Texas National Guard and Chilean Partners Celebrate 10 years of Partnership

Story by Brandon Jones

Texas military leaders and Chilean military leaders pose for a photo at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, April 12, 2019. The Texas National Guard and Chilean armed forces converged in Austin, Texas to discuss and celebrate their partnership that started one decade ago. As part of the annual State Partnership Program Planning meeting, the parties met to discuss, plan and establish agreed upon activities, in both countries, for the year ahead. The events, held throughout the year, focus on disaster/emergency response; aviation operations, maintenance and safety; military medical and engineer activities; as well as leadership, staff, officer and noncommissioned officer development.
Texas military leaders and Chilean military leaders pose for a photo at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas, April 12, 2019. The Texas National Guard and Chilean armed forces converged in Austin, Texas to discuss and celebrate their partnership that started one decade ago. As part of the annual State Partnership Program Planning meeting, the parties met to discuss, plan and establish agreed upon activities, in both countries, for the year ahead. The events, held throughout the year, focus on disaster/emergency response; aviation operations, maintenance and safety; military medical and engineer activities; as well as leadership, staff, officer and noncommissioned officer development.

AUSTIN, Texas- It is a well-known fact the National Guard’s core mission includes fighting America’s wars and securing the homeland, but perhaps a lesser-known mission is that of building enduring partnerships. 

From April 10-13, 2019, members of the Texas National Guard and Chilean Armed Forces converged in Austin, Texas to discuss and celebrate their partnership that started one decade ago. As part of the Annual State Partnership Program Planning Meeting, the parties met to discuss, plan and establish agreed upon activities, in both countries, for the year ahead. The events, held throughout the year, focus on disaster/emergency response; aviation operations, maintenance, and safety; military medical and engineer activities; as well as leadership, staff, officer and noncommissioned officer development. 

“Both our state and their nation have significant responsibilities with regards to disaster response, and experience is often one of the best teachers so what better way to support one another than helping to share and improve upon best practices,” said Maj. Mark White, State Partnership Program Director, Texas Military Department. “An experience our Soldiers and Airmen value, a great secondary benefit to SPP is the exchanging of our cultures and what makes Chile and Texas special places respectively. We create lifelong friendships through every event together.”

In addition to planning events for the fiscal year 2020, this trip included multiple activities commemorating the tenth anniversary of the partnership. On April 12, 2019, the Chilean delegation was presented with a proclamation from the Deputy Secretary of State of Texas, Jose A. Esparza, recognizing and honoring the important partnership between the Texas National Guard and the Republic of Chile. This same group was furthered honored on the House floor of the Texas Capitol prior to signing the formal agreement on the steps of the Texas Capitol. 

“Today’s events, in which representatives from Texas and Chile were standing side-by-side, exemplify the solidarity of our commitment to the program and one another,” said White. “In 2020 we will jointly execute over 40 SPP events in both of our countries as we start our second decade of partnership which strives to be the model for SPP in SOUTHCOM.”

In a Strategic Studies Quarterly article published in 2018 Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, stated SPP is future focused and adaptive to geopolitical changes. Lengyel says NGB has seen the program grow from assisting nations in developing more modern and professional militaries functioning under civilian control to partnerships that look to deepen interoperability with complementary capabilities and forces.

"Beyond the military benefits, we have witnessed the fruits of these relationships as they help the United States maintain and grow its alliances across the globe through enduring and personal relationships," said Lengyel. "What began as a program of 10 partnerships in Eastern Europe has spread across five continents and currently encompasses approximately one-third of the nations in the world."

As part of the program and in addition to Chile, the Texas and Nebraska National Guards share a partnership with the Czech Republic. In 2018, the Czech Armed Forces and its state partners commemorated the 25th anniversary of the union. Under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program there are currently 76 partnerships in place and support to 83 nations around the globe.


My name is Tracy Keating Ward.  I am one of the therapists with the Texas Military Department.  I have been asked to write a “blog” on forgiveness. Looking back on my career of 22 years as a therapist I have worked in many places:  prisons, probation offices, parole offices, pain clinics and here at Camp Mabry.  What I have learned in the area of “forgiveness” is that FORGIVENESS IS THE BEST MEDICINE.  

    As I see it, Forgiveness comes in many forms.  There is offering forgiveness to those who have hurt you.  There is requesting forgiveness from those you have hurt.  There is requesting forgiveness from your Higher Power.  And last, but not least, there is forgiveness for yourself. One thing I do know is that we all make mistakes.  These mistakes hurt others.  These mistakes also can be the agent to bring about change and healing.

    Years ago, when I worked in the criminal justice arena, all my clients were convicted felons.  One day I heard a young chaplain speaking to a group of my clients.  He started his talk by saying, “Hello Brothers.”  This was such a compassionate kind and totally unexpected greeting.  These men looked at themselves as the worse of the worse.  For a chaplain to refer to them with the sincere greeting of “Brothers” made a huge difference.  As the chaplain talked he referred to self responsibility and said something I have never forgotten.  He said, “When you offended, you offended against your own self.”  HUH?  For a moment I thought he meant to say… “When you offended, you offended against your victim, your family, and your community.”  Hurt themselves?  How?  How is this true?  I had never had this thought or spent anytime in therapy sessions looking at how their actions had impacted their own self.  I had completely left my client’s healing out of the equation.  The chaplain continued by saying that each time we hurt someone we hurt our own soul.  What an interesting concept.  We have to be held responsible for how we treat ourselves, not just others.  WE EACH MATTER.

