MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – The New Jersey Army National Guard’s Psychological Health Program
recently welcomed its fifth team member, although instead of wearing combat
boots, he has four paws. Ace is a rescue dog, and at 8 months old, he’s been
making waves throughout the State as a therapy animal in training.
Ace can be
seen sporting military gear with a large “PET ME” patch emblazoned on the side.
to be a tool that we’ll be able to use in order to connect Soldiers and provide
emotional and therapeutic support throughout the State,” says Captain (CPT)
Melissa Parmenter, a behavioral health officer with the New Jersey Army National Guard.
when we’re struggling with mental illness or just life stressors, it’s hard to
get that courage to come forward and ask for some help, so Ace’s role will be
to help open that door.”
When CPT Parmenter
was pondering what to name the dog, her husband noted that Batman had a dog
named Ace. She immediately took to the idea when she realized it fit the Army
acronym for Ask, Care, Escort.
teaches Soldiers at the lowest level, if you have a battle buddy in need, this
is how to get them to the right place, and not to leave them alone until
they’re in the right hands,” she says.
already been helping Soldiers, providing comfort to those in need.
body posture and everything changes automatically when they see him. He’s
licking everybody, and everybody is trying to touch him, hug him, and get
kisses from him. The whole demeanor of wherever he walks in changes.”
hopes that Ace will break down barriers when it comes to mental health.
“I think Ace
will help change the thinking that therapy has to be sitting at a desk and
talking to someone,” she says.
“I think it
will help us get the message across that there are different modalities
available, and there are different ways to receive therapy that can be helpful
and really beneficial.”
impact is ingrained in the Army National Guard’s mission. If you’re passionate about helping
others and making a difference in someone’s life, consider joining the National
Guard. With hundreds of positions available in the medical field, including mental health specialists, you, too, can serve part-time in
State, and take care of
those who may need you the most. To see all current job opportunities, visit
the job board or contact a recruiter to learn more today.
From an original article by MSG Matt
Hecht, New Jersey National Guard, which appeared in the news section of
NationalGuard.mil in October 2019.
Major (MAJ) Steven Gagner, Infantry
Officer in the Vermont Army National Guard, has built an accomplished, fulfilling life from
the skills he’s gained, the lessons he’s learned, and the experiences he’s had
while serving in the military. Those fundamentals gave him the tools he needed
to succeed, and now he’s living his ultimate dream.
In 2010, while deployed in Afghanistan,
he and a fellow Vermont Army National Guard Soldier came up with the idea to open a
brewery back in Vermont. They wrote up plans in the back of a notebook, and
when they arrived home, they took out a loan – that’s when 14th Star
Brewing Company was born.
They received their license in May
2012 and brewed 60 gallons that month. Now, seven years later, they’re brewing
6,000 gallons a week, have 24 employees,
and distribute to seven states: Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York,
New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, with additional limited
distribution in the United Kingdom.
After the success of 14th
Star, MAJ Gagner and two fellow Soldiers opened a whiskey distillery called
Danger Close Craft Distilling, with one goal in mind: to make a big impact on veterans.
Future sales of Danger Close’s bourbon and whiskey raise money for non-profits
and brings veterans to Vermont, at no cost, to teach them all about business,
and how their skills from the military can translate directly to their civilian
“We were leaning so heavily on the
things we learned in the service about building a team, establishing goals,
leading people, getting results, working hard – all of those things we had
learned in the past couple of decades in the service transitioned beautifully
to business ownership.”
Because of these feats, MAJ Gagner was
named Small Business Person of the Year for the State of Vermont this past June
and the Military Times’ inaugural Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017.
Along with running two successful
businesses, MAJ Gagner is now the battalion commander of the Army Mountain
Warfare School in Vermont, which teaches Soldiers survivability, lethality, and
mobility in extreme climatic environments. Training 1,000 Soldiers a year in
the rain, snow, and mountains, the school focuses on basic and advanced
mountaineering, advanced medical evacuations, and high-angle shooting.
