Tracing its roots to the early colonial militias of the 1600s, the National Guard has evolved significantly over the centuries. It has played a pivotal role in every major American conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, its core capacity to serve local communities has never changed.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at three crucial roles the National Guard plays in our communities.

1. Disaster Response and Relief

When natural disasters strike, the National Guard is often among the first to respond, saving countless civilian lives. Their rapid mobilization capabilities allow them to provide immediate assistance to communities facing crises such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and earthquakes.

The Guard's presence brings not only manpower and equipment but also a sense of security and hope to affected areas. Their ability to quickly deploy and operate under challenging conditions makes them an indispensable asset during these critical times, helping to stabilize situations that could otherwise spiral out of control.

The National Guard's search and rescue operations are a testament to their bravery and skill. Whether it's navigating floodwaters to rescue stranded families, digging through the rubble of a collapsed building, or airlifting individuals from remote locations, the Guard's personnel are trained to handle a variety of rescue scenarios.

But the job doesn't stop there. After a disaster, their role shifts from immediate response to long-term reconstruction and rehabilitation. Members work tirelessly alongside local authorities and organizations to rebuild infrastructure, restore essential services, and help communities recover from the devastation.

2. Health and Medical Support

In times of crisis, such as the pandemic, the National Guard's emergency medical services are a lifeline for communities facing dire situations. Guard units are equipped with medical personnel and resources that can be deployed to supplement overwhelmed local healthcare systems. Their swift action in setting up field hospitals, providing triage, and delivering medical care is crucial in preserving the health and well-being of affected populations, ensuring that no one is left without access to essential medical services.

Beyond emergency response, the National Guard also engages in ongoing healthcare programs and assistance. These programs aim to improve the overall health landscape of local communities, particularly in underserved areas. Initiatives may include health screenings, vaccination drives, and public health education campaigns, all of which contribute to a healthier populace. The Guard's involvement in these programs demonstrates their role not just as responders, but as proactive agents of health and wellness within the community.

3. Training and Expertise Sharing

Training local first responders is an essential service provided by the National Guard, ensuring that communities have skilled professionals ready to handle emergencies. The Guard offers specialized training programs that cover a range of skills, from emergency medical techniques to disaster response strategies. By sharing their knowledge and experience, the Guard enhances the capabilities of local emergency services, which is vital for the safety and security of the community.

The National Guard's role in sharing military expertise with community agencies extends beyond traditional emergency response. Their personnel often provide insights into logistics, communications, and coordination, which are critical in managing complex situations. This transfer of knowledge helps community agencies to operate more effectively, whether they're planning large public events or improving their readiness for potential crises.

The National Guard's presence is a cornerstone of strength for countless communities. Their unique ability to operate both as a military force and a community service provider allows them to address a wide range of needs, from disaster response to youth development and public health. As challenges evolve and new threats emerge, the Guard will no doubt continue to adapt and expand its capabilities to meet the needs of the nation.


February is Black History Month — an important time to recognize and honor the profound contributions and sacrifices of African Americans throughout our nation's history. Despite the immeasurable hardships and discrimination they've faced in a country that had, until around 60 years ago, denied their rights as citizens, African American soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have continually shown exceptional valor and resilience both on and off the battlefield.

This year, to celebrate and honor our nation's Black service members, we'd like to take a look back at their heroic journeys throughout history, shedding light on their often unsung stories.

The History of African Americans in the Military

From the very inception of the United States of America, Black service members have demonstrated an unwavering commitment, courage and determination to defend the nation. In fact, they've answered the call of duty to serve and sacrifice in every single U.S. war, from the Revolutionary War through Iraq and Afghanistan.

As we commemorate the enduring legacy of African Americans in the military, let's trace their remarkable history from the 1700s to the modern day.

The Revolutionary War

Beginning prior to the Revolutionary War, both free and enslaved Black people rose up against the British during the Boston Massacre. In fact, Crispus Attucks is considered to be the first casualty of the revolution, bravely leading the protest before the tragedy transpired.