    My next place of employment was a Pain Clinic.  I saw 6-8 clients a day who suffered from various degrees of chronic pain.  Research states that 70 to 80 percent of all people who suffer from chronic pain have an unresolved traumatic event in their past.  I witness each day how people’s anger, sadness, fear, and resentment all impeded their desire to forgive and their bodies just did not heal.  I also witness people choosing to forgive those that hurt them (many times these were family members who were suppose to love and protect them) and then close the door on the past.  They did not deny that the trauma occurred or that they were not hurt.  Just the opposite.  They chose to accept that they were hurt (abused), that it happened in the past, that they no longer wanted to spend anymore of the present time concentrating on the trauma and that they forgave the person by “wishing them well and wishing them no harm” (a version of agape love or the love you give to your neighbor).  Many were people of faith and they made the decision to let their Higher Power be the True Judge of the situation.  As for themselves, they chose to give up their desire for vengeance and with it the anger and resentment that accompanied it. I saw these client’s pain reduce, their bodies heal, and their mind’s become still and peaceful.  Sometimes we don’t even realize how much of TODAY we lose by reliving the ugly events of yesterday.  

    Now working with soldiers I experience another type of struggle with forgiveness.  Forgiving yourself.  Soldiers tend to forgive others much easier than they forgive themselves.  That may be due to the fact that they have a higher level of standard for themselves than they do for others.  By the time a soldier comes to a therapy session with me he/she has usually struggled with their own guilt and shame for a while, even to the point of suicide.  I love to share with the soldiers the following quote:

    We think that we feel regret about a mistake then ask for forgiveness, when actually the forgiveness has already been sent, that is why we feel the regret. 
Sufi Saint 

    I love this quote because it brings so much relief and so much grace.  Within minutes many of the soldier’s eyes tear up.  There is mercy in the quote because for many they had thought they had committed the “unforgivable sin.”  That thought leads to depression, separation, and hopelessness.  Forgiveness of yourself leads to healing. 

    So in conclusion, here is what I have learned about Forgiveness from my best teachers...my clients.

•    Forgiveness is the best medicine… and it is free, no prescription needed.
•    All of us have made mistakes and need to request forgiveness sometime in our lives.
•    We have a responsibility to care for ourselves and when we offend against others we offend against ourselves and need to forgive ourselves too. 
•    You cannot fool the body.  It won’t heal when it is angry, resentful, fearful or sad. 
•    Forgiveness brings tremendous healing for our body, mind and soul.
•    If all possible, forgive then shut the door to the past.  Doing so will make room to enjoy the present.

If you want to discuss more about the Healing Aspects of Forgiveness talk to a therapist, chaplain, or your spiritual leader.  What do you have to lose, except a lot of pain.


Tracy K. Ward, LPC-S

Texas Air Guard concludes Aviation Rotation 19 1 in Poland

Story by Tech. Sgt. Kristina Overton

1st Lt. Chad Douglass, 181st Airlift Squadron C-130H2 Hercules co-pilot, mans the controls above the Polish countryside during a formation flight with the Polish Air Force on March 13, 2019. 136th Airlift Wing members travelled to Poland in support of Aviation Rotation 19.1 in an effort to increase threat response capabilities with the Polish Air Force. (Air National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Kornegay/released)
1st Lt. Chad Douglass, 181st Airlift Squadron C-130H2 Hercules co-pilot, mans the controls above the Polish countryside during a formation flight with the Polish Air Force on March 13, 2019. 136th Airlift Wing members traveled to Poland in support of Aviation Rotation 19.1 in an effort to increase threat response capabilities with the Polish Air Force. (Air National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean Kornegay/released)

The last aircraft touched down on the runway ramp, as pilots from the 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard and Polish air force concluded training for Aviation Rotation 19.1, in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. During the exercise, Airmen strengthened capabilities between U.S. and NATO allies through participation in strategic joint force operations and training to enhance partner interoperability and maintain combined readiness.

These rotations have proven vital in maintaining theater security by increasing overall presence and further enhancing the U.S.'s commitment to NATO partners such as Poland.

“The exercise was very successful," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Mull, 136th Airlift Wing deployed squadron commander. "You have two countries that are very interested in bilateral training, and though the 136th Airlift Wing has never flown with the Polish Air Force before, their expertise merged seamlessly with ours as far as the execution of the tactical airlift mission goes. Typical to any of our operations, we overcame weather and maintenance, and were able to accomplish some excellent training together.”

Throughout the Aviation Rotation, the two air forces were able to engage in a number of combined training events: formation flights in C-130 Hercules aircraft, fighter engagements with Polish F-16 Fighting Falcons, combat offloads, and high velocity container delivery system drops. Training together facilitated a platform to build relationships, and formed a conduit for the exchange information and skills useful in future operations.

“We are happy that Airmen from the 136th Airlift Wing were here with us,” said Col. Grzegorz Kołodziejczyk, Powidz Air Base commander. “We are always happy to work with Texas. You have been flying the C-130 longer than us, and you gave us your knowledge. Thank you again for your visit — you are always welcome here at Powidz.”