MAJ Gagner’s decision to join the
military stems from growing up in a patriotic family with a father who served in
the military for 36 years, and his desire to serve his country. He enlisted in
the Army National Guard in 1996 while
attending Norwich University, and has been serving ever since.
“It just seemed like a hand-in-glove
fit,” he recalls.
MAJ Gagner’s military journey spans
decades and has led him down many different career paths within the National
“I have the weirdest career ever,” he
For the first eight years of his
service, he worked in aviation,
both in the Guard and active duty, serving in Korea and Alabama. Once he was
off active duty, he went back to college. After graduation was when his career
touched many facets of the Guard, including Armor, Quartermaster, Logistics,
Fifteen years and four branches later, he is now a decorated Infantry officer
in the Vermont Army National Guard.
“I love Vermont Guardsmen,” he says.
“There’s just something about the Vermont Guard. The Soldiers are really
terrific, professional, and we’re a family. It’s pretty cool to be in such a
close-knit, patriotic state.”
MAJ Gagner has dedicated so much of
his time to helping others, not only with his businesses, but through his
service as well. While deployed in Iraq, he was involved in a handful of public
works projects. During his second deployment in Afghanistan, he was part of a
patrol team that kept the civilians of Bagram safe from rockets. In 2011, he toured
Vermont with his fellow guardsmen and helped victims of Hurricane Irene.
“It was so wonderful and fulfilling to
do things that other people needed.”
MAJ Gagner is a firm believer in going
for what you want and never asking, “what if?” Joining the military ultimately led
him to becoming a businessman, and he couldn’t be anymore grateful.
“My time in the Army has made me a
better business owner,” he says, “and being a business owner has made me a
LINCOLN, Neb. – Every Soldier in the Army National Guard has a story: the reasons why they joined the
military, picked their particular military occupational specialty (MOS), or
serve in their military Unit of choice.
For two Soldiers serving in the Nebraska
Army National Guard’s Troop B, 1-134th Cavalry, their stories are notably
different than those around them. That’s because Sergeant (SGT) Nicole Havlovic
and SGT Danielle Martin are two of the very few women serving in the Nebraska Cavalry
Squadron, and are two of only a few women in the nation who have successfully
graduated from the Army’s toughest combat arms MOS school, earning themselves
the title of Cavalry Scout.
It was that desire for something new
that drove her to join the Nebraska Army Guard Cavalry Squadron.
“I felt like it would be a perfect
fit. I’m pretty outdoorsy and this – being out in the field – doesn’t bother me
SGT Danielle Martin’s route to becoming
a Cavalry scout was not a direct one, either.
“I’ve always wanted to go into combat
arms,” she says. “It was a year before joining the military that I knew combat
arms was what I wanted to do. However, I was still junior-enlisted, so I really
couldn’t do much about it.”
The last restrictions against women
serving in combat roles were lifted in 2013. However, Army regulations
specified that Units were first required to have two female Cavalry scouts in
leadership positions before other female Soldiers would be allowed to join
their ranks. This made integrating junior-ranking women into the Units all that
much more difficult.
Both Sergeants attended Cavalry scout
reclassification school – an Army school designed to train Soldiers from other
MOS’ in the skills needed to become operational Cavalry scouts. SGT Martin
attended the November reclassification course in Boise, Id. After completing
the course, she reported to the Nebraska-based Troop B this past January.
SGT Martin says the reception she
received from her new Unit made her realize they respected her newly-earned
skills. She says it wasn’t about changing who anyone was, but rather, having
mutual respect between Soldiers.
“They don’t treat me any differently
just because I’m female. I’m one of the guys and I think it needs to be that way.
I’m not coming in here to change them, I’m coming in here because I know I can
physically and mentally handle it, and I want to do the job.”
SGT Havlovic attended the Cavalry Scout
Transition Course in Smyrna, Tenn., and reported to Troop B in April 2019. She too
says her fellow Soldiers don’t treat her differently than any other member of
“I expect them to believe that they
can trust me with the mission and what we have to do,” she says. “Everyone has
been welcoming to me.”