Following the Boston Massacre, over 5,000 Black soldiers from all 13 colonies fought for the American cause, seeking the prospect of freedom from both the British and the colonists. Unfortunately, only about 20% of those who served were freed from their bonds.

The Civil War

While Black minutemen and soldiers served in regiments throughout the later 1700s and early 1800s, it wasn't until 1863 that the U.S. government officially allowed African Americans to enlist in the armed forces. However, the Civil War was obviously a turning point for Black military history, as by the end of it, nearly 200,000 Black soldiers had served in the Union Army. Meanwhile, the Confederate Army had recruited a small group of Black soldiers toward the end of the war, but they wouldn't see combat before its end.

The Great Wars

By the time of World War I and World War II, the horrors of chattel slavery had ended, and Black Americans were quickly becoming a much larger part of the nation's military — despite continuing discrimination and segregation. To put it into perspective, the First World War saw over 380,000 African Americans serve in the army, while over 1 million Black men and women served in the second.

Fighting fascism on one front and racism on the other, Black service members demonstrated extraordinary courage and resilience, with legendary groups like the Tuskegee Airmen leaving an indelible mark on history.

Modern Military Diversity

In today's modern military, the landscape has significantly evolved. The U.S. military is continually committed to improving racial diversity and providing equal opportunities for all service members. And with each branch making a more proactive effort to recruit and train a diverse force of soldiers, sailors and airmen, the nation can not only strengthen its capabilities but also reflect the values of equality and inclusion that are so central to America.

Honoring Black Heroes

As we continue into Black History Month, and throughout the year, it's important to take the time to reflect on and commemorate the sacrifices and contributions African Americans have made in the line of duty. Their stories of bravery and determination inspire us all and remind us of the strength found in diversity and unity.



Behind every first responder is a family standing tall to support them. Though first responder families are often overshadowed by the flashing lights and sirens, they live lives of quiet bravery and resilience. From coping with constant worry over their loved one’s safety to managing the unpredictable nature of emergency work and its impact on the home, these families face their own set of challenges.

Today, we’d like to shine a spotlight on the experiences of first-responder families and share a few resources that can offer some much-needed support.

The Challenges of Being a First Responder Family

First, it’s important to understand the unique difficulties many family members face, including:

  1. Emotional Stress and Anxiety: Families of first responders often must grapple with ongoing worry and anxiety over their loved ones due to their occupational exposure to danger. Much like first responders have to deal with the unpredictability of emergency work, their family members are also unsure of what each day may bring.
  2. Long, Irregular Work Hours: The atypical and often extended working hours of first responders can also put a strain on first responders and their families. Long shifts that stretch into the nights can hinder family bonding time and disrupt routines and schedules. This often puts more responsibilities on spouses to manage the household alone.
  3. Limited Availability for Family: In addition to irregular and long working hours, the demanding nature of a first responder’s job means they often have to miss significant family events, such as birthdays, school functions, anniversaries and holidays. Their absence during these moments can lead to feelings of disappointment or even abandonment, especially for children.
  4. Physical Risk and Health Concerns: The inherent danger of being a first responder can bring constant worry about physical harm. Families often live with the fear of potential injury or worse, impacting their mental well-being, and exposure to hazardous and traumatic conditions can have long-term impacts on their loved ones.
  5. Financial Strain: Despite the essential nature of their work, many first responders and their families face financial stress, whether it’s from the rising cost of living or health care expenses in the case of injury or trauma. In the tragic event that a first responder passes in the line of duty, their family could be facing even greater financial distress on top of dealing with the grief. Fortunately, a wide array of support resources are available to first-responder families.