During a ceremony, the Polish Air Force hosted a celebratory dinner for the entire team. Both air forces expressed their gratitude for the experience and presented each other with parting mementos.

“One of the Polish flight patches they gave us says 'Razem Silniejsi,' which translates to 'Stronger Together,'" Mull said. "The saying is 100 years old, and American Airmen have been flying alongside the Polish Air Force since 1919. We understand the importance of our mission here for both of our countries, and we look forward to continuing our work together in the future.”

Managing Conflict in Relationships

Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
-Horace Mann

Drs. John and Julie Gottman are famous marriage researchers in the world of psychology and therapy. Both doctors have put in over four decades of research into the topic of relationships, marriage, conflict, and more. 

Conflict in relationships can leave a person feeling inept, frustrated, and angry. 
 “Dr. John Gottman’s Six Skills of Conflict Management” are helpful tools when dealing with conflict. They are outlined below.

1. Soften Startup
•    How an individual starts a discussion in the first few moments will make a difference on how the conflict will end. 
•    Ask yourself if you can be in a comfortable place when having your discussion.
•    If the conflict will be about a particularly inflammatory topic find some place relatively safe or neutral for the both of you. For example, don’t talk about money in your bedroom.  
•    When communicating in relationships, it is important to not attack, or blame the other individual. Try to communicate in the way that you would like to also be communicated with by the other person.   

2. Accept Influence
•    A person’s approach makes a significant impact on the outcome of the argument. Being able to try to see the circumstance from the other’s person perspective may help diffuse the conflict. 
•    Give your partner your full attention. Turn off or put down any distracting technology. Lean in towards your partner a little bit. Let your body language send a message of connection – especially if you are concerned that the topic may create distance initially.
•    Don’t interrupt! Stay focused, attentive, and connected. Even if you don’t particularly like or simply don’t agree with what is being said. Hang in there and keep your focus on the overarching goal of honest communication – a better relationship.

3. Make Effective Repairs During the Conflict
•    Make statements that start with these aspects in mind.
•    “I feel…scared/insulted/like you don’t understand.” 
•    “I need to calm down.”
•    “Let me try again.”
•    “I want to say this.”
•    “I really messed up.”
•    “I appreciate…”

4. De-escalate
•    Complain instead of blaming your spouse. For example:
•    Blame-“You never do what you say you are going to do.”
•    Complain-“The other day we agreed that this was your responsibility. It still isn’t done and I feel really upset about this.”
•    Blame- “You never do anything with the baby.”
•    Complain- “I feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Can you pick a couple things to do with the baby to help me out?”
•    Reflect back to your partner what you think your partner is saying. Check in with your partner to make sure you are hearing the overall message, not just the words. Say, “What I hear you saying is…” or “If I understand you correctly, than I think you feel…” This lets your partner know that you really care about the message being conveyed and that you are invested in making sure you heard it accurately. 

5. Psychological Soothing of Self and Partner
•    Use “I feel” statements instead of “you.” 
•    “I feel like we should make a budget.”
•    “I feel like you don’t care about me, when you don’t ask me about my day after work.”
•    “I feel like I don’t get your undivided attention when I am talking to you.”
•    Focus on your breathing. Make sure that you are breathing all the way in and all the way out. Breathe into your belly.
•    Stretch your neck, arms, and shoulders when you are feeling yourself getting upset.

6. Compromise 
•    Describe what you see in the situation and ask the other individual to also describe what they see. Continue to do that until you can come to a compromise that makes the both of you satisfied. 
•    If there’s a problem that you are trying to solve, communicate your ideas for solutions with tentativeness. 
•    “Well, perhaps we could try…”
•     “What if I did . . . and you did  . . .” 
•    “I’m stuck. What do you think we need to do next?”
•    Be polite and appreciate. Acknowledge ways that the other person is communicating in a helpful manner. 
•    Conflict does not mean that individuals cannot give compliments or use “please” and “thank you” during the conversation. Remember that being “right” isn’t what is important but becoming a better communicator, feeling validated, and creating a compromise that will help both of you feel heard. 
Improved communication leads to various areas of personal growth
•    Deeper emotional connection
•    Growth in empathy towards others
•    Confidence
•    Active listening skills
•    Get along better with others
•    Better boundaries
•    Ability to approach conflict in a calm manner

My hope is that you can take this information and utilize it in a way that applies to your relationships with friends, family, and significant others. Start small and find what works for you. Don’t be afraid of changing it to make it your own, but continue working on how to develop healthier communication patterns in your own life. 

Texas Counterdrug Guardsmen educate Burnet Middle School students at wellness fair

-A student of Burnet Middle School holds a Texas National Guard Counterdrug Task Force t-shirt BURNET, Texas---A student of Burnet Middle School holds a Texas National Guard Counterdrug Task Force t-shirt during Join the Journey’s Safe and Drug Free Wellness Fair in Burnet, Texas, February 7, 2019. Sgt. Irma Flores and Spc. Jacob Raygo of the Texas National Guard Joint Counterdrug Task Force supported the event. The Task Force members encouraged students to try on fatal vision goggles and try to catch a ball. The exercise is intended to educate them on the negative effects of drug and alcohol use. The Join the Journey fair began 6 years ago with the goal of addressing drug use in the community. Local law enforcement, coalitions and wellness organizations also attended the event. Counterdrug Task Force members routinely partner and participate in drug use awareness and prevention events to educate their local communities.


Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

Texas Defense Guard (Texas State Guard files, Camp Mabry Museum, Austin, Texas)When World War II erupted in Europe in 1939, the National Guard was called into active service on September 16, 1940.  Once the National Guard was federalized, states felt unprotected and argued that they needed military units to serve within each state’s boundaries and protect their property and residents.
Congress responded by amending the National Defense Act of 1916.  The 1940 “State Guard Amendment” authorized states to create and maintain defense forces for protection and enforce territorial police power. The mission of state guards was to provide an adequately trained force for deployment within the boundaries and jurisdictions of their respective states as directed by the state executive or legislature, maintain laws, suppress disorders, protect the life and property of individuals within the state, vital industries, installations, and communication facilities, meet domestic emergencies including natural and war disasters, prevent and suppress activities of enemy agents, cooperate with federal military authorities in extreme emergencies and perform other duties as were assigned to the National Guard when not in federal service.

The types and numbers of each state guard was left to the decision of the states. The War Department would supervise and direct training, issuing weapons, jeeps, trucks, ambulances and other supplies as needed. State guards were to be demobilized or disbanded as National Guard units returned to home from the war.  The War Department also placed the supervision of state guard forces under the National Guard Bureau, ensuring rules and regulations that applied to the National Guard, including courts martial and punishments applied to state defense forces. 
Brig. Gen. L. F. Guerre, Director, Security and Intelligence Division, Eighth Service Command, Army Service Forces, stated that the Texas State Guard “was conceived as a wartime necessity and which serves a patriotic purpose to back the war effort with patriotic service on the home front.”

Following the passage of the “State Guard Amendment,” Texas Governor O’Daniel authorized the Adjutant General of Texas Brig. Gen. John Watt Page to formulate plans to organize the state defense force, including provisional appointment of commissioned officers and informal enlistment of personnel. By the end of 1940, Texas had 173 companies consisting of 500 officers and 6,000 enlisted men. Anticipating the passage of the Texas Defense Guard Act, O’Daniel named Page as the commander of the state defense force. The 47th Texas Legislature and O’Daniel quickly passed the requisite enabling law, the “Texas Defense Guard Act 1941,” which created and organized the Texas Defense Guard on February 10, 1941.  This act authorized the governor to organize and maintain a state guard when deemed necessary to defend the state and to prescribe rules and regulations governing enlistment, organization, administration, uniforms, equipment, maintenance, training and discipline. The act also permitted the ability to secure arms, equipment or other government property for its protection. The emergency appropriation for the state guard was $65,000.

The guard was composed of officers and able-bodied males who were citizens of the United States. To keep from interfering with Army recruiting efforts, state guard enlistment focused on older citizens, World War I veterans, non-prior service civilians, businessmen, defense workers, merchants, farmers and young men not eligible for federal service. They enlisted for three years without pay, except when on state active duty, and all had to meet U. S. Army physical training standards. Anyone dishonorably discharged from a federal service or civilian organization was barred from enlistment.

Under the act, the governor requisitioned arms and equipment from the War Department and made state armories available to the state guard. Other funds, armories, equipment, material and transportation were supplemented by county courts, cities, communities and civic and patriotic organizations. 

The state guard served only within the boundaries of Texas and could not be called or ordered into federal military service. The governor, however, had the authority to order the guard to assist military or police forces of another state in pursuit of insurrectionists, saboteurs, enemies or enemy forces into another state and to permit other states the right of pursuit into Texas by mutual agreement between the states.

The organization of the state guard quickly took shape.  The state guard uniforms and ranks were identical to the U. S. Army, and State Guardsmen wore the Texas Defense Guard patch on their left arms.  

The plan for the state guard was to establish battalions across the state. If a town or county wanted a unit, local organizations, such as the city council and veterans’ groups, submitted an application describing the strategic importance of locating a unit there and submitted an incident command structure. Denver City and Yoakum County pointed out the importance to protect vital war industries and installations, oil well fields, pipeline stations, a Texas-New Mexico power plant and tank batteries for oil storage in their area. By 1942 50 battalions were established.

With enlistments skyrocketing to 17,497 in the first year, the Texas Defense Guard increased training to 150 hours in 1942.  The Eighth Army Service Command provided training materials and films, while Army instructors held schools for officers and non-commissioned officers at Camp Mabry and Camp Bullis. Training covered military conduct, discipline, camp sanitation, personal hygiene, first aid and the use of chemical masks against chemical attack and toxic gasses. Guardsmen learned the basics of march and bivouacs, dismounted drill, interior and special guard duty, sentinel on post, extended order (whistle, hand signals, arm signals) and orderly deployment. They practiced how to care for equipment, pitch a tent, build and dig field fortifications, trenches and foxholes, create camouflage, read a map, guard vital installations, conduct night operations, form the squad edge and squad diagonal tactical formations and identify German, Japanese and Italian aircraft.  

Weapons training for Guardsmen included an eight-hour course on the use of the Springfield .30-6 caliber M1903 five-round magazine-fed, bolt action repeating rifle and seven hours of M1928A1 Thompson .45 cartridge submachine gun, the famous “Tommy Gun,” which had a reputation for accuracy and high-volume fire.

