There are some that were born to lead, born to serve…they know early on that someday they will join the military. As a younger girl, I used to think periodically about joining the Air Force, but more than anything I wanted to be a singer someday. I didn’t grow up shooting guns and training myself to be physically fit-I grew up in the country, picking wildflowers and playing Barbies with my cousins. I can count on two hands the times I’ve been in hand-to-hand combat situations. As combat-ready as the Army is, I never believed I would be a part of it.
Choosing the National Guard also didn’t happen for me at a young age, while at my physical best. I am 28 years old, and I am physically in the worst shape I have ever been in! You see, this choice had nothing to do with my prior plans-this isn’t something I’d been preparing for!
I was on campus one day, heading to my second class of the day, and I ran across a table that had been set out for the National Guard. I grabbed a pamphlet from the table and moved on, but once alone I couldn’t stop thinking of all the benefits of joining the military, particularly the Guard, because I’d made a commitment, a plan if you will-I intended to go to community college for my Assoc. and then work on obtaining my Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology..While in the Guard, I would be able to serve my country, make money, AND attend college!
I discussed the pros and cons of joining the Guard with several of my buddies that have been in the military. Many of them tried to convince me that Active Duty was the way to go, but I stuck to my guns-if I was going to join, the National Guard is what felt right for me. Eventually, I felt really good about having decided to join the Guard, and my recruiter ended up being the very man that had sat at that table on my campus.
If you have ever thought about joining the National Guard, and you actually believe it is too late (that you are past your “prime” before even reaching your thirties), I will be the first to tell you that you are wrong! You can whip that body back into shape! And if you have considered joining but you feel as if you lack certain skills/knowledge, don’t let that hold you back! That’s what training is for! You don’t have to have all the tools you need to be a Warrior from the start, but you do need to have the character required-
Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. constitution, the Army, and other soldiers.
Be loyal to the nation and its heritage.
Fulfill your obligations.
Accept responsibility for your own actions and those entrusted to your care.
Find opportunities to improve oneself for the good of the group.
Rely upon the golden rule.
How we consider others reflects upon each of us, both personally and as a professional organization.
Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.
Selfless service leads to organizational teamwork and encompasses discipline, self-control and faith in the system.
Live up to all the Army values.
Do what is right, legally and morally.
Be willing to do what is right even when no one is looking.
It is our “moral compass”; an inner voice.
Our ability to face fear, danger, or adversity; both physical and moral courage.
These are the Seven Army Values.
Something within those values needs to be apply to you-take a second to look at them and ask yourself which of those values means the very most to you, and I bet the one you choose is the closest to the reason why you would consider joining. For example, the most important to me is Honor, because I feel that each of those values is centered around Honor. And while all the benefits of the Guard are excellent, and while it is what works for where I am in life (my responsibilities and just how I can serve), deep in my heart I’ve made the decision to join because I honor my freedom, and I accept that it comes with a price. I honor my nation, and I honor the citizens of my state.
So just know, I’m just a country girl with no previous military history/background. There are soldiers beside me that have always known they would wind up in the military, and there are soldiers beside me who simply possessed the desire and the character, and we are all training to become the Warriors this nation needs…and so can you!
If you don’t know what the National Guard can do for you, here’s a little info (but feel free to also search nationalguard.com for more info):
Education Benefits and Skills Training
Montgomery G.I. Bill for Selected Reserve – The MGIB-SR allows you attend school full-time while serving in the Reserve or National Guard and get over $10,000 for school in addition to your paycheck and any other educational benefits you may be eligible to receive.
Reserve Officer Training Corps – Through ROTC, the Army offers merit-based scholarships. In addition to tuition and fees, the Army pays ROTC students a monthly allowance for living expenses.
Tuition Assistance – You can be reimbursed up to 75% of tuition costs for up to 15 credit hours per fiscal year.
Loan Repayment Program – The Guard can help soldiers pay off student loans, if they attended schools on an approved Perkins, Stafford or other Department of Education Guaranteed Student Loan. Soldiers can qualify to have their loan repaid at the rate of 15% of the loan for each year of reserve duty, up to a maximum loan repayment of $20,000, depending on Military Occupational Specialties.
Education and Learning Facilities – Most Army posts have education counselors who help soldiers identify their goals and determine how best to reach them within the Army Continuing Education System. Counseling services include academic and vocational planning, testing, college application processing and financial aid advice.
Foreign Languages – Most Army Education Centers on major posts have language labs where you can study new languages.
College Credit-by-Exam – Members of the Guard can also take advantage of free College Level Examination Program tests (CLEP). For every test you pass on a particular subject, you can earn up to six transferable college credits.
If you would like to know how the National Guard has changed my life since I joined, don’t be afraid to ask/message me!
Choosing the National Guard is a big decision, but it’s one that will turn your life around for the better-and I’m always excited to see my family of Warriors grow, so if you choose the Guard please let me know! And if you’re already in it-Hooah!
For more info, please visit: Army National Guard