George Washington is quoted as saying, “We need chaplains” while addressing the Continental Congress before the service was formally established on July 29th, 1775. That means U.S. Army chaplains have been around since before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
During the Revolutionary War, they acted as spiritual leaders to help inspire and motivate soldiers. Little has changed since then. The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps (DACH) still serves a critical role in the daily functions of the Army by providing religious and moral support.
Every year since its birthday, the anniversary of the DACH is celebrated. This July 29th, you can use the opportunity to acknowledge the exemplary work of the DACH in your own way.
Here, we’ll discuss the DACH”s mission and how you can potentially become a chaplain.
What does the DACH do?
The primary purpose behind the DACH is to offer support to the U.S. Army. This is usually religious support for a wide range of faiths, but they also help those who do not subscribe to any particular religion. This can include counseling, church services or other moral support. They also:
- Serve in correctional or medical facilities or combat hospitals.
- Offer family or marriage counseling.
- Can act as instructors in officer service schools.
Some chaplains choose to further their training and education to prepare them for higher-level work. This could mean taking on staffing responsibilities, handling personnel-related tasks, or being involved in financial and logistical duties.
The DACH never stops working. In peacetime or war, whether soldiers are deployed or at home, chaplains are always there to offer their services. They understand that servicemembers have a near-infinite variety of backgrounds, and they aim to help all who could benefit.
Army chaplains aren’t restricted in what type of unit they serve. Intelligence, infantry, community ministries, hospitals — you will find chaplains in all these places.
Considered non-combat personnel, chaplains are supported by religious affairs specialists. In addition to organizing worship services and religious programs, these specialist troops have administrative duties and must act as an armed guard to ensure chaplains’ safety in combat situations.
How do you become an Army chaplain?
Chaplains serve a vital purpose in their units, meaning they must undergo extensive education and training programs to prepare themselves for such great responsibilities. They’re treated as Army officers and receive all the privileges other officers have.
Unlike some other Army positions, Army chaplains must have formal higher education: at least a bachelor’s degree. In some cases, graduating college seniors can enlist.
An endorsement from the applicant’s faith group is necessary, as is being enrolled full-time in an accredited graduate program that can qualify them for ordination.
Another challenge is the Chaplain Candidate Program (CCP). Ministry students may begin this training while they’re still in school.
Chaplains are exempt from Basic Combat Training (BCT) but still undergo physical tests to build strength and endurance. Chaplains must pass the Chaplain Basic Officer Leader Course (CHBOLC): In addition to requiring an adequate level of fitness, this course trains chaplains academically and spiritually.
Celebrate the anniversary of the Chaplain Corps this July 29
The DACH has had nearly 250 anniversary celebrations during its lifetime, and they’ve remained a core part of many Army units. On July 29th, show your appreciation for the DACH and its role in providing religious support to every soldier.
Throughout the history of civilization, there have been countless women who have helped shift the world. Women’s History Month is to be celebrated once again this March, and this year we focus on this accomplished woman who changed the U.S. Air Force forever.
The History of Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month has taken place each March since 1987. Originally conceived as National Women’s History Week, it was celebrated on the week of March 8, 1980, and recognized by President Jimmy Carter. The following year, it became a national occasion; six years later, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand it to the entire month of March.
International Women’s Day preceded Women’s History Month, which began as an international celebration on March 8, 1911. The United Nations started sponsoring it in 1975 and continues to this day.
Educational initiatives, demonstrations and presenting gifts and flowers to women are common occurrences during these times.
Kathy La Sauce, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel
Among many other accomplished women, Kathy La Sauce stands out for her groundbreaking military service.
“Don’t ever accept a barrier…talent can be both male and female.” This quote from La Sauce, the first woman to become an aircraft commander at Norton Air Force Base and pilot a C-141 Starlifter, encompasses the dedication many extraordinary women have shown in overcoming exceptional hurdles.
