A Day to be Thankful for the New York National Guard

Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard’s 369th Sustainment Brigade, the legendary “Harlem Hellfighters,” prepare holiday meals at Manhattan’s Jacob Javits Center for shipment and delivery to city distribution sites. (Photo by Col. Raymond Shields, New York National Guard)

The following is part of an article is written by Col. Richard Goldenberg of the
New York National Guard:

As Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, more than 1,100 members of the New York National Guard continue their support of Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts or augment New York City
law enforcement at transportation centers for the single largest travel day in the nation.

Nearly 900 Guard Soldiers continue to support recovery operations in New York City, conducting door-to-door wellness checks in Far Rockaway. The National Guard, working in partnership with local authorities, visited more than 850 residences to assess local needs.

Other Soldiers will assist in the delivery of holiday meals to storm-affected families at 14 distribution centers as well as logistical support to city relief centers on Staten Island and Far Rockaway.

More than 250 other members of the New York National Guard’s standing security force in New York City, known as Joint Task Force Empire Shield, returned to their security duties this week after three weeks of rescue and storm recovery efforts.

New York has had National Guardsmen on duty full-time in New York City assisting with security since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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Military Friendly Employers – ESGR Looking for Nominations

Every year the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) selects the top employers in the nation to receive a “Patriot Award” for hiring military service members, their spouses and for developing  supportive policies for members of the National Guard and Reserves.

Service members can nominate their employer online HERE.

Military spouses can also nominate their employer online HERE.

All that’s needed is to explain why your employer deserves to be recognized at the local, state and possibly national level. The local ESGR committee reviews the explanations when selecting nominees for higher-level awards.

Every employer nominated will receive a Patriot Award certificate and accompanying lapel pin. Some examples of what supportive employers do:

  • Participates in ESGR programs like a Statement of Support signing.
  • Sponsors a company Guard & Reserve recognition day.
  • Features Guardsmen and Reservists on Company bulletin boards, in newsletters or at meetings.
  • Maintains contact with Guard & Reserve employees while they are on annual training or mobilized.
  • Has a published military mobilization policy.
  • Provides pay differential during periods of military training.
  • Provides pay differential during mobilizations.
  • Provides paid military leave.
  • Provides continuation of insurance and monetary benefits during mobilizations.

You can learn more about the ESGR Patriot Awards HERE.

 

Dual Commanders Named for Hurricane Irene Response

Image of Hurricane Irene from Saturday. Photo courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

Hurricane Irene is the first natural disaster that the Department of Defense is implementing its “dual commander concept.” The idea is to ensure that state and federal military forces work effectively together to avoid duplication of effort, and provide the life-saving capabilities that governors request according to a DoD news release.

Others may be appointed in the coming days, but the initial list of dual-status commanders appointed by the state governors and the Department of Defense is:

Brig. Gen. James Trogden III, North Carolina Army National Guard;

Brig. Gen. Carolyn Protzmann, New Hampshire Air National Guard;

Brig. Gen. Michael Swezey, New York Army National Guard; and

Col. Donald Lagor, Rhode Island Air National Guard.

The dual-status commanders – with the agreement of the DoD and governors – can direct both federal active-duty forces and state National Guard forces in response to domestic incidents.

The dual-status commander concept was formulated in 2009. In March 2011, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the bipartisan 10-member Council of Governors adopted the “Joint Action Plan for Unity of Effort,” strengthening support to governors when they request military assistance for disaster response.

Panetta Puts Troops on Standby for Hurricane Irene

 

With about 101,000 National Guard members ready to assist eastern seaboard states in Hurricane Irene’s path, the National Guard Command Center in Arlington, Va., seen here Aug. 26, 2011, is monitoring the storm and National Guard support to civilian authorities around the clock. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has issued a prepare-to-deploy order for 6,500 active-duty service members from all of the services to support hurricane relief efforts if ordered, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Saturday.

On requests from states for the department to provide hurricane relief assistance, Little added, it has taken the secretary an average of five to seven minutes to approve them.

U.S. Northern Command is coordinating the Defense Department’s support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and to state and local hurricane response efforts along the East Coast.