Needing the Springfield rifles for the war in the Pacific, the War Department took back the rifles and distributed shotguns as replacements. In 1943 the shotgun became the principal State Guard weapon authorized for brush fighting, patrolling from cars or trucks during night, fog and rain operations and street fighting. Hand-grenade training included fake hairbrush grenades and potato mashers. At one point, the State Guard considered training with explosive devices made by a Boston fireworks factory but decided to use fake grenades instead for safety and economy.

Page stated that the importance of the Texas Defense Guard as a second line of American defense was “not be to underestimated. Our guard officers will be taught how to meet the same problems which beset the low countries of Europe preceding the Nazi invasion. Holland and France were taken unawares but we here in Texas will be prepared for any eventuality.”

The Texas Defense Guard, only months after being created and with many units still being organized, faced its first big test as a defense force during the Houston Gulf Coast Hurricane on September 22-23, 1941. Over 500 guardsmen rescued victims, transported people to safe locations, patrolled streets armed with rifles, prevented looting, directed traffic in flooded locations, provided first aid and assisted local authorities. The Texas Defense Guard was the sole agency to maintain radio communication with the public and local agencies throughout the storm.  Located at Palacios, Texas, 1st Lt. J. C. Johnson of Houston, Radio Division, Texas Defense Guard, was the only source of communication along the Texas coast throughout the night. Broadcasting on his portable radio, he reported on weather conditions every 15 minutes as the storm approached and stayed in contact with Houston and Austin. 

“If the Texas Defense Guard had not mobilized at 7 pm and contributed their services, we never would have been able to handle the situation alone,” stated the Houston police chief.

Once the storm had passed, the Texas Defense Guard Aviation Branch conducted an aerial survey of storm damage and flooding. On September 24, Texas State Guard Aviation Branch pilot, Capt. N. E. Meador, piloted the first airplane to leave any Houston airport. Meador, along with two additional Aviation Branch pilots, provided the first aerial photographs and damage reports from the hurricane strike area. This information was vital to how and where local emergency authorities responded.  
In 1943 the 48th Texas Legislature and Texas Governor Coke Stevenson amended the Texas Defense Guard Act. The Texas Defense Guard was renamed the Texas State Guard. The official shoulder patch was the “T-Patch,” still worn today by the State Guard. The Texas Adjutant General during the Stevenson administration, Brig. Gen. A. B. Knickerbocker, was named the commander of the Texas State Guard. At this point, the Texas State Guard had 48 battalions, a rifle company, headquarters, service and medical detachments.

The Texas State Guard continued to provide support to civilian authorities until the end of World War II. Guardsmen responded to hurricanes, civil disorder and riots such as the Beaumont Riot in 1943, tornadoes, such as the one that struck Crowell in 1942 and remained ready to protect Texans from harm. 

From the beginning of the Texas Defense Guard, Guardsmen volunteered as true citizen-Soldiers and served their fellow citizens in times of emergency. They were not seeking pay or glory but a sense of patriotism and service.

Work Life Balance

How many times have you felt you were being pulled in too many directions?  In today’s tech-infused world it has become commonplace to see individuals working on their cellphones, tablets, and laptops while at airports, restaurants, libraries and even at the park.  This leaves very little time for family, friends, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, and other personal activities.  In addition, many of you have to squeeze military obligations into a schedule that is already filled to the brim.  According to Susan Heathfield, Human Resources, “work-life balance is a concept that describes the ideal of splitting one's time and energy between work and other important aspects of life”.

Work/life imbalance
o        Feeling overwhelmed with having too much to do
o        Frequently tired and getting inadequate amounts of sleep
o        Difficulty in finding time to spend with family and friends
o        Irritability 
o        No time for self-care
o        Struggling to focus
o        Unable to remember the last time you had fun

According to Mayo Clinic the following are consequences of poor work-life balance:

o    Fatigue. When you're tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly might suffer — which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous or costly mistakes. 
o    Poor health. Stress is associated with adverse effects on the immune system and can worsen the symptoms you experience from any medical condition. Stress also puts you at risk of substance abuse.
o    Lost time with friends and loved ones. If you're working too much, you might miss important family events or milestones. This can leave you feeling left out and might harm relationships with your loved ones. It's also difficult to nurture friendships if you're always working.
o    Increased expectations. If you regularly work extra hours, you might be given more responsibility — which could lead to additional concerns and challenges.

Restoring Balance
Juggling the demands of your career, military obligations and personal life will probably be an ongoing challenge. But if you can learn both to set limits and look after yourself, you can achieve the work-life balance that's best for you. Mayo Clinic suggests the following to help restore work-life balance:

o    Manage your time. Cut or delegate activities you don't enjoy or can't handle. Do what needs to be done and let the rest go.
o    Make a list. Put family events on a weekly calendar, and keep a daily to-do list at home and at work. Having a plan helps you maintain focus.  
o    Learn to say no. Whether it's a co-worker asking you to spearhead an extra project or your child's teacher asking you to organize a class party, remember that it's OK to respectfully say no. When you quit accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation, you'll have more time for activities that are meaningful to you.
o    Leave work at work. With the technology to connect to anyone at any time from virtually anywhere, there might be no boundary between work and home — unless you create it.  
o    Reduce email access. Check emails no more than three times a day — late morning, early afternoon and late in the day. If you access email first thing in the morning, you tend to focus on and respond to other people's issues rather than being proactive about your own needs.
o    Ask your employer about flex hours, a compressed workweek, job sharing, telecommuting or other scheduling flexibility. The more control you have over your hours, the less stressed you're likely to be.
o    Take care of yourself.  Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and make time for fun and relaxation. Set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, such as practicing yoga or reading. Better yet, discover activities you can do with your partner, family or friends — such as hiking, dancing or taking cooking classes.