When La Sauce first joined the military in 1972 during the Vietnam War, she joined out of unreserved patriotism. Women weren’t allowed to fly then, and La Sauce knew this but wanted to do her part. She began in maintenance, as she was skilled in mechanical work. When the academies opened up to women in 1976, La Sauce was one of the first to enroll.
La Sauce graduated from Williams Air Force Base with one of the first classes of women graduates for the academy on Sept. 2, 1977. She was assigned to the 14th Military Airlift Squadron at Norton when she piloted the C-141 Starlifter, a massive cargo jet. She would end up logging over 3,000 hours in the plane.
She would later become the first woman to fly presidential support missions for the 89th Airlift Wing while piloting the VC-135 aircraft. She escorted the late first lady Barbara Bush off the flight line and met Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. She also has the distinction of escorting British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
La Sauce held the position of commander of the current-day 89th Aerial Port Squadron from 1988 to 1992. In total, she served 20 years in the Air Force before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Her class, designated 77-08, was noteworthy in itself for producing many women who would later earn notable military accomplishments alongside La Sauce. Some of them would go on to be inducted into the Women in Aviation, International Pioneer Hall of Fame in 2016.
You can find Lt. Col. La Sauce’s flight suit proudly exhibited at Norton Air Force Base Museum.
La Sauce was part of a greater movement to introduce women into the military, which had been a long time coming. The Women in the Air Force program began back in 1948, and after La Sauce retired, women started being seen as equals in the field.
Celebrate the accomplishments of women, both in and outside the military
Kathy La Sauce is just one of many women who helped shape the world as it is today. There are still many barriers to break through, but women have shown they will always step up to the challenge and fight to be second to none.
Educators, police officers and first responders all do invaluable work in protecting and enriching our communities. Many of us offer them our gratitude and respect for their selflessness, and we celebrate their contributions often as a way of saying thanks.
Unfortunately, while these individuals may be highly respected, many of them face challenges when trying to purchase homes of their own.
There may be hope on the horizon, however. Many in Congress are looking to the federal HELPER Act of 2021, as it shows promise as a way to assist these groups.
What is it?
The “Homes for Every Local Protector, Educator, and Responder Act of 2021” — or the HELPER Act of 2021 — aims to assist firefighters, law enforcement officers, elementary and secondary school teachers and other first responders by making housing more affordable for these groups.
The program, administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, would allow for an affordable one-time mortgage offer for people in these occupations. The mortgage would include no down payment and no monthly mortgage insurance premium.
There are criteria in the bill to determine eligibility, including:
- An adequate credit score.
- At least four years of continuous employment.
- Requires a 3.6% Mortgage Insurance Payment (MIP), which will vary depending on the size of the loan.
In addition, there is a five-year reauthorization plan, meaning the government has the power to revoke the Act after that period.
What does it mean for first responders?
If passed, the HELPER Act would help affected people purchase homes, though especially first-time homeowners.
First responders and other included populations often face hurdles when trying to buy a home, especially for the first time. This leaves people in these occupations unnecessarily stressed out.
The unique challenges these individuals face when buying a home come in two particular varieties:
Challenges affording the down payment on a home.
Typically, this is 10-20% of the home’s value. But because these groups all too often face their own challenges when buying a home, they can’t make the down payment in addition to mortgage payments and other necessities. The HELPER Act removes this requirement, which would surely take down one of the major barriers first responders and educators have to purchase homes.
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) requirements.
Usually, if you’re unable to deposit more than 20% of the home’s value upfront, you’re required to have PMI. The HELPER Act removes this requirement, which could potentially save people in these occupations several thousand dollars.
Will it pass?
Suppose the HELPER Act does pass, which looks promising, considering its near-universal support by both major political parties. Heroes such as first responders, educators and police officers will have a better chance of purchasing and owning their own homes without needing to worry about as many financial barriers. This could be game-changing for these occupations and could be a new way for Congress to show its appreciation for all the work they do, making our heroes feel more appreciated and secure by giving them a right to housing.
