Posts in Category: Texas Air National Guard

Doors opened for Texas students

"I feel prepared to handle the real world now," said Jessica Knofla, the class assistant corps commander, during the Texas ChalleNGe Academy Graduation at Iraan High School, in Iraan, Texas, June 22, 2013.
"I feel prepared to handle the real world now," said Jessica Knofla, the class assistant corps commander, during the Texas ChalleNGe Academy Graduation at Iraan High School, in Iraan, Texas, June 22, 2013. The academy is a youth challenge program, sponsored by the Texas Military Forces that targets students between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out. (National Guard photo by Army 1st Lt. Martha Nigrelle)

Story by: 1st Lt. Martha Nigrelle

 

 IRAAN, Texas – Hundreds of family members cheered as 89 students marched into the Iraan High School gymnasium  on the morning of June 22, 2013. Coming from locations throughout the state of Texas, and each with their own troubled  past, these students were all celebrating the same achievement – graduation from the Texas Challenge Academy (TCA).

 The academy is located in the west Texas town of Sheffield, and is a Youth Challenge Program sponsored by the Texas  Military Forces. The program targets high school students between the ages of 16 and 18 who are high school dropouts  or are at risk of dropping out of high school. 

 TCA has the potential to significantly change people’s lives.

 According to the TCA leadership, each year up to 118,000 students drop out of high school in the state of Texas. A goal of  TCA is to help these students reclaim their lives through mentoring, education, physical fitness and volunteer service to  the community. After a five and a half month course of instruction, students graduate, and then spend the next 12 months  meeting with a mentor every week in order to maintain the positive changes in their life. 

 “I wasn’t even here for two weeks and I was trying to go home,” said Christopher Parkey, the class speaker. “I finally  manned up and I started doing great things. I made myself proud. For the first time my dad said he was proud of me…  But I am just one of 89 success stories here at TCA.”

 These students have a right to be proud, said Lauren Schulman, the academy’s commandant. “You have made the  journey from compliance to self-reliance” – indicating another goal of TCA, to help these students learn how to rely on  themselves.

 Col. Suzanne Adkinson, commander of the Joint Counter-drug Task Force and commencement speaker, spoke to the  students about choices and making the decision to better their lives. Opting not to stand behind the lectern; instead, she  chose to walk around the gym and speak directly to the students. 

 Adkinson reminded the students that sometimes life will present a situation that might not be fun, but is necessary to get  to the next step, making a comparison to household chores.

 “I hate to vacuum,” she said, “but I hate dirt even more.”

 Her solution? Put on some headphones, dance around and vacuum anyway. In life you have to work hard and “go get it yourself,” she said.

Corps commander, Joshua Tilley, a Waco, Texas, resident, said he is ready to do just that. Tilley said he appreciates the life skills he got while at TCA, especially learning how to stay calm and work through a problem.

While he said he has fond memories of the drill and ceremony competition and helping the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) build an obstacle course, he said he is looking forward to a future life serving in the U.S. Air Force.

Jessica Knofla, of Seabrook, Texas, and the assistant corps commander, said she was thankful that her mother encouraged her to participate in the program. She said TCA gave her the tools to take initiative and to find her voice. Knofla said she now feels prepared to handle the real world and is confident that she can push herself to achieve her dream of earning a degree in psychology, law, or filmmaking.

It is evident that this program had a positive effect on each of the students as they accepted their diploma.

“We learned to make our lives better here,” said Priscilla Lopez, one of the graduating students.

“A doorway has been opened for you here today,” said Adkinson, “Doors will continue to open for you. You just have to choose to go through that door.” 

As each student moved their graduation tassel to the left side of their mortar board, the TCA director Michael Weir congratulated the Class of 2013, and told them now was the time “to move from finish strong to carry on.”

National Guard senior leaders 'Like' Facebook, Twitter

Story by: Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain

Posted on: April 2, 2013

Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, The adjutant general of Texas, visiting with senior leaders of the Texas Military Forces on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, March 20, 2013.
Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, The adjutant general of Texas, visiting with senior leaders of the Texas Military Forces on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, March 20, 2013. Nichols is the state's senior military leader appointed by the governor of Texas and posted this image to his official Facebook page (Major General John F. Nichols). (National Guard photo illustration by Air Force Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain)

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – Senior National Guard leaders are making their voices heard on a new parade ground, in the  online auditorium of social media. State and federal military officials have taken to the Internet to send messages directly  to their troops and the public.