Helpful Resources for Supporting First Responders and Their Families

Here are a few resources to help first responders and their family members:

  • First Responders Support Network offers specialized retreats and mental health support for first responders and their families, focusing on recovery from traumatic stress and promoting well-being through peer support and education.
  • Hope for Emergency Responders Organization (HERO) is dedicated to providing support and resources and fostering a community of care and recognition for the mental and physical health of first responders and their families.
  • First Responders Children’s Foundation provides financial assistance and educational resources to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty and families facing hardship due to a first responder’s work-related trauma.
  • Family Survivor College Scholarship was established by AFBA to support the educational aspirations of the children of fallen first responders.
  • Financial and Legal Assistance offered by AFBA through various programs and organizations provides financial guidance and legal support to first-responder families, helping them navigate the complexities of financial planning, insurance and more.

At AFBA, we recognize the strength and courage of first responder families, and we’re here to help. Find out more about the support and resources available to our members.


Here's a fun fact: Did you know the National Guard is older than the Army and even the country?

December 13th, 2023 marks this military force's 387th birthday — a testament to its enduring legacy of service and sacrifice. As we celebrate this milestone, it's important to commemorate not just the history of the institution, but also the brave men and women who have served and safeguarded our nation for nearly four centuries.

Join us as we take a deeper dive into the history and significance of the U.S. National Guard.

When Was the National Guard Established?
Today, the National Guard includes both the Army National Guard as well as the Air National Guard. However, long before the invention of the airplane, the organization began as a colonial militia force, tracing its roots back to Massachusetts.

On December 13th, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony organized the 181st Infantry, the 182nd Cavalry, the 101st Field Artillery and the 101st Engineer Battalion to protect itself. These four regiments still stand as the oldest units in the U.S. military.

What About the Air National Guard?
While the National Guard is older than the Army, the Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force are actually the same age. That's because, prior to 1947, the two were part of the Army Air Corps (later changed to Army Air Forces during WWII). However, the National Security Act would officially separate the two branches on September 18th of that same year, eventually transferring the Army Air Forces units to the newly established Air National Guard as an aerial reserve component.

The Role of the National Guard
As a state-based military force, the National Guard plays a pivotal role in responding to domestic emergencies and natural disasters, as well as defending our country when necessary. They operate as a dual-purpose institution for both state and federal missions across U.S. states and territories — even deploying overseas. With diverse capabilities, from combat to humanitarian work, the National Guard is dedicated to responding to critical emergencies, preserving homeland security and supporting global peace efforts.

What Does it Mean to be Part of the National Guard?
While National Guard servicemembers are sometimes lampooned as "weekend warriors," this jab couldn't be further from the truth. Being a member of the National Guard carries an immense commitment to service, readiness and community. They may be citizen-soldiers, but they maintain a delicate balance of military duty with civilian work — all while undergoing rigorous training to prepare for times of crisis. That way, they're ready to defend, protect and serve the nation on a moment's notice.

Commemorating the National Guard's Birthday
The National Guard's birthday isn't a national holiday, nor is it a free day off of work or school. However, that doesn't mean the day isn't celebrated. Many servicemembers make a point to commemorate December 13th to honor military heritage as well as the sacrifice of their brothers and sisters in arms. One common event is the cake-cutting ceremony, in which the oldest member of a Guard unit and the youngest cut a large cake to share with everyone. Some units might also host local celebrations, gathering with other members of the Guard and the larger community.

Recognizing 387 Years of Service and Sacrifice
While there won't be any fanfare or parades this December 13th, civilians can still honor the National Guard's birthday by attending community events and expressing their gratitude toward those who have served. Taking the time to hear their stories, learn about their contributions, and actively support veterans and their families is a meaningful way to recognize their sacrifices and perhaps the best way to celebrate this observance.



What led up to the Declaration of Independence? Yes, it certified America as being independent of Britain, but influential thinkers like John Adams — who was initially considered a radical for wanting complete separation — didn’t become mainstream until Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” publication. This piece will explore the development of how the idea of full independence came to be.

King George’s mercilessness shaped later public opinion

At the very beginning of the Revolution, most colonists didn’t want independence from Britain, but reconciliation. Still feeling loyal to King George III and Britain but opposed to the extreme taxes and unfair laws imposed upon them, they wanted to make a deal with the king and return as British citizens.