Remember, striking a healthy work-life balance isn't a one-shot deal. Creating work-life balance is a continuous process as your family, interests and work life change. Periodically examine your priorities — and make changes, if necessary.

Lastly, know when to seek professional help. We all need help from time to time. There may come a time when you just want to vent and have someone who is willing to listen. There may be a time when life feels too chaotic to manage and you're consumed with worry, talk with a professional — such as a counselor or other mental health provider. 


Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

Child getting a gift from a soldier In its 10th year, the Texas State Guard “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive 2018 brought joy and happiness to thousands of children across Texas by collecting and delivering 82,176 toys to pediatric hospitals, children’s homes, women’s shelters, schools, and Ronald McDonald Houses.  

Since the Texas State Guard launched the toy drive in 2009, guardsmen have delivered a total of 244,911 toys over the past ten years.  The toy drive has grown from the first collection that delivered 2,400 toys to children in hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex to delivering 82,176 toys to children across the state in 2018, which exceeded this year's goal of 75,000.

This year's successful drive meant more toys were delivered to more children in more cities and towns.  For the first time toys were delivered to children in the Rio Grande Valley. 
"Each year the Texas State Guard Young Heroes of the Guard Toy Drive collects more toys because of the generosity of our fellow Texans," said Sgt. 1st Class John Gately, Texas State Guard statewide coordinator. "The willingness of everyone to help make a child smile with a new toy is truly heartwarming.  We plan to continue to collect even more toys each year so that we can spread joy to more children in Texas."

The toy drive starts every November when guardsmen start placing toy drive collection boxes at stores, churches, and businesses. When the toy drive collection ends in early December, Texas State Guard units, at their local armories across the state, begin sorting toys by age groups and then start delivering toys throughout December and into early January.

For the last two years, Five Below has been a toy drive sponsor by making their stores available for collection boxes.  Walmart stores also had collection sites.  At these locations, store patrons can donate toys that they have just purchased at the stores.  Another corporate partner was Hess Corporation which has donated 7,000 Hess toy trucks to the Young Heroes of the Guard toy drive since 2017. 
The toy drive's success also meant that the hospitals, shelters, and other beneficiaries of the toy drive will have plenty of toys to surprise children with gifts for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.  

"The toys that the Texas State Guard gives to children in the hospitals and shelters not only provide a happier holiday and Christmas, but the impact is also felt all through the year," Capt. Douglas Richardson, the chaplain for the 8th Regiment said.  "A toy lifts a child's spirit.  Parents and guardians see their children's faces brighten and the positive impact these toys have on the well-being of the children.   This is the finest mission of the Texas State Guard." 

For more information on the Texas State Guard “Young Heroes of the Guard” Toy Drive, please visit the toy drive website at http://www.txsgtoydrive.org/.  

Will My Marriage Survive?

Healthy Relationships

Do you ever wonder …?  “Will my marriage make it?  Will it survive?”  Considering that approximately 50% of all marriages in America end in divorce, this is a good question to contemplate.  

What if I told you there is a man who can observe you and your partner arguing for just a mere 15 minutes and with 85% accuracy predict whether the two of you two will divorce or stay married.  If he observes you for a longer period of time his prediction rate goes over 90%.  AMAZING right?  How does he do it?  Crystal Ball?  Tarot Cards? ESP?  All good guesses, but not correct.  

Dr. John Gottman, PhD and his colleagues observed thousands of couples and paired research techniques with mathematical calculations to devise a method to predict whether a couple would divorce or stay together. Lucky for us he published numerous studies, papers and created the Gottman Institute in order to teach couples how to stay happily married and avoid the pitfalls that often lead to divorce.
Through his research Dr. Gottman observed and noted several distinct negative behaviors that are destructive to a marriage and increased the likelihood of divorce. He also calculated positive behaviors that not only enriched the marriage but protected the couple from the impact of negative behaviors.

Dr. Gottman refers to the most destructive negative behaviors as The Four Horseman. (Yes, just like The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse in the New Testament.)  The Gottman Four Horseman consist of:

  • Criticism
  • Defensiveness
  • Contempt
  • Stonewalling

Recognize any of these?  Have you ever used one or two of them when in a heated argument?  Most likely the answer is yes.  According to Dr. Gottman all marriages use some negative behavior. “No relationship is negative free.”  It is also helpful to note that all couples argue. The key is to be aware of The Four Horseman, reduce the number of times you use them, learn to repair after the argument and increase the positive behaviors (also called the Antidotes) which can protect the marriage.

Let's talk about Criticism:

Criticism blames the partner.  It attacks their character.  When we criticize, we tend to use YOU statements and allude that YOU are the problem.  Criticism is different than a complaint.  A complaint is about an issue or a situation whereas a criticism attacks the person.