 The adjutant general of Texas, Air Force Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, recently launched an official Facebook page, and has  been posting behind-the-scenes photographs and informal guidance on a range of issues. He is currently one of six adjutants general to have a registered Facebook page with the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Va.

 “The idea is to reach out to our people in another, unique way,” Nichols said. “The vast majority of our service members  are younger than 30 [years of age] – and this is a way to reach them in a familiar forum. And many are traditional members  of the Guard and can sometimes be hard to regularly reach, by nature of their part-time service.”

 This can be a daunting task, particularly for a Guard organization with more than 25,000, actively serving citizen-soldiers  and airmen performing disparate missions across a geographically expansive state and in overseas operations.

 “In many ways, social media is a modern version of our traditional office bulletin boards,” he said. “The only difference is  the Internet has the ability to reach people almost anywhere in the world.”

 For example, the Texas Army National Guard’s 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, headquartered in Round Rock, Texas, is currently deployed to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Centurion, and they have been able to share photographs and videos of their soldiers and the positive things they are doing for the nation on their Facebook page.

At the national level, Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, the 27th Chief of the National Guard Bureau, is active on Facebook, as is his senior enlisted adviser, Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall. Grass is also on Twitter as @ChiefNGB. The adjutant general of Pennsylvania, Army Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, is also on Twitter as @TAGPNG, the only adjutant general with an NGB-registered account.

Grass and Jelinski-Hall tend to post photographs and comments from events they attend, and give updates on their current activities and projects.

It’s a way for the leaders to interact with service members and the public in a less formal setting.

Facebook and Twitter have been ranked the first and second most popular social networking sites, respectively, according to an eBizMBA analysis of global Internet traffic, dated March 18, 2013.

“It’s important to actively engage people where they are,” said Rick E. Breitenfeldt, the bureau’s public information branch chief, who advises leadership on developing their social media presence. “It’s the way people are communicating today.”

Beyond typical organization pages, he said it can be helpful for leaders to communicate directly with service members and their families.

“Sometimes, it’s important for the force to hear – in first-person – from the leadership,” Breitenfeldt said. “This way, they are able to share messages they think are important, but also behind-the-scenes items that you typically wouldn’t put on an organizational page.”

Their posts range in formality.

Grass has posted official press statements, as well as informal videos of his testimony before a congressional committee, discussing major issues like the current federal budget sequester.

Jelinski-Hall uploads casual, weekly “Mentorship Moment” videos, where she has shared advice on issues ranging from resiliency, core values and ethics to money management.

On Twitter, the micro-blogging site that limits posts to 140 characters, Grass has been known to tweet similar messages that he puts onto Facebook, and to “retweet” messages from accounts he follows, such as the National Guard (@USNationalGuard), the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s account (@thejointstaff) and its chairman, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey (@Martin_Dempsey). Craig of Pennsylvania’s activity on Twitter is very similar.

Additionally, the National Guard’s senior ranking officer frequently uses the hashtag #NationalGuard in his messages, which allows Twitter users to quickly find all posts with that term included.

The use of unique hashtags can be helpful in aggregating information during a crisis or emergency management situation, said Breitenfeldt. It also helps you reach the group of people that would be most interested in hearing your message.

“Hurricane Sandy is a prime example,” Breitenfeldt said. “We operated on high-tempo for an 18-day, straight period of time.”

Breitenfeldt said they used not only #NationalGuard, but also other unique hashtags, including #Sandy, to get word out about the National Guard response to that hurricane last fall.

Beyond sharing information, the effective use of social media for leaders is about finding ways to make connections and share personal insights, Breitenfeldt said.

To date, one of the Texas adjutant general’s most popular posts was about leaders taking calculated risks.

“Don’t be afraid of failure – it means you’re trying,” Nichols posted, March 19, 2013. “If leaders are afraid to make mistakes, we won’t improve as an organization. Do the risk analysis; assess the variables; but be prepared to underwrite the mistakes of your people and take responsibility for them.”

Social media has the ability to spread a message exponentially.

Nearly 50 people “liked” Nichols’ post and it has been shared numerous times, which Facebook reports has been seen by nearly 850 people, more than three times the number of people that currently follow the general’s page.

Among those who “liked” and commented on the post, in his personal capacity, was Air Force Staff Sgt. David Porcelle, a noncommissioned officer assigned to the Texas Military Forces’ Joint Operations Center in Austin, Texas. He wrote, “Sir, a great philosophy… I make mistakes all the time; rarely the same ones twice,” and included an emoticon forming a smiling face.

