Soldier Praises Guard for Benefits and Opportunities

The decision to join the military can be based on a number of factors – for some, the benefits alone seem worth it, while others feel it’s their duty to serve their country. For Specialist (SPC) Sychelle Gonsalves, it was a combination of both that influenced her to join the Army National Guard.

“At the time, I was 20 and I wanted to stay in Alaska,” she recalls. “The recruiter told me that they’d send me to basic training, and I’d only be there for a couple of months. Then I’d come back to Alaska and serve part-time.”

SPC Sychelle Gonsalves is a 31B Military Police Officer in the Alaska Army National Guard, stationed at Fort Greely with the 49th Missile Defense Battalion.

SPC Gonsalves was a bank teller at the time she enlisted. Being able to serve part-time while continuing to work in her civilian career was one of the main benefits that drew her to Guard service – the education benefits were an added bonus. She’s currently utilizing the Guard’s tuition assistance to pursue a degree in logistics.

In 2016, SPC Gonsalves began her Guard career as a 92Y Unit Supply Specialist as part of a Military Police unit in Anchorage. Logistics is her passion, but once she heard about the wealth of opportunities at Fort Greely, she reclassed into a new MOS so she could relocate. Now serving full-time as 31B Military Police, she’s stationed at Fort Greely with the 49th Missile Defense Battalion.

SPC Gonsalves says that enlisting in the Army National Guard has enhanced her interpersonal skills, decision-making abilities, and problem-solving techniques, as well as helped her discover her strengths and weaknesses, so much so that she competed in the 2019 Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition.

When she was approached to compete, she didn’t know anything about the competition and was nervous – but she participated anyway to see how far she could push herself.

“I just wanted to compete,” she says.

SPC Gonsalves first competed in the Battalion Best Warrior Competition, which is the local-level event in July of 2018. She took the title and went on to compete in the State-level competition, taking home the victory for that event as well.

She then went on to represent the State alongside one of her colleagues in the regional competition this past spring. While she didn’t win, her ability to excel against her competitors earned her Soldier of the Year (Battalion and State), Service Person of the Year from the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), and Missile Defender of the Year (Missile Defense Alliance Advocacy).

She was the first female to win Soldier of the Year in the Alaska Army National Guard.

SPC Gonsalves is a proud Guard Soldier who finds gratification in her everyday routine. Whether she’s called to maintain traffic control points, assist with natural disaster relief, or aid other parts of the country, she’s always prepared and ready to fulfill the mission at hand, alongside a team of 300 Soldiers.

“You are part of a team of 300 that protects 300 million,” she says proudly.

SPC Gonsalves has sound advice for those interested in joining the Army National Guard: “Consider what line of job you’d like to do and go for it! Know that there are a lot of opportunities in the Guard, and the Guard will not let you down.”

If you’re looking for your dream job with benefits like education assistance, insurance, and the ability to serve close to home, explore available opportunities in the Army National Guard today. Whether you’re into technology, logistics, or ground forces careers, you’re bound to find the one that’s right for you. Browse the job board and contact a recruiter to learn how you can make a difference in your country and your community.

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Guard Soldier Finds Best of Both Worlds in Music and the Military

As a kid, Sergeant (SGT) Nicholas Rossetti loved music. He always listened to it with his family, and once his sister picked up an instrument, he knew he wanted to play one too.

In third grade, he received his first drum set and learned to play by listening to music, drumming along whether it sounded good or not, and taking lessons. By the end of elementary school, he had a good grasp of the fundamentals and continued playing in bands throughout middle and high school as a percussionist.

SGT Rossetti plays drums at a concert with the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire.

Not only was he passionate about music, but he had always wanted to be in the military. In high school he wanted to do Junior ROTC, but his music career took center stage. It wasn’t until one day during his junior year that the two worlds collided, when an active duty Navy rock band played a concert at his school.

“I was blown away,” he recalls.

This was the moment he realized that he could combine his love of music with his love of the military, but as he reached his senior year, he started thinking about college and careers. He didn’t believe it was possible to make a living off of being a musician, and after graduating, life took him in a different direction.

His band director said to him, “You’re making a mistake, you’re really going to miss playing music.”

SGT Rossetti ignored the advice, and after a year of business school, he realized he missed being in a band.

One day as he was walking to class, he saw an Army National Guard recruiter tent on campus, with a sign that read: “Play Music in the Military with the National Guard!”

Once he learned that he could be in a band again, serve part-time in the military, continue his education, and stay home with his family, he enlisted.

“It was just the best of every single aspect I wanted,” he recalls.

As he became acclimated to his new lifestyle, he fell in love with Army culture.

“I joined to play music, and now I love more about the Army than just music,” he boasts. “It’s opened up a whole new slew of opportunities, experiences, and passions that I love.”

In 2018, SGT Rossetti competed in the Best Warrior Competition and won at the State level. He attended regionals in New York, and while he didn’t take the title, he got the opportunity to attend Air Assault school, a physically demanding 10-day training course with a reputation for being one of the tougher military programs to complete.

SGT Rossetti poses for the camera during a ruck march in the 2018 State-level Best Warrior competition.

He felt like the underdog of his class, training alongside a handful of rough and tough infantrymen, with one goal in mind – to prove that a bandsman was just as capable as any other Soldier.

“That’s all I’ve wanted to do since getting here, is just crush that typical band reputation. We’re just as capable, just as strong, and just as smart as everyone else.”

To his surprise, he received his wings as an honor grad at the top of his class.