The first Veterans Day was observed on Nov. 11, 1919. First introduced by President Woodrow Wilson and originally called Armistice Day, it was a time meant to commemorate the anniversary of the end of World War I. President Dwight D. Eisenhower changed the holiday’s name to Veterans Day in 1954 to include all veterans, not only those who served in the first World War. Since its inception, the U.S. has continued to celebrate Veterans Day on Nov. 11 every year.
A World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks first came up with the idea to change the name and nature of Veterans Day to involve all servicemembers and their families. Weeks led a celebration of the first official Veterans Day in Alabama, and continued this tradition each year until his death in 1985.
There are two days of the year during which the Arlington National Cemetery holds a memorial service, Veterans Day being one of them (Memorial Day is the other). While similar in that they’re both days meant to honor the military, the key difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day is that the former honors both living and fallen veterans, whereas the latter is specifically for soldiers who have died.
Ideas for celebrating Veterans Day
How you choose to commemorate Veterans Day is up to you, but here are a few ideas to help get you started:
Adopt a military family
Many military families who have loved ones in the armed forces sometimes lack the resources to properly take care of themselves. This can be especially problematic for families with a deployed parent, limited income, or severely injured veterans. The Soldiers’ Angels charity foundation hosts an Adopt a Family program so you can offer support to military families in need. This can include gifts for children under 18 years of age and grocery gift cards.
Participate in the two-minute moment of silence
Every Veterans Day, there’s a special time set aside for observing the two-minute moment of silence in honor of servicemembers and their families. To ensure it takes place at the same time for everyone across the U.S., the exact time varies depending on your time zone. Here’s what time it begins in each region:
- 3:11 PM Atlantic Standard Time.
- 2:11 PM Eastern Standard Time.
- 1:11 PM Central Standard Time.
- 12:11 PM Mountain Standard Time.
- 11:11 AM Pacific Standard Time.
- 10:11 AM Alaska Standard Time.
- 9:11 AM Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time.
Visit a Veteran Memorial or Cemetery
We mentioned that Arlington National Cemetery holds a commemoration on Veterans Day that’s open to the public. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t visit other veteran memorials or cemeteries to pay your respects in your own way. While this might seem better suited to Memorial Day, there’s no reason you can’t show appreciation for both living and fallen veterans in a similar fashion. You can leave a small token on a gravestone if you like, or you can simply pay your respects for a few moments.
Participate in our Veterans Day social media campaign
Join us in creating a virtual Veterans Honor Wall by honoring and thanking those who have served and played an active role in protecting our great country. Here’s how you can participate:
- Print out the image.
- Write in the name of a veteran you want to honor.
- Share it on your feed.
- Don’t forget to share the image with us by tagging AFBA and using #AFBAHonorsVeterans.
You can also comment below with your veteran’s name, the branch of service, and an image if available. Use hashtags such as #AFBAHonorsVeterans, #VeteransDay and #VeteransDay2022.
In many ways, Electric Vehicles (EVs) are vastly superior to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. While it's true that they're environmentally friendly and arguably vital to stopping the damage to nature caused by carbon emissions, it's also a fact that EVs are very, very fast and comparatively much easier to maintain. This makes them superb vehicles for first responders.
With the planned switch to EVs comes some challenges, however, as these vehicles are wildly different from their predecessors in ways that first responders need to anticipate. A few companies are preparing for exactly that.
EVs are being introduced to the New York Police Department
What does a 480-horsepower all-electric police interceptor look like? It looks exactly like the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, the police interceptor version of which was presented in Apr. 2022 at the Javits Center for the New York International Auto Show.
With the advent of EVs and their colossal growth that's set to overtake sales of gasoline-powered vehicles as soon as 2025 by some estimates, the NYPD stepped up and purchased its first Tesla Model 3 EV to be used as a patrol vehicle in 2021. By the middle of Apr. 2022, New York City approved the purchase of 250 more. Now, intending to be carbon-neutral by 2050, NYC has begun an initiative to make its entire vehicle lineup completely electric by 2035 starting this year with the Mach-E GT.