Porcelle said he first discovered the senior Texas leader’s page when “someone I know ‘liked’ a comment made by Maj. Gen. Nichols, and that [activity] showed up in my timeline.”

He said he follows numerous senior leader and organizational pages, and thinks they are helpful with getting information to a broad cross-section of people, including those who’ve deployed, transferred to new units or retired.

“Social media’s another tool in the box to get instant feedback from every angle and echelon,” he said. “It’s a useful adjunct to more formal means and direct contact.”

This can be invaluable during those times of disaster, when messages need to get out quickly, in real time.

Breitenfeldt said there was a social media multiplier effect in relation to National Guard’s response to Hurricane Sandy, particularly though their follower’s sharing and commenting on the National Guard’s posts.

“We posted 35 stories on our website that received 17,000 hits,” Breitenfeldt said. “But on Facebook, we posted a fraction of the stories, and they were seen a half a million times. On YouTube [a social media video sharing site], our videos received 1.5 million views and were shown on major networks.”

This type of capability can be powerful, particularly in a state the size of Texas, which can face a myriad of disasters, potentially at the same time, including: hurricanes; tornadoes; wildfires; and even blizzards.

In addition to Nichols, other senior Texas Guard officers on Facebook include: Maj. Gen. Joyce L. Stevens, assistant adjutant general – Army and commander of the Texas Army National Guard, Maj. Gen. Manuel Rodriguez, commander of the state-based, volunteer Texas State Guard, and Brig. Gen. William L. Smith, commander of domestic operations.

“With our armories and air wings spread across the state, and units and personnel mobilized around the globe, social media can be a powerful tool to quickly send a message,” Nichols said. “Additionally, I enjoy hearing directly from our soldiers and airmen – getting their feedback.”

While the senior Texas general is still new to the online community, he said he wants to use the platform to talk about more than just himself and his activities.

“I look forward to helping get the word out about the great things we’re doing, [as] a military organization with our inter-agency partners, for the state and nation,” Nichols said.

Texas Air Guard joins annual 'Best Warrior Competition'

Air Force Staff Sgt. Jose Veliz, a member of the Texas Air National Guard's 149th Security Forces Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, attempts to negotiate an obstacle during the Texas Military Forces' Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 9, 2013.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jose Veliz, a member of the Texas Air National Guard's 149th Security Forces Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland, attempts to negotiate an obstacle during the Texas Military Forces' Best Warrior Competition at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 9, 2013. Veliz is one of the first Texas Air National Guard members to participate in the event as a competitor. (National Guard photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain / Released)

Story by: Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain

 CAMP SWIFT, Texas – The Texas Military Forces hosted the first joint-service “Best Warrior Competition” at the Texas  Army National Guard’s Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 8-10.

 The three-day long competition consisted of numerous events to challenge the Army and Air Guard participants –  physically and mentally, said Command Chief Master Sgt. Kevin O’Gorman, with the Texas Air National Guard’s  headquarters at Camp Mabry, in Austin.

 In recent years, senior leaders have been laying the groundwork for this event to be a joint-service competition, but care  has been taken “to ensure it was going to be compatible, a level-playing field,” said O’Gorman.

 “For the past two years, we’ve had some of our command chiefs sit on the boards,” O’Gorman said. “This year, we’re  fully integrated. We ensured they are in the cadre, and we have eight [Air Guard] competitors running.”

 Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, senior enlisted adviser to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, located at the  Pentagon in Arlington, Va., was on-hand to view the joint-service activities.

 “One of the many benefits that I’m seeing is soldiers and airmen competing side-by-side, getting to know one another,”  said Jelinski-Hall. “This is important, so when there’s a state natural disaster, a flood, fire or a tornado, they already  know each other.”

 The competition’s challenges included: a 6-mile road march; an obstacle course; the use of combat arms; a land  navigation exercise; proficiency in various warrior tasks; writing an essay; and appearing before a board that reviewed  their personal appearance, military bearing and knowledge.

O’Gorman said the Air Guard members came from “all different backgrounds and specialties.”

“So far, we’ve seen some great competitiveness,” O’Gorman said. “We’ve also started seeing the camaraderie that we knew would foster out of this event. We’re all one.”

The Texas Air Guard chief’s assessment was affirmed by an Army Guard participant.