Back home, SGT Rossetti gets to live out his dream as a 42R Army Bandperson in the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire. Throughout the year, the band tours the State and plays a variety of events including holiday concerts, a summer concert series, and school concerts, to name a few. This past 4th of July, the 39th played a concert for the public in Dover, N.H., before a ceremonial fireworks display.

SGT Nicholas Rossetti is a percussionist in the 39th Army Band of New Hampshire.

For the rest of the summer, the band will continue playing shows at parks, town halls, and other local venues.

SGT Rossetti’s been given endless experiences and opportunities in the Guard and wouldn’t trade them for anything. He’s traveled abroad to the Bahamas and El Salvador, he’s made lifelong friends, and he gets to make an impact on others. He has an immense amount of pride in what he does.

“There’s nothing more fulfilling than putting that uniform on, being in the National Guard, and knowing you have a whole entire family of Guardsmen by your side.”

Camaraderie was always something SGT Rossetti cherished when he played music as a teenager, but once he joined the New Hampshire Army National Guard, he found an everlasting family of Soldiers who would do anything for each other.

“It’s really just the best of both worlds. If you enjoy camaraderie of bands, playing with incredible musicians, playing gigs – it’s a no brainer joining the Army National Guard.”

If you’re looking for a way to pursue your passions, explore all that the Army National Guard has to offer. Whether you’re into aviation, engineering, or cyber, to name a few, there’s something for everyone. Not only will you be able to live out your dreams, but you’ll get access to benefits like tuition assistance, insurance benefits, and more. Browse current openings on the job board today, and contact a recruiter for more information on how you can serve.

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Guard Soldier’s Service Inspired by Dad, Destiny, and Girl in a Grocery Store

Not long after immigrating to Indiana from her native Honduras, a young Arely Elrod encountered a “beautiful girl in a uniform” at a grocery store.

It wasn’t a military dress uniform, just your everyday fatigues, but the pre-teen was transfixed. She hadn’t realized that girls could be Soldiers.

Initially, Arely’s mother dismissed her daughter’s interest in the military as a phase. No – her daughter was destined to be an attorney, a doctor, or an engineer. But Arely felt a stronger pull toward a career in discipline that never really let go.

Now 32, Corporal (CPL) Elrod proudly wears a uniform as part of the Indiana Army National Guard.

“When I put that uniform on I feel alive. I feel like I belong somewhere.”

That somewhere can be elbow deep in an engine compartment – she’s a 91L Construction Vehicle Repairer – or singing in front of a crowd of thousands as part of the Indiana National Guard’s ceremonial unit.             

Before joining the Guard, CPL Elrod had enlisted in the Army in 2008 after trying to make it in L.A. in modeling, acting, and music.

“I wanted to get out of my comfort zone. Modeling is easy for me. I wanted to do something that was unexpected. I wanted to explore the world and see what I have to offer this earth, what I have to offer this country.”

CPL Arely Elrod (formerly Rosario) of the Indiana Army National Guard.

CPL Arely Elrod (formerly Rosario) of the Indiana Army National Guard.

Working as a mechanic on heavy machinery like bulldozers was both an unexpected choice for the 5-foot-1, self-described “girly” Soldier, and far outside her comfort zone.

“The only thing I had done to a car before was drive it, and I barely knew how to put gas in it.”

After a tour in Afghanistan, where she lost some friends, CPL Elrod came back to the States, got the therapy she needed to deal with her combat experiences, got married, moved to Florida, left the Army, and had a son.

When her marriage ended, she moved back to Indiana to go to law school, but found out it wasn’t for her. Plus, she missed the camaraderie of being in the military.

She signed on with the Guard on March 7, 2016 – a date she knows by heart.

“It’s the day I decided to take my life into my own hands and into my destiny,” she says. “I wanted to remind myself how strong I was. I picked up what I remembered and joined the National Guard. It has been the ride of a lifetime.”

As part of the Indiana Army National Guard’s ceremonial unit, CPL Elrod, pictured with her husband, John, and her son, Louie, has sung at many high-profile sporting events including an Indianapolis Colts game.

As part of the Indiana Army National Guard’s ceremonial unit, CPL Elrod, pictured with her husband, John, and her son, Louie, has sung at many high-profile sporting events including an Indianapolis Colts game.

CPL Elrod takes satisfaction in knowing that her mechanical expertise keeps her fellow Soldiers safe, but what she really loves is performing in the ceremonial unit. She has sung at events ranging from retirement ceremonies for 30 people to sporting events like the Indianapolis 500, and Indianapolis Colts and Indians games.

“It’s my passion and being able to combine both things – what I love to do with music, and being able to support my State and country – that’s the best combination to me.”

The flexibility of serving part-time with the Guard also gives her time to pursue other interests. CPL Elrod and her husband recently started a maintenance, cleaning, and landscaping business, and on the side, she does makeup and microblading.

CPL Elrod says she felt destined to do something in a field that involves discipline and to be of service, traits instilled in her by her father who had passed away before the family left Honduras.

“My biological father was so loving, so selfless. He did more for others than he did for himself.”

Besides volunteering in Indianapolis to impress upon her son how blessed their family is, she wants to serve her community in a new way by becoming a police officer.

She’ll find out in December if she’s accepted by the academy.

“Because of the skills I’ve learned in the military, I’ve passed everything with flying colors – my physical, my written exams, and my oral exams.”

If it doesn’t work out, she wouldn’t mind exploring a medical career instead and moving up the ranks in the Guard.

“I’m always looking for things I can do,” she says.

So, if you’re looking to leave your comfort zone behind and serve something bigger than yourself, consider joining the Army National Guard, which offers great education benefits and careers in fields like engineering, aviation, armor and field artillery, and transportation. Contact your local recruiter for more information.

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