Out of a variety of potential EV police interceptors, the Mach-E GT scored the highest for sheer acceleration — able to hit 60 mph from zero in 3.5 seconds — and braking. The Mach-E GT is capable of traveling 270 miles on a full charge with its 88 kWh battery pack.
GM is introducing an EV First Responder Training program
As part of GM's new EV lineup, which includes the Cadillac Lyriq, GMC Hummer EV, and Chevrolet Bolt, the company is advancing a training program for first responders to introduce them to the unique challenges that EVs hold in situations involving them.
For example, unlike traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, EVs place much of the weight in the vehicle at the bottom. This is where the battery pack is typically located, often weighing thousands of pounds. It's not just the redistributed weight that can make rescuing the people inside a challenge, it's also the sheer amount of energy that's stored in the battery pack.
The courses combine live presentations, virtual demonstrations, videos, and discussions from experts. GM encourages both first responders and owners of EVs to take advantage of its program.
GM isn't the only company involved in training first responders
In addition to GM's efforts, Tesla maintains a dedicated website intended for first responders. Its purpose is for "helping the fire departments and first responders safely handle emergency situations involving all Tesla products." Included are "emergency response guides" and "quick response sheets," individually produced for many of their vehicles.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) maintains its own Emergency Response Guides compiled from over 60 manufacturers for first responders to use as reference. From newer companies such as Lucid to established brands such as Ford and Jeep, all of its guides are free to download and readily available.
The advantages of EVs make them excellent vehicles for first responders both from a performance and maintenance standpoint. Nonetheless, while these benefits are numerous, there are still some challenges to overcome before they can become mainstream for first responder units. These groups need to be aware of the hazards and mechanical differences inherent to these cars and trucks to avoid unnecessary injury. Companies such as GM and Tesla as well as the NFPA are attempting to make the switch as seamless as possible so first responders can take advantage of these new vehicles.
First observed in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson as Hispanic Heritage Week and later broadened into 30 days and enacted into law by President Ronald Reagan Aug. 17, 1988, Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 every year. The month is a recognition and celebration of Hispanic people including those in the armed forces as well as first responders, as there are many unique and notable Hispanic service members, police, firefighters and paramedics all deserving of our honor.
Staff Sgt. Henry Meza: "He's going to be a soldier."
Staff Sgt. Henry Meza, a Honduran-born member of the Iowa National Guard, had the idea from a very young age that he was destined to serve. His grandmother used to say to friends and family, "He's going to be a soldier."
Growing up in his birthplace of Siguatepeque, Honduras, which had no electricity, Meza helped out with his family's coffee business by working on a farm. He regularly hauled 100-pound bags of coffee beans on his back at the age of 10. When he was 12, he immigrated to the U.S. to join his mother in New Jersey. Having been very active in school with track, wrestling and soccer, he earned a sports scholarship to Grand View University in Iowa. In 2012, he enrolled in the Iowa National Guard.
Meza found a special place in the National Guard's Service to Citizenship program, which helps relatives of young adults in the Guard become U.S. citizens. Meza, who gained citizenship in 2013, is well aware of how arduous the process can be without assistance from initiatives like these. Speaking of the program, he says diversity makes the National Guard more capable by connecting the military branch to different cultures and walks of life. When those people see others who share the same culture, they're more inclined to join the Guard, he says.
Sergeant Diana Munoz: The first Hispanic police sergeant in Greenville, S.C.
Diana Munoz knows that when first responders answer a call from a Hispanic family, they might be wary of trusting them. But when Munoz, who was born in Colombia, South America shows up, they're immediately put at ease.
A historic figure in Greenville, S.C., Munoz was the first Hispanic police sergeant to serve in the town's police department. As a supervisor, she's responsible for officers both in the Law Enforcement Center and when they're outside and on-duty.