The joint-service nature “benefits the competitors, because you all come along together,” said Spc. Cynthia Chavez, a member of the Texas Army National Guard’s 949th Brigade Support Battalion in El Paso. “I’ve learned a lot from the Air Force that I did not know – we’re all ‘one fight, one team.’ It’s motivating.”

O’Gorman said he sees the joint-service training continuing to build in the future.

“This is what we want to do, this is more of what we want to showcase in our state,” O’Gorman said. “It’s the Texas Military Forces theme, that we’re all one in the uniform.”

Senior NGB enlisted chief visits Texas Guardsmen, views joint-service competition

Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, senior enlisted adviser to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, watches a member of the Texas Air National Guard demonstrate the disassembly process for a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 9, 2013.
Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, senior enlisted adviser to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, watches a member of the Texas Air National Guard demonstrate the disassembly process for a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon at Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Feb. 9, 2013. Jelinski-Hall was attending the Texas Military Forces Best Warrior Competition, which included participants from the Texas Army and Air National Guards. (National Guard photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain / Released)
  Story by: Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain
 
 CAMP SWIFT, Texas – The senior enlisted adviser to the chief of the National Guard Bureau, located at the Pentagon in  Arlington, Va., visited with soldiers and airmen of the Texas Military Forces during an official visit to the state, Feb. 8-9.

 Chief Master Sgt. Denise Jelinski-Hall, a Minnesota native and previous Hawaii National Guard senior enlisted leader,  spent two-days viewing the Texas Military Forces’ joint-service “Best Warrior Competition,” which took place at the Texas  Army National Guard’s Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas.

 Enlisted members of the Texas Army and Air National Guard participated in a three-daylong event, where they were  required to negotiate physical and mental challenges, said Command Sgt. Major Bradley C. Brandt, senior enlisted  adviser for the Texas Military Forces.

 “This year, we have the Air Guard integrated with the Army Guard doing this competition,” Brandt said. “We have eight Air  Guardsmen, 20 Army Guardsmen out here doing various events. It’s just a great competition all together, good  camaraderie going around and good morale.”

 Challenges included: a six-mile road march, an obstacle course, the use of combat arms, a land navigation exercise,  proficiency in various warrior tasks, writing an essay and appearing before a board that reviewed their personal  appearance, military bearing and knowledge.

 “One of the many benefits that I’m seeing is soldiers and airmen competing side-by-side, getting to know one another,”  said Jelinski-Hall. “This is important, so when there’s a state natural disaster, a flood, fire or a tornado, they already  know each other.”

 In addition to watching the activities, Jelinski-Hall said she enjoys visiting with soldiers and airmen in the states and  providing feedback to Army Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau and member of the Joint Chiefs of  Staff.

 “It gives me the opportunity to get a pulse check at the individual soldier and airmen level and share their feedback with  senior leadership,” Jelinski-Hall said. “Each state has different successes and challenges.”

 She said leaders at all levels should be proactive in getting to know their fellow service members. They need to know what resources are available to help them, whether on-duty or in their private life.

“We need to ensure that we’re doing all we can to let the soldiers, airmen and families know that we care about them,” Jelinski-Hall said. “No matter what the challenge might be, the National Guard has a tool or resource to assist. We need to encourage them to come forward, so we can help them be successful in all aspects of their life.”

Texas Air Guardsman returns as NGB vice chief, learns Army Guard operations

Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, vice chief of the National Guard Bureau, receives training from Sgt. 1st Class Kyle York, a member of the Texas Army National Guard, on a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon during a visit to Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Jan. 23, 2013.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, vice chief of the National Guard Bureau, receives training from Sgt. 1st Class Kyle York, a member of the Texas Army National Guard, on a M249 Squad Automatic Weapon during a visit to Camp Swift, near Bastrop, Texas, Jan. 23, 2013. Lengyel is visiting Texas to learn more about Army operations. (National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain/Released)
 Story by: Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain
 
 CAMP MABRY, Texas - The vice chief of the National Guard Bureau toured several Texas Army National Guard facilities  during an official visit to the state, Jan. 21-24.

 Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, of San Antonio, a member of the Texas Air National Guard, returned to the Lone Star State as  the second-in-command at the U.S. National Guard's headquarters, located in Arlington, Va., to learn more about Army  National Guard operations.

 Lengyel, a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours, mostly in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, began his military career  after completing the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at North Texas State University (now the University of North  Texas), in Denton.

 His Texas Air National Guard experience includes previous leadership positions at the 149th Fighter Wing,  headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio - Lackland.