With the two women completing their
transition courses, Nebraska National Guard’s 1-134th Cavalry Squadron became
the ninth Army National Guard Unit, fourth Cavalry Troop, and second Infantry
Brigade Combat Team Cavalry Troop to be opened for junior enlisted female Cavalry
First Sergeant (1SG) Andrew Filips,
Troop B’s senior enlisted Soldier, has spent 15 years in the Squadron. He says
the change of policy wasn’t an issue.
“What it comes down to is that we’re a
Combat Arms Unit and there’s only one standard. You either make the cut, or
there are other Units for you to go to.”
First Sergeant (1SG) Christopher
Marcello of Grand Island’s Troop A, 1-134th Cavalry Squadron, is a 22-year
veteran of the Squadron. He has also been a member of the Grand Island Police
Department for six years. He echoes 1SG Filips’ sentiments.
“I work with women every day as a
police officer and that’s a tough job. Combat arms isn’t any different. You
have to have the right fit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. You
have to be the right kind of person to be a scout.”
The Nebraska Army National Guard’s
1-134th Cavalry Squadron is part of the larger 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team,
which is headquartered in Arkansas. The Brigade is responsible for providing
training and readiness oversight of its subordinate Units. According to Command
Sergeant Major (CSM) Gregory White, 39th IBCT senior enlisted leader, the Brigade
finds the right Soldiers for the job by looking at those who want to do it,
instead of looking at who can physically do it.
CSM White also says that women who
hold a combat arms MOS are the best representatives to recruit other women into
the field. He spoke with SGT Martin during a visit to Troop B’s recent annual
training in the Republic of Korea. They both agreed the focus should be on
reaching out to women who want the challenge of serving in a combat arms
position, and once they do, give them the tools they need to become advocates.
“Having her [SGT Martin] talk to them
is going to be so much better than a guy who has been in for 30 years,” he says.
“A 50-year-old man talking to these young women will not reach them the same
1SG Filips says the physical demands
are not the only aspect of combat arms that new recruits need to consider. The
relatively demanding training pace also makes Combat Arms Units different.
Troop B regularly trains in the field and spends most drill weekends training
throughout the night. That is often one of the more significant reasons why
some Soldiers eventually choose to transfer into the squadron.
“If you want to come into the Guard
and feel like this is what I want to do; (that) I want to … be awesome and be
the baddest dudes and wear the cool hats and do all that, then yes go for it,”
says 1SG Filips. “But if you are ‘I want to try this because it would be neat,’
there’s other places to be neat. Come here because this is what you always
wanted to do in life. You have to want it.”
1SG Marcello seconds these comments,
adding that Troop A is willing to let Soldiers – male or female – try being a Cavalry
scout for their drill weekend.
“We’re more than happy to let people
come in, try it out and if it doesn’t work for you, we get it,” he says. “It has
nothing to do with gender or sex; it has to do with whether or not you can do
Both SGT Havlovic and SGT Martin say
they realize they are now mentors and role models for those around them and encourage
other Soldiers to give it a try.
“It’s definitely something I would sit
down, explain to them, and educate them on,” says SGT Havlovic, who now works
for the State recruiting office.
“It’s not for everybody, it really isn’t.
I don’t believe that just because combat arms has been opened up to females
means that all females belong here – but if you can do it, then do it.”
If you’ve got what it takes to stand
alongside some of the strongest Soldiers, consider joining the Army National
Guard. By becoming a Soldier in the Guard, you’ll be able to serve part-time in your home State, and receive top-notch
training in the career field of your choice. Browse the job
board for opportunities in more than 130
specialties, including ground forces, aviation,
Contact a recruiter to learn how you can serve today!
From an original
article by SSG Herschel Talley, Nebraska National Guard, which appeared in the
news section of NationalGuard.mil in September 2019.