Munoz hopes to one day be a police captain, though she acknowledges that she has a lot of work to do to reach that goal.
Joining Forces With the First Fully Spanish SNCO Course
New Mexico Air National Guard Master Sgt. Diana Melero-Sena participated in the first International Senior Noncommissioned Officer Course hosted completely in Spanish at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, between Oct. 4 and Dec. 8, 2021. Taught in the course were core leadership principles, ways to unite different forces and best practices meant to inspire the formation of strong professional relationships. Melero-Sena was one of two Citizen-Airmen who enrolled. The proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, she said that when she heard the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA) was hosting a fully Spanish SNCO course, she knew she had to attend.
As the National Guard knows, with diversity comes strength. People of different cultures feel they have a place in the Guard because they see others sharing their culture within it. With the theme of 2022's Hispanic Heritage Month being "Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation," the period reminds us that Hispanic Americans and everything they bring from their different cultures stand out as invaluable and integral parts of American society.
National Fire Pup Day, a holiday meant to celebrate the noble legacy of fire dogs, lands on Oct. 1 this year. In addition to this observance, the Firefighters Memorial Weekend, in which families and friends of fallen firefighters are brought together to mourn, is also recognized between Oct. 8 and 9.
The noble history of the fire dog
Fire dogs have a long and proud history of being staples of fire departments throughout the U.S. before mechanical fire engines even existed. Hundreds of years ago, when fire equipment and passengers were carried in a horse-drawn carriage, fire dogs were used to keep the horses calm as firefighters worked to put out blazes and help others when disaster struck.
According to Cheryl F. Steinmetz, historian for the Dalmatian Club of America, some of the dogs would instinctively take point in certain positions around the back or directly underneath the horse. The Dalmatian was and still is the most common breed of fire dog.
Dalmatians have been used since 1870 when the Fire Department of New York City began adopting them. Dogs of this variety are ideal for helping firefighters because of their exceptional stamina and strength as well as their apparent comfort around horses. They also make for first-rate mascots because of their distinctive black spots! They’re common companions to groups that go into schools and other places to teach fire safety.
Beginning in 1910, the Westminster Dog Show began holding a new category for fire department Dalmatians. Its first inaugural winner was Mike, a Dalmatian from New York Engine Company 8 on 51st Street. This category persisted for 30 years.
Fire dogs haven’t gone out of style
We use National Fire Pup Day to honor the fire dogs that have served fire departments everywhere for over a century.
Today, fire dogs perform a variety of tasks, including:
- Working as therapy dogs to help first responders process their experiences.
- Sniffing out causes of fires after it’s been extinguished, such as gasoline.
- Searching for people who might be concealed under rubble
Honoring fallen firefighters
In addition to celebrating National Fire Pup Day, October is also the month when the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend is held. This time is set aside to honor fallen firefighters
Both new families and those who have participated before from around the U.S. join together to celebrate the lives of these fallen heroes. Special programs and public ceremonies are held to commemorate their sacrifices. Professional grief counselors are made available to speak with the bereaved on Family Day.
Those who attended previous Firefighters Memorial Weekends ceremonies at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial are crucial sources of support for the grieving. These returning families join together with new families to support each other through the grieving process.
The event is being held in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Firefighters who have lost a fellow firefighter are also welcome to attend. Volunteers can serve as Fire Service Escorts for the families of their lost friends. Acting as representatives for these individuals, many consider the experience unforgettable as they walk with the forever-grateful bereaved.
After families appear at the Memorial, they are then accompanied by their Fire Escorts and uniformed fire service personnel to perform the Walk of Honor® through the “Sea of Blue.” Representatives from the Honor Guard and Pipe Band Units also serve to help with the ceremonies as well as offer appreciation to the loved ones that have shown up to memorialize the fallen protectors.