John Adams was one of the first individuals who called for full independence — to make America its own nation and government. However, he and others who thought like him were unable to change the majority opinions of the colonists — for a time.

Public sentiment started to shift as King George III ramped up his efforts to eliminate the rebels. When news of his intentions reached the colonies, the ideals of Adams and other “radicals” rapidly became more popular.

However, even this wasn’t the turning point. Many conservatives still held on to the idea that reconciliation was possible. The notion that America should be fully independent only became cemented in the majority of colonists’ minds after Thomas Paine published a pamphlet titled “Common Sense.”

"The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."“The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”

“Common Sense” and its influence

Thomas Paine’s 47-page “Common Sense” pamphlet was published in Philadelphia in January 1776. Within it, Paine illustrated a passionate ideal for American exceptionalism. Believing America represented a “promise” that could only be achieved through total independence and separation between Americans and Britains, he laid out his case that this was the only natural option.

“Common Sense” was immensely popular. Its ideas influenced a massive number of colonists and galvanized support for the Revolution. By the time the Revolutionary War ended, it had sold about 500,000 copies — an astronomical number for its time. The publication would even influence some parts of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Jumping back to 1776, the Continental Congress soon adopted Paine’s idea of separating from Britain and forging a new nation. On July 2, about seven months after Paine’s publication was released, Congress held a vote on declaring independence. The Declaration of Independence was ratified on the 4th and America became its own nation.

Thomas Paine’s humble beginnings belied his impact on history

Born in Thetford, England in 1737, Thomas Paine had little formal education and was plagued by a series of job failures and tragedies.

His luck would pick up when he met Benjamin Franklin in the spring of 1774. Offering Paine a letter of introduction so he could start a new life there, Franklin suggested he move to the American colonies. In November, Paine would arrive in Philadelphia and soon began editing the Pennsylvania Magazine. It was here he wrote a series of pieces following his ideals.

While nothing he wrote came anywhere near the influence of “Common Sense,” Paine wrote other essays and pamphlets. These included “The Age of Reason” and “Rights of Man,” which discussed religion’s role in society and a defense of the French Revolution, respectively. Another example proving he was well ahead of his time is “African Slavery in America,” a piece condemning the slave trade.

Celebrate the history of America’s independence this July 4th

America may never have been its own nation without the ideals and philosophies of people such as John Adams and Thomas Paine. This Independence Day, be grateful that these immensely influential and historically invaluable individuals helped bring you the liberty you have today.



If you’re a servicemember, veteran, dependent or any other eligible type of passenger, you may qualify for free accommodations on Space-A flights if a vacancy is available.

What is a Space-A flight?

Space-A stands for space-available flight and is also referred to as military hopping. If a Department of Defense (DoD) aircraft has vacancies when traveling between air bases, eligible persons may fill these seats at no charge, according to the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. The purpose of Space-A is to give certain types of people the freedom to travel on flights that have vacancies.

Space-A flights can be on commercial airplanes, but they might also be on fuel tankers or cargo aircraft.

"The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."“The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.”

The different categories of travelers

Depending on who you are and the reason for your travel, you’re placed in one of six categories. When Space-A considers who gets priority when someone requests to fill a vacancy, the lower categories get picked first. Here are the different categories and what they might include:

Category 1: Emergency leave travel

The emphasis here is on the word “emergency.” People who might qualify for this category include DoD civilian employees who are stationed overseas or full-time American Red Cross employees serving in a military capacity.

Category 2: Accompanied environmental and morale leave (EML)

This might include DoD Dependent School (DoDDS) teachers on vacation or sponsors traveling for EML purposes.

Category 3: Ordinary leave, house hunting TDY

Those on ordinary leave or military members who are house hunting (following PCS orders) generally qualify for this rank.

Category 4: Unaccompanied dependents on EML

Family members on EML are in this tier. This also encompasses DoDDS teachers and their family members.

Category 5: Permissive TDY, students, dependents, post-deployment/mobilization respite absence

If their sponsor is stationed overseas or in Alaska or Hawaii, students fall into this group.

