National Guard December 2011 : Page 10

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala Chairman of the Board NGAUS The bottom line for Guardsmen in 2011 remains the same as it was for those rugged men in 1636—defend their community. HE NATIONAL GUARD is 375 years old this month. Rather than slowing down with age, the Guard is better than it has ever been, fulfi lling the vision our Founding Fa-thers had of a nation with a small standing army, but a militia trained, equipped and prepared to surge when called to war or for some other emergency. Certainly, those fi rst men who answered the call of the General Court of the Mas-sachusetts Bay Colony could never have imagined that that simple act of organizing a defense of their community would con-tinue for nearly four centuries. It was an enduring concept. The threats today may be far di erent than those that faced the colonies. And our troops no lon-ger bring their own muskets to the fi ght. But the bottom line for a Guardsman in 2011 remains the same as it was for those rugged men in 1636—protect and defend your community and country. That mission was a sacred duty then. It remains that way today. And as we have changed in those 375 years, we must continue to fi nd ways to better be always ready, always there. That’s why I enjoyed the hearing last month of the Senate Armed Services Com-mittee regarding the National Guard Bureau chief joining the Joint Chiefs of Sta . Americans like to use sports metaphors, so I’ll say that the National Guard came out on top on my scorecard after the clutch performance by Gen. Craig R. McKinley. While we await results from the cham-pionship round, it is clear our star player hit a home run, scored a touchdown and slapped the puck into the net during his testimony at that important hearing. With the four service chiefs and the Joint Chiefs chairman and vice chairman lined up against him, our chief showed that one Guardsman against those odds is pretty much a fair fi ght. Although an impartial observer I am not, I give this round to General McKinley. He stayed focused, on point and coun-T Happy Birthday tered the testimony of the others with solid arguments to favor why our chief deserves a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Sta . The others spoke from carefully prepared scripts that made it appear they had copied each other’s homework. Our chief was the right guy at the right time in that Capitol Hill hearing room. He stood up for his organization well and with polish and professionalism. He has become my newest hero. I’ve nick-named him General Smooth. Well done, Chief. We need to win this battle soon because we have other e orts that need our attention. An obvious one is the problem our great men and women have fi nding jobs when they return from overseas duty. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told the National Guard Senior Leadership Confer-ence recently that the unemployment rate for Guard and Reserve members is at 13 per-cent, several points higher than for the entire population. For young junior enlisted troops, the fi gure is an astonishing 23 percent. This confi rms fi gures from the Depart-ment of Labor that show all veterans of the post-9/11 era are struggling to fi nd jobs in this harsh economy. That’s why NGAUS supports bills now before Congress that would reward employ-ers who hire veterans, provide more training and job search assistance for veterans and give them access to job banks where veteran-friendly employers advertise their openings. This is a key issue for a force that depends on part-time warriors. Our people must know they have the civilian side of their lives in check if we expect them to have the con-centration required for their military tasks. I have no doubt, however, that our highly skilled and accomplished soldiers and airmen have what it takes to rise to the top of any employer’s applicant list. It is for that reason and others that I am … Proud to be Guardsman! The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org. 10 | N G

Chairman’s Message

Happy Birthday<br /> <br /> THE NATIONAL GUARD is 375 years old this month.<br /> <br /> Rather than slowing down with age, the Guard is better than it has ever been, fulfilling the vision our Founding Fathers had of a nation with a small standing army, but a militia trained, equipped and prepared to surge when called to war or for some other emergency.<br /> <br /> Certainly, those first men who answered the call of the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony could never have imagined that that simple act of organizing a defense of their community would continue for nearly four centuries.<br /> <br /> It was an enduring concept. The threats today may be far different than those that faced the colonies. And our troops no longer bring their own muskets to the fight.<br /> <br /> But the bottom line for a Guardsman in 2011 remains the same as it was for those rugged men in 1636—protect and defend your community and country.<br /> <br /> That mission was a sacred duty then. It remains that way today.<br /> <br /> And as we have changed in those 375 years, we must continue to find ways to better be always ready, always there.<br /> <br /> That’s why I enjoyed the hearing last month of the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the National Guard Bureau chief joining the Joint Chiefs of Sta .<br /> <br /> Americans like to use sports metaphors, so I’ll say that the National Guard came out on top on my scorecard after the clutch performance by Gen. Craig R. McKinley.<br /> <br /> While we await results from the championship round, it is clear our star player hit a home run, scored a touchdown and slapped the puck into the net during his testimony at that important hearing.<br /> <br /> With the four service chiefs and the Joint Chiefs chairman and vice chairman lined up against him, our chief showed that one Guardsman against those odds is pretty much a fair fight.<br /> <br /> Although an impartial observer I am not, I give this round to General McKinley.<br /> <br /> He stayed focused, on point and countered the testimony of the others with solid arguments to favor why our chief deserves a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Sta . The others spoke from carefully prepared scripts that made it appear they had copied each other’s homework.<br /> <br /> Our chief was the right guy at the right time in that Capitol Hill hearing room. He stood up for his organization well and with polish and professionalism.<br /> <br /> He has become my newest hero. I’ve nicknamed him General Smooth.<br /> <br /> Well done, Chief.<br /> <br /> We need to win this battle soon because we have other efforts that need our attention. An obvious one is the problem our great men and women have finding jobs when they return from overseas duty.<br /> <br /> Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta told the National Guard Senior Leadership Conference recently that the unemployment rate for Guard and Reserve members is at 13 percent, several points higher than for the entire population. For young junior enlisted troops, the figure is an astonishing 23 percent.<br /> <br /> This confirms figures from the Department of Labor that show all veterans of the post-9/11 era are struggling to find jobs in this harsh economy.<br /> <br /> That’s why NGAUS supports bills now before Congress that would reward employers who hire veterans, provide more training and job search assistance for veterans and give them access to job banks where veteranfriendly employers advertise their openings.<br /> <br /> This is a key issue for a force that depends on part-time warriors. Our people must know they have the civilian side of their lives in check if we expect them to have the concentration required for their military tasks.<br /> <br /> I have no doubt, however, that our highly skilled and accomplished soldiers and airmen have what it takes to rise to the top of any employer’s applicant list.<br /> <br /> It is for that reason and others that I am … Proud to be Guardsman!<br /> <br /> The NGAUS chairman can be contacted at frank.vavala@ngaus.org.

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