MACON, Ga.– Soldiers from the South Carolina and Georgia Army National Guards came together to turn water samples from a murky lake into clear drinkable water during a training exercise last month.
The annual training event, Vigilant Guard 17, provides National Guard Soldiers an opportunity to create and improve relationships with different military and civilian agencies in case of an emergency. Part of the Guard’s mission is to respond to domestic emergencies like floods, hurricanes, and wildfires.
This year’s simulated scenario, a Category 3 hurricane, was relevant to the area considering the impact Hurricane Matthew had on the Southeastern United States in October 2016.
“We are reacting to a natural disaster that has affected this area, and we are working with the South Carolina National Guard to take water that isn’t clean and make it drinkable,” said SPC Shameka McCaskill, Alpha Co., 218th Brigade Support Battalion.
Training exercises like Vigilant Guard allow Soldiers to remain proficient in water purification. In a real-world situation, 92W Water Treatment Specialists are able to produce 1,500 gallons of potable water from fresh water and 1,200 gallons from salt water in an hour.
For more on what this type of exercise looks like, check out this video featuring Soldiers from the Georgia Army National Guard participating in a 2016 training exercise.
Some of the Soldiers participating in Vigilant Guard 17, including SPC McCaskill, have put their Guard skills to work in real-world situations, like during South Carolina’s historic flooding in 2015.
“We were activated for three weeks and during that time we traveled throughout the State, and brought clean drinking water to different communities,” she says. “What I do is important because we [Guard Soldiers] come fully prepared to provide something that everyone needs to live. Having clean water is critical during a natural disaster.
Another Soldier able to put her water purification skills to work outside of the exercise is SGT Martika Burnett, Alpha Co., 348th BSB, Georgia National Guard. When not activated or training with her Unit, Burnett is a licensed Class 3 surface water treatment officer. Partnering during Vigilant Guard provides her the opportunity to see how other States operate.
“I take what I learn here, and use it at work, and vice versa,” said SGT Burnett. “I was able to use the skills I gained in the Guard and turn it into a career.”
Because service in the Guard is typically part-time, Soldiers are able to pursue civilian careers that build on their Guard training in one of 150 careers. For specific career information, check out our job board, which can be searched by location, keyword, or job category, such as logistics, engineering or infantry.
From an original story by SGT Tashera Pravato, 108th Public Affairs Detach, which originally appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in March 2017