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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Guard Chaplain Says Serving Once a Month is Not Enough

CPT Rachel Zarnke with the Four Chaplins Medal
CPT Rachel Zarnke, Chaplain for the New Jersey Army National Guard’s 1st Squadron, 102nd Cavalry Regiment, displays The Four Chaplains Medal she was presented with in Jordan last June. The four chaplains – two Protestant ministers, a rabbi, and a Catholic priest – went down with the torpedoed USAT Dorchester during World War II, giving up their own life preservers so others might survive. (Photo by SFC Brian A. Barbour, Army National Guard.)

Captain (CPT) Rachel Zarnke loves serving as a Chaplain in the Army National Guard so much that coming to drill “one weekend a month is not enough.”

“I love being an Army Chaplain,” she says. “I love the mission. I just want to do it every day.”

The 33-year-old Soldier is joining the active duty Army this summer so she can serve full-time, but after eight years with the New Jersey Army National Guard, she leaves on many high notes.

One is being awarded with the Four Chaplains Medal in 2019, which is presented to one Army Chaplain a year for “collegial selfless behavior while rendering religious support to the military community regardless of faith or race.” For that, she thanks her first Unit – the 104th Brigade Engineer Battalion – because “they grew me and taught me what it meant to be a Chaplain.”

Another is a 9-month deployment to Jordan with the 102nd Calvary Regiment, where she learned it was OK to take this next step in her career. Her mission there was to support Soldiers of any faith or no faith at all and be their “morality, ethical, and spiritual touchstone,” she says.

“When deployed, you are absent normal touchstones,” she explains. “It can become disorienting very quickly. Having a Chaplain able to reorient people on their values, their goals, and what is real, and what is just sort of the fog of the deployment is important.”

As a Christian minister, CPT Zarnke represents her faith tradition, but to help Soldiers of different or no faith, she listens and asks Soldiers how their spiritual traditions or their value sets might instruct them to resolve a problem. During the deployment, if she felt a Soldier needed support beyond what she could provide, she referred them to other resources as necessary.

In Jordan to support Operation Spartan Shield last year, CPT Zarnke also led “spiritual resiliency trips” to places that carry religious, spiritual, cultural, or environmental significance.

“Being in a place where God has been is very important to me, so to be able to share that part of my faith with my Soldiers was incredible.”

CPT Zarnke, an Illinois native, was in seminary school at Princeton when she decided to join the military. Since she was a full-time student, the Guard was the perfect branch to join because service is part-time. CPT Zarnke also served as a minister in a Lutheran church in New Jersey for 3 1/2 years.

The military, she says, showed her there were infinite ways to serve.

“I don’t like to play the demographic game, but when you are a young female, trying to step up and lead in a church, no one wants to listen to you. Not intentionally, it’s just not a voice people are used to deferring to. The Army teaches you to stay in your lane – to know what you know and to lead. It was a life-changing experience.”

CPT Zarnke especially likes working with younger Soldiers who are still figuring out who they are.

“I think a Soldier’s heart is amazing. They are so selfless, and so honorable, and to be able to support them in their moments of need really means a lot to me.”

In her first domestic mission, CPT Zarnke lent her support during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, providing what she calls “ministry of presence –  just being there for your Soldiers,” whether it’s to thank them on behalf of the citizens of New Jersey for responding to the devastating storm, being a safe person to talk to or pray with, or to provide them with the Eucharist because many churches were closed.

At drill, her job is to get to know the 300 to 400 Soldiers in her Unit and provide worship services and Bible studies, but her most fulfilling mission is “whenever I’m called outside of drill and there’s a need I can meet.” That could mean meeting up with a Soldier in a hospital, a coffee shop, or a laundromat to lend her support.

When CPT Zarnke looks back on her early days in the Guard, she says she had no idea what she’d gotten herself into, but “the Army will teach you what it needs from you. I could never repay the Army for everything it’s given me. It is an incredible community.”

If you’re interested in joining a community of dedicated women and men who serve both their communities and their country, Guard service comes with benefits that go beyond personal fulfillment. You’ll train for a career in one of 130 specialties, including everything from Administrative jobs to Police and Protection roles to serving on the front lines as part of Ground Forces. Guard Soldiers are also eligible for money for college, low-cost health and life insurance, and more.

Contact your local recruiter for more information about the Army National Guard.

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