National Guard February 2011 : Page 48

LAST WORD Tell Our Story By Lt. Col. Mike Fayette L part of the oldest military organization in the United States, and I carry on a proud tradition of community-based IKE MANY OF us, I try to get to my local gym as citizen-soldiers that began 140 years before our nation was often as possible. I often arrive early in the morning a nation. and find about a dozen or so regulars—retired folks, I’m a part of the only military force that is shared by the mostly men—already there. states and the federal government. Following the unwritten protocol of keeping to myself, You and I know all this. But America doesn’t. I only listen as these fellows keep up a steady chatter about And if we don’t keep the nation informed, we may not adventures long ago and far away. be able to count on the support of Americans forever. But one day, one of these gentlemen mentioned As Mark Twain, a native Missourian, said, “History may Vietnam. My ears perked up. not repeat, but it does rhyme.” He was a two-tour infantry officer and had come home There may come a day when the powerful support in the early 1970s to face a climate of societal upheaval. we receive today from our grateful nation erodes and we He still felt the sting of being rejected by some of the return to the attitude that greeted my Vietnam-veteran countrymen for whom he had risked his life, but seemed friend. genuinely happy that today’s troops are celebrated for their So, isn’t it in our best interest to advocate for ourselves? service, not vilified like he had been. Educating and informing our state and federal legislative I couldn’t help but thank him not only for his service, delegations is a necessary function. And we have ways to do but for his support for today’s service member. that through NGAUS and the state Guard associations. That conversation led to many more, and I am proud But our elected officials respond best to those they today to call him my friend. directly represent. This is especially true But perhaps the second most if those constituents are well informed. valuable aspect of this new friendship And I believe we in the Guard We are not telling is the discussions we have about the are not telling our friends and our friends and National Guard. neighbors enough about our force. We This former Army officer, neighbors enough are not leveraging the power that is the educated professional engineer and biggest tool in our toolbox—our value about the Guard. retired director of public works for a city to America. of more than 100,000 was nearly clueless We must make our fellow about the Guard. So were his buddies. countrymen understand that we are the Oh, they knew the Guard was overseas and understood proven “biggest bang for the buck” in the nation’s arsenal. its role in local disaster relief. But they did not know about If we do this right, they, too, will become our advocates in our unique constitutional basis or our daily role in domestic this time of belt-tightening. crisis response and consequence management. They, too, will insist that the Guard be maintained as the They had no idea that we provide more than 40 percent cost-effective defender of their country. of the Army’s combat formations at less than 9 percent of I wonder how our Founding Fathers would react to the costs. see the state militias they envisioned competing for fiscal Bottom line, this rather well-connected and seemingly survival with the active services? well-informed group didn’t know squat about the Guard. I wonder if they would want a do-over to create a And they are hardly alone. Most folks outside our ranks separate resource model that would guarantee the future know little about the Guard. existence of the Guard against the attacks upon it by Take this magazine, for example. Because you are reading uninformed, under-informed and ill-informed civilian and it, you are probably a Guardsman, current or retired. military leaders? Your neighbor isn’t. Your colleagues at work aren’t. We all know what the original intent was to be, and it’s This magazine is geared toward a specific audience—us! not too late to ensure that concept is protected. So we are simply telling ourselves how great we are. Let’s enlist the true power of this nation—an informed That can be important, especially to those new to the electorate—to make it happen, and let’s do it now. Guard. But unless we share our story with others, it’s like Lt. Col. Mike Fayette is the president of the Missouri National the old expression—kissing your sister. Guard Association. I’m a Guardsman and I know what that means. I’m a 48 | Na tional Guard