This October, join us in the celebration of fire dogs as well as the mourning of those who have been lost in the line of duty.
21 years ago, the tragic attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon left Americans stunned and shocked. On its anniversary, citizens take the day to commemorate heroes who acted in bravery and those who lost their lives in the senseless act of terrorism. Today, we want to share some facts to consider on this day of remembrance.
1. The World Trade Center
Before the attacks, the WTC hosted many employees who went to work every weekday. The Twin Towers normally had 50,000 workers and 40,000 additional visitors. During the attacks, over 3,000 people passed away, many of whom were first responders who arrived on the scene to save civilian lives.
2. Dangerous cleanup
The horrible terrorist attacks cost thousands of lives and resulted in dangerous wreckage that trapped even more people. The rescue crews were able to save 18 individuals from the ruins, which, by expert estimations, weighed 1.8 million pounds. The recovery process lasted nine months and ended on May 30, 2002.
3. Terrible loss of life
Most people know the attacks on the WTC resulted in the tragic loss of life, but the act of terrorism marked an awful day for another reason as well. It was the largest loss of life by a foreign attack on American soil.
4. The catalyst of change
The horrific event changed the ways that Americans saw security and safety. In fact, in 2001, 50% of Americans reported to Pew Research that they wanted to see America change in a serious way. Here are some of the biggest policy changes implemented after the attacks:
- Created new institutions like the Department of Homeland Security, Directorate of National Intelligence, and National Counterterrorism Center.
- Increased resources for intelligence programs in the US.
- Increased air travel security.
- Urged leaders to increase counterterrorism partnerships across the globe.
After the attacks, American leaders took a more serious approach to homeland security and preventing terrorism on American soil.
5. Impact on public opinion
The atrocious event shocked American citizens and completely altered public perception and opinion. The impacts of this can be seen in the increased patriotic sentiment across the country. Pew Research found that 79% of adults "displayed an American flag" in 2001. Political divides shrunk as people shared a sense of loss and tragedy, with about 60% of adults reporting that they trusted in the federal government in October of 2001. This is a high that was unseen in the previous 30 years and has not been met since.
The events of 9/11 changed the course of American history and deserve to be remembered with respect. Each year the attacks grow further away, but the memory of the day will not be forgotten. Take the time for a brief moment of respectful silence or learn more about the events to honor those who were lost.
With PTSD Awareness Day behind us – celebrated in June of each year – it's important to remember that the disorder is present year round for many active-duty military, veterans and first responders. Let's take a deeper dive into what PTSD is and some valuable resources to help alleviate the symptoms.
What is PTSD?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), PTSD is "a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event." Symptoms can differ greatly from person to person and last for varying lengths of time. NIMH reports that someone can be diagnosed with the disorder if they exhibit all of these symptoms for at least one month:
- At least one re-experiencing symptom.
- At least one avoidance symptom.
- At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms.
- At least two cognition and mood symptoms.
How common is PTSD in Veterans?
While you may think that you do not know anyone who has been affected by PTSD, there is a chance that someone you know has been impacted by the disorder. In fact, 6% of the American population has been diagnosed with PTSD. According to the National Center for PTSD, about "12 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD during any given year."
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that the number of those who have PTSD changes depending on the service era. Here are some of the most common examples:
Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF)
The OIF era began in October 2001 and the OEF era began on March 20, 2003, mainly in response to the terrorist attacks that happened on September 11, 2001. The National Library of Medicine reported that 1.9 million U.S. military members served as a part of the response operation. The VA Department also states that about 20% of those who served in these operations had been diagnosed with PTSD within a year.
Gulf War (Desert Storm)
Operation Desert Storm was the second phase of the Gulf War, according to the US Navy's data. Again, the VA department reports that 12% of those who participated in the full two-year duration of the Gulf War will be diagnosed with PTSD as a result.
One of the most well-known and deadly conflicts, the Vietnam War resulted in a high number of diagnoses for its veterans. The VA Department estimates that "about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime."