One of the Antidotes to Criticism is to use “I” statements, and express what you feel and need.  If you have a complaint, try to state it without blame.

Complaint:  “I was worried when you did not call me each night to check in while you were traveling.  I thought we had agreed on checking in nightly.”

Criticism:  “You never think about me.  You are so selfish.  You don't think of anyone except yourself.  What about me?  You were probably having a great time why I was at home worrying.”

Be aware of a pattern of criticizing (blaming the other spouse, and/or attacking their character) because criticizing can be habit forming and an invitation to the other Horseman to operate.

The Second Horseman is Defensiveness.  Many times when we feel criticized we react with defensiveness.  A defensive comeback a type of self-protection which promotes reversing the blame onto the other partner.  This type of communication can progress into finger pointing and very little resolution.

The Antidote for Defensiveness is taking responsibility.  Even if it is for a very small part of the conflict. When we take responsibility it is like pouring water on fire.  It puts out the burn of the conflict and the chance of escalation.  It also sets a tone for cooperation or creating some type of solution.

Question:  Did you make Lori’s dentist appointment today?

Defensiveness:  You know how busy I was today.  You could have made it?  Why didn’t you just pick up the phone at make the appointment for her yourself? 

Taking Responsibility:  No, I didn’t.  I told you I would handle it but I got busy today and forgot.  I will call right now.  

The Third Horseman is Contempt. This Horseman is the deadliest of all the Horseman and the biggest predictor of divorce. Contempt is stronger and meaner than criticism.  It involves sarcasm, disrespect, name calling, taking down to your partner, mockery, insults, eye rolling and hostile humor.  Contempt is both destructive and defeating and contains a level of moral superiority.  Contempt is fed by allowing yourself to think and ruminate about your partner in a negative manner for long periods of time. Pay attention when you are churning negative thoughts about your partner and bring the thoughts to a halt. Your partner or marriage doesn't have a chance against nonstop negative thoughts.  

REMEMBER, negative thoughts breed Contempt and Contempt is the biggest predictor of DIVORCE.  

The Antidote to Contempt is to create an environment of respect, gratitude, appreciation and fondness. Contempt cannot survive or thrive in an environment of respect. Make a habit of thinking kind thoughts about your partner. Make your eyes look for good in your partner’s actions and appearance.  Take time to notice how your spouse contributes to the marriage then compliment them and or say thank you. Making these positive changes to your pattern of thinking and responding positively can make a difference. Research states that healthy marriages have a ratio of 5 positive behaviors to every 1 negative behavior.  Whereas the marriages that end in divorce have a ratio of .8 positive behaviors to 1 negative behavior (meaning they have more negative behaviors than positive behaviors).  

The Fourth Horseman is Stonewalling.  Stonewalling involves emotionally withdrawing from your partner, looking uninterested in their communication, or no longer responding verbally... to name just a few.  Imagine someone walking out of the discussion, or crossing their arms and acting like they are no longer listening.  Or turning to their phone, while you are talking, and checking their e-mails.  All these are a type of Stonewalling.  The Fourth Horseman may show up when a partner becomes overwhelmed and begins to shutdown physically and emotionally.  
The Antidote for Stonewalling is a Time-Out period.  Research states that it takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes for a person who is overwhelmed to begin to regulate (or calm) their emotional state.  When we get overwhelmed (and it does happen) it is difficult to think straight, to listen well or respond appropriately.  When we feel overwhelmed it is best to verbalize that you are overwhelmed or agitated and need a little time to calm down.  An agreement by both partners to return to the conversation after the time-out makes the time-out period more productive.  During your time-out period choose an activity that helps calm you or soothe you:  reading, exercising, stretching, breathing, watching tv, meditating, doing a simple chore etc.  Remember, watch your thoughts.  Try not to have thoughts of “I’m right.”  Or “Why does she always do this to me?  These thoughts will not calm you down.  They will keep you in a state of agitation. The key is to take the time to calm down so the two of you can think clearly and listen to each other.   

Dr. Gottman noted that one way to protect your relationship is to strengthen your friendship. Knowing and being interested in your partner develops friendship and a deeper level of intimacy.  What does he or she love?  What's important to him/her?  What stresses her/him out?  What are their dreams? Taking time to really know them, understand them, and enjoy them increases the friendship and protects your marriage.  

So to review…..  To increase your odds of remaining together in a happy marriage and reduce your chances of getting a divorce…. Avoid using The Four Horseman (Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling) and increase your Appreciation, Fondness and Respect for each other on a daily basis.   

