, SGT Donofrio was attending school, but lacked the feeling that she was making an impact. With the desire to do something different with her life, she decided to join the military.

“I needed to do something that made me feel like I was helping people more,” she says. “When I joined, I was pretty excited to feel like I was actually contributing.”

Upon leaving active duty six years later, she knew she wanted to continue her service. She transitioned to the Connecticut Army National Guard, so she could serve close to home and work in the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) she wanted.

“When I was getting out of active duty, I [kind of] didn’t want to because I was going to miss it so much. But now that I’m in the National Guard, I’m still able to do everything I love.”

SGT Donofrio started her military career as a 91B Light-Wheel Vehicle Mechanic, and two years later, re-classed as a 31K Military Working Dog Handler – an MOS she felt passionate about.

SGT Donofrio and Schurkje pose in front of the flag at the Newtown Military Working Dog Kennels in Connecticut.

Connecticut, home to the only National Guard kennel in the U.S., is the perfect fit for SGT Donofrio. She gets to do what she loves by working with dogs, and she’s a wife and mother of three children, so being able to spend time with her family is a priority. Serving in the Army National Guard gives her the flexibility to do both.

“It’s been very beneficial for me. I love what I do, and I love being able to wear the uniform,” she says. “I love my job and being able to go home every day and see my family.”

SGT Donofrio currently works full time alongside her furry partner, Schurkje (pronounced Shur-key), a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, specializing in drug detection.

“You’re assigned a military working dog, and depending on what kind of dog it is, whether it’s a drug dog or explosive dog, you train with this dog, and you become a team,” she explains. “Then you go out on missions to either find explosives or drugs.”

To become a dog handler, Guard members must attend Military Police training at Fort Leonard Wood for 7 weeks, followed by K9 training at Lackland Airforce Base for 11 weeks, where they learn how to handle a dog. Once complete, they’re assigned a military working dog, and go through a certification process before being able to deploy. SGT Donofrio and Schurkje are currently working toward their certification.

To get certified, Soldiers and their K9s must go through 3 to 5 days of what’s called a Detection Lane – an exercise that tests a dog’s ability to sniff out a hidden training aid, either narcotics or explosives, depending on the type of dog. The handler watches for any change in behavior, indicating the dog has detected the items.

Then they have patrol, which includes controlled aggression, a scout, and a building search, followed by obedience training in an obstacle course, and an exercise featuring gunfire to ensure the K9 won’t act aggressively or shy away if it comes under fire.

SGT Giovanna Donofrio watches as Schurkje hurdles over an obstacle in the obedience course at the Newtown Military Working Dog Kennels in Connecticut.

“As far as Schurkje goes, he is great with gunfire, and just sits there next to me perfectly fine,” boasts SGT Donofrio.

Even though they can’t run missions just yet, SGT Donofrio and Schurkje are given opportunities elsewhere. This past March, in honor of K9 Veterans Day, the pair, alongside other members of the Connecticut Army National Guard’s 928th Military Working Dog Detachment, were presented with an official citation from the General Assembly at the State Capitol, recognizing them for their service. This, she says, has been one of her most fulfilling moments in the Guard thus far.

Not only does she love her job, she also enjoys all the benefits the Guard has to offer. With the Guard’s tuition assistance, she attends school full time, working toward her bachelor’s degree in accounting, and recently, she was able to purchase a new home using the VA loan benefit.

When she’s off the clock, SGT Donofrio enjoys hanging out with her Pomsky (half Pomeranian/half Husky), spending time with her family, painting, going to Zumba, horseback riding, and coaching cheerleading.

The Army National Guard offers the flexibility you need to live a well-balanced life. With more than 130 career options in fields like military police, medicine, and infantry, you, too, can find a job that you love, with benefits that help support you, your lifestyle, and your family. Contact a local recruiter to learn more today.

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