 His current position, Vice Chief, National Guard Bureau, was created in 2012, when the position of Chief, National Guard  Bureau, was included as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lengyel said.

 "We're going through the process of informing everybody about the new position of vice chief and what it does," Lengyel said. "We're trying to put the lanes in the road on where it is I can best support the chief, in his new role on the JCS."

Lengyel said that he has been empowered to run the day-to-day operations of the National Guard Bureau, on behalf of the chief. This frees up the chief, Army Gen. Frank J. Grass, to work more at the strategic level.

"Part of my portfolio is the process of the administration of all the people and the resources that are in the NGB," Lengyel said. "I'm working closely with the directors of the Army Guard and the Air Guard, to make sure we have a synchronized National Guard Bureau effort."

The three-star general officer said he is adjusting to his new role in the joint-service environment.

"Although we're one National Guard, we have an 'Army Way' and an 'Air Way,'" he said. "It's important that I understand both."

During the four-day visit to Central Texas, Lengyel was briefed on the state's joint domestic operations capabilities and the Texas Army National Guard's 36th Infantry Division, headquartered here, and its subordinate units. Additionally, he visited two armories, one in Round Rock and another in Taylor, facilities at Camp Swift, in Bastrop, and the Austin-Bergstrom Flight Facility, in Austin.

"We're honored that Lt. Gen. Lengyel came to Texas to review Army Guard operations," said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, The Adjutant General of Texas. "It's always great to be able to showcase the capabilities and relevance the Texas Military Forces provide to the state and nation."

"There will be ongoing conversations," Nichols said. "I'm proud to have worked with him here in Texas, and look forward to continuing our relationship in his new role."

Throughout his orientations, the vice chief viewed diverse types of Army Guard units, and saw how they can operate in wartime and homeland defense missions.

"It's great to be back in Texas. I'm honored to serve in Washington, but it sure is good to come home," Lengyel said.

Civil Support Team trains with Texas airlift wing

Members of the National Guard's 6th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, headquartered at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, and members of the Texas Air National Guard's 136th Airlift Wing, headquartered at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, load a military vehicle onto a C-130 Hercules, assigned to the 136th Airlift Wing, at NAS Fort Worth JRB, Dec. 5, 2012.
Members of the National Guard's 6th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, headquartered at Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, and members of the Texas Air National Guard's 136th Airlift Wing, headquartered at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, load a military vehicle onto a C-130 Hercules, assigned to the 136th Airlift Wing, at NAS Fort Worth JRB, Dec. 5, 2012. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class William Gee / Released)

 Civil Support Team trains with Texas airlift wing

 Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain
 

 CAMP MABRY, Texas - About 20 members of the National Guard's 6th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support  Team (CST), headquartered here, conducted joint-service training involving C-130 Hercules aircraft and crews assigned  to the Texas Air National Guard's 136th Airlift Wing at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Dec. 5, 2012.

 The aircraft loading operation was part of a three-day training mission for the 6th CST, which is responsible for  responding to disasters and catastrophic events, said Air Force Maj. Michael A. Torres, the unit's deputy commander.  When activated by civil authorities, the CST deploys an advance party to the site of the incident, within 90 minutes of  notification, and they must be self sustainable for a minimum of 72 hours.

 "The idea for the [C-130] training was to use organic assets within the state in a way that could help us quickly deploy  and integrate with our civilian partners," Torres said. "Ultimately, we work for the [civilian] incident commander."

 "The CST is different than other civilian counterparts, in that it possesses a mobile, analytical laboratory, which provides  on-scene, presumptive analysis, allowing incident commander's to quickly implement life saving actions," he said.

 The organization is comprised of full-time, Title 32, Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen, who have been  trained in: operations; administration and logistics; communications; medical science; and reconnaissance and survey  operations.

 "We're built up from many specialties, but we are all trained HAZMAT technicians and specialists," Torres said. "We train  all year in different scenarios and situations to support our first responders."

Torres said there are 57 CSTs located throughout the United States, with at least one in each state and territory, and that the concept was developed in 1999. National Guard assets, similar to CSTs, have assisted in the response to: the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; Hurricane Katrina; and numerous high profile events at large population venues.

During the recent training, 6th CST members coordinated with 136th Airlift Wing personnel to load equipment and vehicles onto the tactical cargo aircraft.

In addition to the 6th CST, the Texas Air Guard benefited from the training activities, said Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Suelzer, the domestic operations officer for the Texas Air National Guard and chief of staff for Joint Task Force 71 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade).