For more information on the Gottman Institute go to https://www.gottman.com/

Staff Sgt Gregory Illich and Sgt Miranda Leal are the Outstanding Enlisted Members of the Texas State Guard for 2018

Story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Janet Schmelzer, Texas State Guard

Texas State Guard Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich, 8th Regiment, Army Component, was recognized as  the Texas State Guard Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year 2018 and awarded the Texas Outstanding Service Medal by Texas State Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Bodisch, and Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan Becknel during a ceremony held at the Texas State Guard holiday gala in San Marcos, Texas, December 8, 2018.  He was also recognized as the Texas State Guard Army Component Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of 2018 and received “Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for Service Excellence.”  (Texas State Guard photo by Cpl. Shawn Dromgoole)
Texas State Guard Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich, 8th Regiment, Army Component, was recognized as  the Texas State Guard Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year 2018 and awarded the Texas Outstanding Service Medal by Texas State Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Bodisch, and Command Sgt. Maj. Bryan Becknel during a ceremony held at the Texas State Guard holiday gala in San Marcos, Texas, December 8, 2018.  He was also recognized as the Texas State Guard Army Component Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of 2018 and received “Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for Service Excellence.”  (Texas State Guard photo by Cpl. Shawn Dromgoole)

AUSTIN, Texas—The Texas State Guard recognized Staff Sgt. Gregory Illich, 8th Regiment, and Sgt. Miranda Leal, 2nd Regiment, as the outstanding enlisted members of the Texas State Guard for 2018 during the Texas State Guard holiday gala in San Marcos, Texas, December 8, 2018.

Staff Sgt. Illich was recognized as the Texas State Guard Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year for 2018 and received the Texas Outstanding Service Medal, which is awarded to a service member of the military forces of this state, another state, or the United States who has performed service in a superior and clearly outstanding manner. Illich was also recognized as the Texas State Guard Army Component’s Outstanding Non-commissioned Officer of 2018 and received the “Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for Service Excellence.” 

“I am humbled and honored to be recognized as the Texas State Guard Outstanding Non-commissioned Officer for 2018 and as the Army Component’s Outstanding Non-commissioned Officer for 2018 and receive the Texas Outstanding Service Medal and the “Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for Service Excellence. It is through the support and leadership of those around me that my achievements are possible.  It is a great honor to be recognized in this way. I am honored to serve Texas and I appreciate the opportunity given me by the Texas State Guard,” stated Staff Sgt. Illich.

Illich joined the Texas State Guard in 2012.  He serves as the 8th Regiment Public Affairs Officer, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 8th Regiment Honor Guard, a trainer for Texas State Guard shelter management, WEBEOC, and the Emergency Tracking Network mission skills, a Texas State Guard lead evaluator and instructor for the Ground Search and Rescue training and certification program of the National Association for Search and Rescue, a member of the Texas State Guard Band and a band recruiter in the Houston area.  He previously served as the non-commissioned officer for communications and information technology, 1st Battalion, 8th Regiment and a Unit Public Affairs Representative, providing superior support to recruiting and social media.  During Hurricane Harvey in 2017 he was a member of the Texas Military Department Public Affairs pool and was deployed in the disaster zone to cover the story. 
Illich is an Honor Graduate of the Texas State Guard Advanced Non-Commissioned Course and has earned the Basic Military Emergency Management Specialist Badge from the State Guard Association of the United States. 

Illich volunteers as a member of the Patriot Guard Riders to honor veterans at funerals and as a member of “Cos-Play for Kids,” where costumed superheroes visit children in Houston area hospitals and serves as the as the master of ceremonies for a Houston and Galveston literacy program. He is a Tai Chi Teacher and Massage Therapist.

Sgt. Miranda Leal was recognized as the Texas State Guard Outstanding Junior Enlisted of the Year for 2018 and received Texas State Guard Jonathan Clutts Award for Selfless Service for 2018, an award named for Texas State Guard Petty Officer 2 Jonathan Clutts for his selfless service during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.  She was also recognized as the Texas State Guard Army Component’s Outstanding Junior Enlisted of Year 2018 and received the “Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for Service Excellence.”  

“I am honored to be recognized as the Texas State Guard Outstanding Junior Enlisted of the Year and receive the Sgt. Maj. Hiram J. Williamson Award for the Outstanding Junior Enlisted of the Year in the Army Component. I am very honored to receive the first Jonathan Clutts award and hope to live up to his example of selfless service.  I would like to thank those who believed in me and shaped me into the soldier that I am today. It is a great privilege to serve with such a great group of men and women who share a passion for giving back to their community and serving the Great State of Texas," stated Leal.

Leal joined the Texas State Guard in 2015.  She serves as a squad leader and assistant Platoon Sergeant for G Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Regiment, an Emergency Tracking Network trainer, and a member of the Texas State Guard Band.  She is certified in American Red Cross First Aid and Shelter Management, WEBEOC, and the Emergency Tracking Network operations. 
She has completed the Texas State Guard Professional Leadership Development Course and Federal Emergency Management Agency courses. 
Leal is a senior at Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, majoring in Exercise and Sports Science and Pre-Rehabilitation Science.  She volunteers at Hays Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, San Marcos, Texas, and Guadalupe Regional Medical Center in Sequin, Texas.  

“These two Texas State Guard members represent the best of the enlisted in the guard. Staff Sgt. Illich has demonstrated the best qualities, skills, knowledge and service of a non-commissioned officer and exemplifies the meaning of volunteerism, selfless service, and giving back to his state and community. His superiors and subordinates recognize his unmatched depth of doctrinal knowledge and the ability to relay that knowledge to others.   Sgt. Miranda Leal exemplifies the highest attributes of a junior enlisted member.  She has assumed leadership positions and duties and performed at a level beyond what is required of her rank and is dedicated to encouraging her fellow members to exceed in their professional growth and development and to sharpen their skills and knowledge necessary to perform their duties,” stated Command Sgt. Maj. Barton Williams, Army Component, Texas State Guard.