Do first responders get PTSD?
Similar to active duty military members and veterans, first responders are routinely exposed to traumatic situations that could result in PTSD, among other mental health concerns. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that about 1 in 3 first responders are diagnosed with PTSD. This includes firefighters, EMTs, nurses and police officers. Due to their proximity to danger and death, the emotions and stress which they are exposed to often lead to the defined symptoms above and an active diagnosis of posttraumatic stress.
While there are many support services available within the career services sector of these professions, including mandatory therapies and time off, there are a high number of volunteer first responders who either don't quality for these services or who aren't required to attend. If you or a loved one is in a first responder profession, be sure to ask and be aware of the options available for leave of absence, time off, and therapeutic services, all of which can help catch early warning signs of the disorder and even lower the severity of symptoms. Check out the valuable resources below for more information.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of PTSD, there are hotlines available that can help you discover your best course of action. The impacts of PTSD can be serious and should not be taken lightly. Seek professional assistance and help remove the stigma by having an open conversation with those involved. Here are some of the best resources:
SAMHSA: Call 1-800-662-HELP
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1
PTSD Foundation of America: Support groups
CopLine: (Law Enforcement Only): 1-800-267-5463
AllClear Foundation (all First Responders): Text BADGE to 741741 (crisis text line)
The past two years have taken its toll on the American people, but the Armed Forces have also devoted considerable time and energy to protecting communities from the effects of COVID-19. This is especially true for the National Guard, who were sent into action to support healthcare workers across the country. The National Guard provided homeland support by working in hospitals, prisons, nursing homes and testing centers. However, there are some states that are rolling back their support and returning to their regular duties. Let's take a brief look at what is happening and the implications for both active duty and civilians.
Where are COVID-19 official missions ending?
In late March 2022, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued guidance on the reentry of Department of Defense (DoD) employees to their normal workplaces, which included the National Guard protocol. This was due to the declining impact of the COVID-19 in some areas. From here, states have made their own judgments based on local situations and requirements about whether to end or slow down their pandemic-related support.
Here are some of the states that have ended their COVID-19 pandemic missions:
According to Fox 13 News, "the Utah National Guard's COVID-19 Joint Task Force announced they will "relinquish its support" after supporting the state for two years in fighting the coronavirus." The news outlet reports that this was decided on because case counts are decreasing at a steady rate.
The Pennsylvania National Guard ended its COVID-19 response mission in late March as well. According to Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Pennsylvania adjutant general, "Over the past two years, Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have risen to the challenge and demonstrated an unwavering dedication to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. I am truly proud of their dedicated service and sacrifice during this unprecedented time." He notes that they are ready to take action if needed in the future.
The Connecticut National Guard officially ended its COVID-19 response mission when the Guard gave up the keys to the state commodities warehouse in New Britain to the Connecticut Department of Health in March 2022. During the two years of pandemic support, they performed more than 1,000 missions all while helping with Hurricane Isaias clean-up and attending to regular duties.
News source KUNR reported that Nevada's COVID-19 mission was the "longest activation since World War II," and was set to end that month. Much like the rest of the nation's National Guard, the Nevada Guard not only provided intense support during the pandemic but also responded to more than 70 other missions during the two-year period.
In March, the Hawaii National Guard Joint Task Force returned the obligation of COVID-19 support to the state. This includes vaccinations, tests, mapping, temperature control and other responsibilities. On March 14, 2022, Mayor Michael Victorino proclaimed the day National Guard Appreciation Day in Maui County. The day is to commemorate the National Guard's servicemember's support of the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.
More states are likely to follow suit as the pandemic continues to fluctuate. It is important to note that there are ongoing efforts in all 50 states and territories to end the effects of the virus, but now they are out of the National Guard's jurisdiction. Servicemembers and their families are able to breathe easier knowing they are no longer entering unknown scenarios on a daily basis and can return to regular activities supporting their community needs.