Citizen Soldier – National Guard and Reserves
The citizen soldier, sailor, marine, airman, and coastie. When most people think of the military, they mainly think of active duty service members. It’s astonishing that 38 percent of the United States armed forces is made up of National Guard members and reservists. In fact, there are over 450,000 of them serving today. They serve in every capacity that an active duty member does. They come from all walks of life; many National Guard members and reservists are full-time police officers, firemen, teachers, etc. They come from every state and territory of the United States.
Citizen Soldiers Dedication and Commitment
There has been a huge misconception that the citizen soldier National Guard and reserves are a barbecue and beer club that gets together once a month and two full weeks a year. The National Guard and reserves were different many years ago than they are today. Their dedication and commitment is the same or even greater than for active duty service members. Guards and reservists perform the same tasks and fight in the same battles that active duty members do. They have to be ready at a moment’s notice to deploy for overseas duty or even be activated for state emergencies. They spend a lot of their off-duty time completing required military tasks and most of these are unpaid online courses. There are actually many active guards and reservists. They are recruiters, supply sergeants, trainers, readiness NCOs, battalion commanders, and sergeant majors.
National Guard and Reserves Role and Importance
Guards and reservists have spent as much time overseas as active duty soldiers. They have led battle in many parts of Afghanistan and Iraq. When you look at American history, some of the most important battles and wars have been fought and won by the national guard. Their heritage and tradition goes all the way back to the 1700s. There are many different units and brigades that make up the National Guard and reserves. They have some of the best soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen of the armed forces. Many stand out to me, but just a few are the 101st Engineer Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 181st Infantry Regiment, and the 182nd Infantry Regiment. All of these are from Red Sox country in Massachusetts. Then there is the 37th Infantry Brigade from Ohio who has many medal of honor recipients past and present. Another is the 116th Infantry Brigade from Virginia. There is so much history in the National Guard and reserves. They are filled with veterans and current members serving that have been in every war and battle we have fought.
No Different than Active Duty
The guards and reservists are no different than active duty service members, and actually, their duties are often more difficult. They serve their country in the same capacity that an actual active duty member all while maintaining a civilian occupation. The strain on guards and reservists is greater than on an active duty member. They must be ready to deploy for duty in a moment’s notice. This becomes difficult for their families and their employers. Some will actually make less money while deployed or on duty than they do in their civilian job. They will leave their families depending on their spouse or children to take over their duties while deployed.
Typically for citizen soldier members of the National Guard, a deployment will last a year or more, and for branches such as the Navy and Air Force, a deployment lasts a minimum of 6 months. There has always seemed to be an old saying “they’re just National Guard or reserves.” Most of this comes from active duty members. However, over 65 percent of the National Guard and reserves have been active duty members prior to becoming a member of the National Guard and reserves. They will perform their MOS jobs while deployed or even take on a different mission and perform their duties with the same dedication and pride as an active duty member.
You deserve a large thank you from active duty members current, past, and present. You have done your jobs and represented your country with pride and professionalism. Your sacrifices have been overwhelming. You have preserved and protected your country’s freedom throughout history. You have been there in the trenches and on the battlefield just the same as an active duty service member. Thank you all for the service and sacrifice that you, your families, and your employers have made. You have had to leave behind so much to serve your country.