"The 136th Airlift Wing conducts training throughout the year to maintain a regional and national response capability across the full spectrum of domestic operations," Suelzer said, "from hurricane support to CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear) Consequence Management."

The 136th Airlift Wing's C-130s are available to the Texas governor for disaster relief efforts, and are the only such Air National Guard aircraft controlled by a state along the United States' Gulf Coast.

"The 136th, with its hard-working people and responsive airlift capability, is a state treasure and a key regional asset," said Suelzer.

Additional joint-training is likely to be developed for the 6th CST and the 136th Airlift Wing to conduct in the future, Torres and Suelzer said.

"Training with the 136th [Airlift Wing] provided the opportunity to validate planning, as well as identify future force packaging needs and priorities," Torres said, "depending on the number of aircraft available in an actual emergency response."

 

National Guard civilian's legacy, four decades of service honored

Ms. Gloria Sassman, the deputy human resources officer for the Texas Military Forces, greets a member of the Texas Air National Guard following Sassman's retirement ceremony on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Dec. 20, 2012.
Ms. Gloria Sassman, the deputy human resources officer for the Texas Military Forces, greets a member of the Texas Air National Guard following Sassman's retirement ceremony on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Dec. 20, 2012. Sassman served more than 44 years in the human resources field for the Texas Military Forces.

 

 Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain

 CAMP MABRY, Texas - Current and former members of the Texas Military Forces honored the four decades of service of  the organization's deputy human resources officer, during a recognition ceremony on Camp Mabry, in Austin, Texas, Dec.  20, 2012.

 Gloria M. Sassman, a non-dual status civilian employee, began her civil service career with the National Guard in 1968,  during the federal administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson and the state tenure of Texas Gov. John B. Connally.  She was initially assigned to the Texas Air National Guard headquarters and then worked her way through various  assignments, culminating in her position at the state Joint Force Headquarters' human resources office, all at Camp Mabry, where she officially retired from on Jan. 1, 2013.

 "There is not a more helpful, more knowledgeable person, in personnel and technician programs, than Gloria," said  Army Col. Patrick M. Hamilton, The Adjutant General's chief of staff. "She has been one of those key staff people in this  agency that is a 'go-to person,' that everybody can count on to get a right answer and will work tirelessly to help people  and help this agency be better."

 Sassman was recently the focus of a National Guard Bureau "Technician Spotlight," which reported that she "served in  all but one of the Human Resources specialties" during her career. The story further stated, "Gloria's expert advice  always ensured the proper blend of NGB policy and state-level program execution and served to strengthen partnerships  between the State HRO and NGB."

During the ceremony, Sassman received the Superior Civilian Service Award and the Certificate of Retirement from The Adjutant General of Texas, Air Force Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols. Additionally, the TAG presented Sassman with the state's "Yellow Rose of Texas" award, on behalf of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Sassman's previous honors include the National Guard Bureau's Minuteman Award, which she was presented in 2010. The award is approved by the chief of the National Guard Bureau and is given to outstanding personnel who have had a nationwide impact on the oldest component of the armed forces of the United States.

During her career, the Texas Military Forces has been involved with major personnel actions, base realignments and force structure adjustments, Nichols said. Additionally, Sassman was instrumental in policy development, formulation and implementation at the highest levels of National Guard decision-making in Austin and Washington.

Nichols said Gloria would always try to figure out, "What's the best thing that we can do for this person?"

"She was always worried about not impacting people," Nichols said. "Even though she's got it in black and white, Gloria knows what gray looks like, she does, and she would make things gray to benefit the person. She's left us a legacy of how we take care of our people, and to do it the right way."

Sassman is expected to keep busy in retirement. She said that she is looking forward to traveling, spending time with her daughter in California, and remaining actively involved with her church.

"It's been a wonderful, wonderful career," Sassman said. "I've absolutely enjoyed every minute of it. .... My heart will be here at Camp Mabry, no matter where I am."

Texas Military Forces demonstrates strength at State Response Activation Exercise

Texas Governor Rick Perry visits with Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Karlin of Joint Force Headquarters J6, Friday, June 1, 2012 during the Texas Department of Emergency Management State Response Activation Exercise at the South Terminal of Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The Texas Military Forces was just one of the many state agencies and partners showcasing their capabilities to the Governor and other statewide leaders in preparation of the 2012 Hurricane Season.
Texas Governor Rick Perry visits with Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Karlin of Joint Force Headquarters J6, Friday, June 1, 2012 during the Texas Department of Emergency Management State Response Activation Exercise at the South Terminal of Austin Bergstrom International Airport. The Texas Military Forces was just one of the many state agencies and partners showcasing their capabilities to the Governor and other statewide leaders in preparation of the 2012 Hurricane Season.