Northcom is now supporting 16 FEMA-requested mission assignments, command officials said.

Over the past 24 hours, the command has designated Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia as a FEMA federal staging facility for support to hurricane disaster operations in Virginia.

You can read the full American Forces Press Service story by Cheryl Pellerin HERE.

Volunteers Work to Find Reservists, Guardsmen Jobs

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Greg Holder will soon take on a volunteer post focused on finding jobs for National Guard members and Reservists and their family.

Many are concerned about finding a job in this economy, but it’s an even bigger battle for Florida’s Reservists and National Guard members returning from war. Their unemployment rate is around 20 percent versus about 11 percent for civilians in the state.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Greg Holder has 29 years military service on active duty and in the Reserves. And he’s concerned about Reservists and National Guard members because of their unemployment rate.

“It’s double our state percentage for the rest of the population,” Holder said. “These men and women sacrificed much to serve their country. They’re exposed to unbelievable conditions. They come back and often times their position has been eliminated as companies have downsized.”

On Oct. 1st, Holder will become the volunteer, state chairman of the Florida Employment Support for the Guard and Reserve, the ESGR. It’s an unpaid position with an organization that coordinates with the Department of Defense.

The Florida ESGR has about 100 active volunteers doing outreach with Reservists, Guardsmen and their families to help them understand their benefits, find jobs and advocate with employers to hire returning veterans.

As chairman of the ESGR, Holder plans to recruit more companies to hire veterans, especially Reservists and National Guard members. He said there’s a rich tradition of Florida companies supporting veterans and that this fall the Jacksonville-based railroad company, CSX, will receive a national award for its program to hire veterans.

Changes in Post 9-11 GI Bill for Veteran Students

Student veterans using the Post 9-11 GI Bill need to know that there are changes to the benefits and many take effect this week according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The following is from Vantage Point, the VA blog:

Why the changes?

Education benefits are now available for folks in the National Guard that accumulated active duty time under Title 32, and expands options for non-degree seeking students, like flight school and apprenticeships. That change puts education benefits into the hands of tens of thousands of Veterans. But to allow more Veterans to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill (also known as Chapter 33), concessions had to be made to pay for it. Two changes to Chapter 33 will impact just about every student Veteran, and another change will change the way private school students receive tuition payments.

Break pay ends, but eligibility is expanded

Most Veterans are concerned over the loss of break pay, which were payments made during the holiday break and on either side of a summer semester (if classes were taken in the summer). Up until now, VA paid housing stipends for those days out of class. It was a help to students that needed additional income to pay rent. But there’s a catch that not everyone knew about: Those days were subtracted from the GI Bill eligibility time of 36 months. Now, you can use that time for more education. In a four-year degree plan, that additional time could add up to a semester or more of education benefits. That means a semester more of tuition and housing stipends.

Housing payments are now prorated and private, out-of-state and foreign school tuition is capped. The new rules signed into law established a national maximum of $17,500 to be paid to private and foreign schools.

You can get details on all the changes on the VA blog Vantage Point.

The National Guard Looking for 1 Million Facebook Fans

National Guard Photo: MG Maria Britt, commanding general, Georgia National Guard, looks through the sights of an M119A2 howitzer during a visit to the 1-118th Field Artillery Annual Training.

A nod to Milblogging.com for passing the word along. The National Guard is closing in on 1 million fans on its Facebook Page.

When the Marines were nearing 1 million, I posted it on this blog to encourage those so inclined to sign on and hit the Like button.

Now, here’s an opportunity to help the National Guard hit that magic mark. As of Sunday evening, the Guard’s Facebook page had more than 956,000 fans. Milblogging.com estimated it would take until September to hit 1 million. Obviously that will come sooner if you respond and get your friends, family, work colleagues and others to do the same.

“Always ready, always there” is the mission of this nation’s oldest military branch that serves states and the federal government. The Guard has played a key role in both Afghanistan and Iraq and suffered losses. Becoming a fan on their Facebook page is one small way to acknowledge their sacrifice.

You can follow the popularity of each military branch on Facebook Pages Leaderboard.

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