Last Word

Lt. Col. Mike Fayette

Tell Our Story<br /> <br /> LIKE MANY OF us, I try to get to my local gym as often as possible. I often arrive early in the morning and find about a dozen or so regulars – retired folks, mostly men – already there.<br /> <br /> Following the unwritten protocol of keeping to myself, I only listen as these fellows keep up a steady chatter about adventures long ago and far away.<br /> <br /> But one day, one of these gentlemen mentioned Vietnam. My ears perked up.<br /> <br /> He was a two-tour infantry officer and had come home in the early 1970s to face a climate of societal upheaval.<br /> <br /> He still felt the sting of being rejected by some of the countrymen for whom he had risked his life, but seemed genuinely happy that today's troops are celebrated for their service, not vilified like he had been.<br /> <br /> I couldn't help but thank him not only for his service, but for his support for today's service member.<br /> <br /> That conversation led to many more, and I am proud today to call him my friend.<br /> <br /> But perhaps the second most valuable aspect of this new friendship is the discussions we have about the National Guard.<br /> <br /> This former Army officer, educated professional engineer and retired director of public works for a city of more than 100,000 was nearly clueless about the Guard. So were his buddies.<br /> <br /> Oh, they knew the Guard was overseas and understood its role in local disaster relief. But they did not know about our unique constitutional basis or our daily role in domestic crisis response and consequence management.<br /> <br /> They had no idea that we provide more than 40 percent of the Army's combat formations at less than 9 percent of the costs.<br /> <br /> Bottom line, this rather well-connected and seemingly well-informed group didn't know squat about the Guard.<br /> <br /> And they are hardly alone. Most folks outside our ranks know little about the Guard.<br /> <br /> Take this magazine, for example. Because you are reading it, you are probably a Guardsman, current or retired.<br /> <br /> Your neighbor isn't. Your colleagues at work aren't.<br /> <br /> This magazine is geared toward a specific audience – us!<br /> <br /> So we are simply telling ourselves how great we are.<br /> <br /> That can be important, especially to those new to the Guard. But unless we share our story with others, it's like the old expression – kissing your sister.<br /> <br /> I'm a Guardsman and I know what that means. I'm a part of the oldest military organization in the United States, and I carry on a proud tradition of community-based citizen-soldiers that began 140 years before our nation was a nation.<br /> <br /> I'm a part of the only military force that is shared by the states and the federal government.<br /> <br /> You and I know all this. But America doesn't.<br /> <br /> And if we don't keep the nation informed, we may not be able to count on the support of Americans forever.<br /> <br /> As Mark Twain, a native Missourian, said, "History may not repeat, but it does rhyme."<br /> <br /> There may come a day when the powerful support we receive today from our grateful nation erodes and we return to the attitude that greeted my Vietnam-veteran friend.<br /> <br /> So, isn't it in our best interest to advocate for ourselves?<br /> <br /> Educating and informing our state and federal legislative delegations is a necessary function. And we have ways to do that through NGAUS and the state Guard associations.<br /> <br /> But our elected officials respond best to those they directly represent. This is especially true if those constituents are well informed.<br /> <br /> And I believe we in the Guard are not telling our friends and neighbors enough about our force. We are not leveraging the power that is the biggest tool in our toolbox – our value to America.<br /> <br /> We must make our fellow countrymen understand that we are the proven "biggest bang for the buck" in the nation's arsenal. If we do this right, they, too, will become our advocates in this time of belt-tightening.<br /> <br /> They, too, will insist that the Guard be maintained as the cost-effective defender of their country.<br /> <br /> I wonder how our Founding Fathers would react to see the state militias they envisioned competing for fiscal survival with the active services? I wonder if they would want a do-over to create a separate resource model that would guarantee the future existence of the Guard against the attacks upon it by uninformed, under-informed and ill-informed civilian and military leaders?<br /> <br /> We all know what the original intent was to be, and it's not too late to ensure that concept is protected.<br /> <br /> Let's enlist the true power of this nation – an informed electorate – to make it happen, and let's do it now.<br /> <br /> Lt. Col. Mike Fayette is the president of the Missouri National Guard Association.<br /> <br /> We are not telling our friends and neighbors enough about the Guard.<br />

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