 

 Story by Laura Lopez

 AUSTIN, Texas - As the official first day of the Atlantic Hurricane Season kicked off on Friday, June 1, 2012, members of  the Texas Military Forces participated in the Texas Division of Emergency Management State Response Activation  Exercise and Showcase at the South Terminal of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas. 

 “This is critical. A lot of the state agencies don’t often get a chance to work together,” said Lt. Col. Peyton Randolph,  Operations Officers, 2nd Reg., Texas State Guard. “You’ll see on the terminal ramp they are all integrating their  communication and emergency operations and actually getting to know each other and work together before the  emergency happens.”

 An exercise designed to increase public awareness, identify agency capabilities and assets, improve resource and interagency familiarization, as well as identify space utilization for base camp operations, Texas Governor Rick Perry joined Chief Nim Kidd, Assistant Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety and Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management for a tour and briefing of the various agencies and equipment. With Perry proclaiming May 27- June 2, 2012 as Hurricane Preparedness Week in Texas, it was during his speech that he encouraged all Texans to prepare for an emergency or disaster.

“We are blessed to be coming off a relatively quiet hurricane season,” said Perry “[However], we know that its not a matter of if another major hurricane is going to hit us, it’s a matter of when.”

Members of the Texas State Guard viewed the exercise as an opportunity to employ the Texas Emergency Tracking Network; a State-directed evacuee and resource tracking system for emergency response operations that uses Radio Frequency Identification. Through the use of bar-coded wristbands and tags, the State Guard can monitor evacuees and his or her belongings from the time of their enrollment at transportation hubs through their sheltering and the return home, helping to keep families together and easily reconnect if separated. 

“It’s exercises like this that allow us to be able to handle what is going to be thrown in our path, whether it be a natural disaster or a man-made disaster,” said Kidd.

A common fixture in the skies, throughout the state, during the massive wildfire season of 2011, the Texas Army National Guard displayed a variety of different helicopters that included the UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook and UH-72 Lakota. Other equipment and personnel partaking in the showcase allowed the Army National Guard to highlight some of its communications capabilities and other specialized emergency resources.

One of eight C-130 Hercules aircraft owned by the Texas Air National Guard was on display at the showcase and has worked over 110 hurricane support missions coordinating movement of over 540 tons of cargo and over 870 passengers since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Having the ability to move patients and ambulatory individuals very quickly can only be done by those aircraft [referring to the C-130 Hercules in his background] and having them right here in the state of Texas, which is where the vast majority of naturals disasters with broad impact, like a hurricane, are going to be is crucial,” said Perry. 

As Perry took the time to personally thank many of those emergency responders often in harms way, those hosting the exercise added that in the past five months there has been a State Operations Center exercise (not at the center), four regional hurricane workshops, a DPS and TxDot staged a full-scale exercise to contraflow I-37 stressing that a successful response is a three-legged stool.

“It has to be a first responder, a group of local emergency responders dedicated to making good decisions; it has to a media that gets that message to the public and it has to be a public that will trust the media and trust the elected and first responders,” said Kidd. 

Representatives from the American Red Cross, Texas Forest Service, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Animal Health Commission, Public Works Response Team, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Department of State Health Services, Texas Engineering Extension Service, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Task Force 1, the Salvation Army, the Civil Air Patrol and the Veterinary Emergency Team also participated in the exercise on June 1. 

The 2012 hurricane season officially runs from June 1- Nov. 30, 2012. For more information about disaster preparedness, visit the Texas Prepares website at www.texasprepares.org.

Texas recruiter named best in the Air Guard

Texas Recruiter named best in the Air Guard
Tech. Sgt. Jennifer A. Joubert of Lake Church, La., a production recruiter with the 149th Fighter Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, was recently named the top recruiter in the Air National Guard for "Prior Service Qualified Accessions" and "Critical Accessions." (National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Miguel Arellano)

 Texas Recruiter named best in the Air Guard

 Story by Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain and Vince Madrid
 
 CAMP MABRY, Texas – Last month, Tech. Sgt. Jennifer A. Joubert of Lake Church, La., a production recruiter with the  149th Fighter Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, was recognized by the Air National Guard as one of the nation’s  top recruiters during the 2012 Air National Guard Recruiting and Retention Workshop in New Orleans, in her native state.