Category 6: Retirees, dependents, reservists and disabled veterans

This category would apply to these types of flyers on vacation, for example.

How to sign up for Space-A flights

Signing up for a Space-A flight is very different from booking a seat on a commercial aircraft. You won’t be using traditional airports or booking accommodation at all; instead, you’ll communicate with an Air Mobility Command (AMC) Passenger Terminal to reserve a spot.

These are instructions to keep in mind, according to AMC. More information can be found on their website.

  1. Ensure your eligibility. There are six categories of travel that determine your eligibility for Space-A, with lower categories getting higher priority. This includes emergency leave, unfunded travel, and accompanied or unaccompanied environmental and morale leave (EML). Which category you fall into depends on the reason behind your travel and your duty status.
  2. Check which locations are available. Review your closest AMC Passenger Terminal through their social media page or website.
  3. Make sure your documents are in order. Look at which travel documents you need to prepare before your flight. This includes your passport (with visas, if applicable).
  4. Register at an AMC Passenger Terminal.
  5. Look at flight schedules. There is a 72-hour flight schedule on the American Forces Public Information Management System (AFPIMS) web page.
  6. Check-in at the terminal counter. Familiarize yourself with any newly updated flight information and declare that you are present. If everything is in order, the terminal will give you a Space-A call when they’re ready for you to board.

Roam the skies for free with Space-A flights

While not everyone is eligible to ride on a Space-A flight under all circumstances, as long as you meet the basic requirements, you can take advantage of this perk. For more information, contact your nearest AMC passenger terminal.



In the military, you learn certain skills that stick with you throughout your life such as dedication, persistence, and attention to details. And that’s not even counting the specific job aptitudes you may have or learned while in the service.

A challenge veterans and their families often face when returning to civilian life is the transition to working in a non-military job. Thankfully, employers often appreciate those who have armed forces veteran status on their resumes. There are many businesses that specifically advertise to veterans and their families.

Here, we’ll go into a few of those employers that are currently looking for people from the armed forces
to work for them.


Amazon advertises its need for employees with veteran status and even provides a helpful cheat sheet. This can tell you how the specific skills you learned in the armed forces would translate to being an effective employee. By filling out details about your service, such as which branch you served in, your rank and the number of years you were active, they’ll match you for a certain position.

The enterprise also features military recruiting teams that hold virtual hiring events. There are also apprenticeships available that can teach you how to build a career in cloud computing, which should be attractive to those with IT experience. Amazon even offers a Military SkillBridge program designed to help you transition from military life to civilian life if you’re within 180 days of leaving the service.

The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

Capital One

Capital One claims to “value the service and sacrifice of our veterans, active military personnel and their families… accountability, collaboration, leadership and dedication make you a crucial member of our team.”

What special benefits do they have to appeal to veterans? Well, for starters, you can expect:

  • Military training and active duty time off. Capital One claims that you can take up to eight weeks for training or active duty if you’re called to serve during your employment at the company. They even offer a pay differential between your company salary and military pay after you come back to work.
  • Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP). As a partner of MSEP, Capital One offers advantages to the spouses of service members.
  • On-leave job security. If you need to go on leave for any reason, your job will be protected for a reasonable amount of time.
  • Secondary insurance in addition to your military benefits. Dental, vision, supplemental life coverage, flexible spending accounts and medical care are offered to veterans working for Capital One. If you’re on leave, these benefits persist.


As a top leader in the telecommunications, technology and networking industries, Cisco is always looking for bright new talent, especially those who have experience with these fields.

The company offers training for those early in their military transition back to civilian life, special programs and opportunities specifically for veterans, and connects service members and their families with jobs at Cisco and Cisco partners.

With a return to civilian life comes new opportunities just for you

These are just a handful of opportunities you can pursue as you return to civilian life. There are entire resources available just to help veterans find new careers as they transition back home. Some employers are better suited than others for service members, and many are actively looking for new employees with military experience.

If you’re in the armed forces and looking for work outside the military, why not give one of these opportunities a go? You may find it satisfying and rewarding.