 The Air National Guard annually recognizes its best performers nationally for recruiting and retention efforts. Joubert’s  performance at the San Antonio-based F-16 combat fighter training unit during Fiscal Year 2011 earned her the  distinction of being the nation’s top Air Guard recruiter in both “Prior Service Qualified Accessions” and “Critical  Accessions.”

 Earning two of the distinctions in one year is considered to be a unique accomplishment, as there are only four categories  of annual awards for production recruiters in the Air National Guard. The other categories are for top non-prior service  and overall accessions, or recruiting.

 “An accession happens when a person actually enlists and is successfully gained into the unit,” Joubert said. “Prior  service recruits can be from any branch [of the armed forces], and includes transfers from one [National] Guard unit to  another.”

 Joubert further explained that critical accessioning involves placing airmen into difficult to fill positions, which “are designated annually by NGB (National Guard Bureau) for the fiscal year.”

The ANG award categories highlight a production recruiter’s dynamic recruiting ability, exceptional technical expertise, and steadfast focus on mission accomplishment. Additionally, this particular recognition builds upon Joubert’s record as having been previously named the Texas Air National Guard’s Rookie Production Recruiter of the Year for 2011.

Although relatively new to the Lone Star State and the recruiting field, Joubert has extensive military experience she can share with potential recruits, including service in Masirah, Oman, while she was in the active-duty Air Force as a member of the Security Forces. Additionally, she has served in administrative positions within other units of the Air National Guard.

“None of the awesome capabilities provided by the Texas Air National Guard could exist without airmen,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael E. Fruge, superintendent of recruiting and retention for the Texas Air National Guard. “We could not have airmen without outstanding recruiters like Tech. Sgt. Joubert.”

During FY11, Joubert was directly responsible for bringing in 62 new Lone Star Gunfighters, which members of the 149th Fighter Wing are known as, and “90 percent of her accessions were in critical vacancies,” according to the award nomination package.

Joubert credits her success with finding the best possible fit for each new airman. She said she’s most rewarded “when recruits go off to training and come back transformed and proud. I try to make sure I’m giving them what they’re looking for while fulfilling the mission of the unit.”

Reaching out and strengthening ties

Maj. Gen. Nichols speaks to members of the Central Texas Chapter of the military Officers association of America.
On Friday, March 16, 2012, Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols speaks to members of the Central Texas Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, in Killeen, about the role of the Texas Military Forces in both federal and state missions. During the presentation, Nichols explained how members of the Texas Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard come together to serve the citizens of Texas through search and rescue missions, evacuation support and shelter management.

 Reaching out and strengthening ties

 Story by Laura Lopez 
 
 KILLEEN, Texas – Just an hour north of Austin, members of the Killeen Heights Rotary Club and the Central Texas  Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America received a special visit from Texas Adjutant General, Maj. Gen.  John F. Nichols on March 16, 2012.
 
 Nichols illustrated the role of the Texas Military Forces in both state and federal missions, and explained how the Texas  Army National Guard, Texas Air National Guard and the Texas State Guard operate as a joint force. From performing  search and rescue missions, evacuation and re-entry support and providing shelter and mass care management, one  message was prevalent.
 
 “We are citizen-soldiers from all over the state of Texas here to help our citizens in times of need or disasters,” said  Nichols. “When you get out there and help them get off their roof, get them out of the water; there is no greater feeling  than helping our citizens.” 
 
 With the wildfires in Bastrop and other counties throughout the state, more recent examples of circumstances in which  the Texas Military Forces was called in for support, Nichols emphasized that the organization is simply a small piece of  the puzzle providing assistance in conjunction with other interagency partners. While our aviators dropped more than  two million gallons of water out of helicopters in treacherous conditions, our role was secondary to that of the Texas  Parks and Wildlife organization.
 
 “During the Bastrop fires we had 600 firefighters from around the nation at Camp Swift, with members from our forces  helping to coordinate shelter” said Nichols.
 Jim Bondi, president elect for the Killeen Heights Rotary Club stated that, “This presentation reminds us all of the  contributions the National Guard provides the state, and us close to Fort Hood, and also shows how organizations  partner together and the importance of the citizens of Texas.” 
 Although the mission of the Texas Military Forces is to provide the governor and the president with ready and fully  trained forces, Nichols’ goal is to also build and strengthen relationships not only with the residents of Killeen and Fort Hood, but the communities across the state.