Deployment Opportunity!

TXARNG volunteers in grades O5, O4, O3, E8 or E7 to serve as subject matter experts in the operations, intelligence, protection, and sustainment warfighting functions with the following branches/MOS: INF/11, EN/12, FA/13, MP/31, INT/35, LG/90/92 and O1A/O2A (Branch Immaterial)

WHO:  TXARNG volunteers in grades O5, O4, O3, E8 or E7 to serve as subject matter experts in the operations, intelligence, protection, and sustainment warfighting functions with the following branches/MOS: INF/11, EN/12, FA/13, MP/31, INT/35, LG/90/92 and O1A/O2A (Branch Immaterial)

WHEN:  Mobilize February 2016 to CONUS Replacement Center (CRC), deploy NLT March 2016 for a 9-12 month deployment.

WHY:   Support immediate additional request for forces (RFF) from CENTCOM to provide subject matter expertise (SME) in specific warfighting function (WFF)

Site for Volunteers - https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/663076

NATO Resolute Support Mission - http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_113694.htm

POC:  TXARNG Mobilization Team Email - ng.tx.txarng.list.txarng-mobilization@mail.mil

Texas Guardsman raises 25,000 toys for sick children

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted On: December 21, 2015

Texas State Guard Staff Sgt. Williams, 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment, stands amongst donated toys at Dell's Children Hospital in Austin, Texas, Dec. 19, 2015, as part of the annual "Young Heroes of the Guard" program. Williams led toy drive operations for 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment and collected more than 25,000 toys to be delivered to sick children all over Texas. (Texas State Guard photo by Col. Joseph Jelinski/ Released)
Texas State Guard Staff Sgt. Williams, 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment, stands amongst donated toys at Dell's Children Hospital in Austin, Texas, Dec. 19, 2015, as part of the annual "Young Heroes of the Guard" program. Williams led toy drive operations for 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment and collected more than 25,000 toys to be delivered to sick children all over Texas. (Texas State Guard photo by Col. Joseph Jelinski/ Released)

AUSTIN, Texas - Santa’s Texas State Guard elves brought holiday cheer to the Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, Dec. 19, 2015, as Staff Sgt. James “Damon” Williams, 1st Battalion, 2nd Regiment and a group of Texas State Guardsmen unloaded thousands of toys from trucks and proceeded to fill the hospital’s amphitheater with toys.

In 2009, the Texas State Guard started the Young Heroes of the Guard program, with the hopes of collecting enough toys to distribute to every pediatric patient in every children’s hospital in Texas during the Christmas season, and leave a year’s worth of toys behind.

That first year, they collected more than 2,000 toys and by 2014, they collected almost 23,000 toys across the state.

This year, Williams leading the toy drive efforts for his battalion, just one of the many units participating in the State Guard’s toy drive, collected more than 25,000 toys.

“We want to help everyone in need,” said Williams.

Starting in March, Williams coordinated a three-prong approach to collecting toys.

“I start my toy drive operations in March,” said Williams. “My goal is to submit the application for support the day they are first accepting letters so that my request is the first one on the pile and hopefully the first one to be considered.”

Williams and his team of State Guard volunteers work with local companies and major corporations to coordinate donations until October.

“Then we deploy toy drive operations,” said Williams.

In true military fashion, Williams coordinates one team to man large donation boxes at designated drop off points, another team to stand outside major retail stores and advertise the toy drive and collect donations, and a third team to handle other donations.

“I have a calendar of all our operations to make it easy for soldiers to find dates and times that would be conducive for them to help,” said Williams.

After meeting the Battalion’s goal of 11,000 toys, Williams and his team decided to keep going.

“Staff Sgt. Williams took the lead for the battalion and just went with it,” said Lt. Col. Cendy Brister-Antley, commander of 1st Battalion. “You can give him something and he will run with it. He has contacts like you wouldn’t believe!”

For Williams the drive to bring joy to children staying in hospitals hits close to home.

“I spent time in the hospital as a child,” said Williams. “It was one of the most difficult times of my childhood. That’s what drives me, that memory of what it was like.”

Hospital staff members will give these toys to hospitalized children, siblings of hospitalized children and children of hospital patients throughout the entire year.

“Our goal is to give them enough toys to make it through the entire year,” said Williams.

Units are assigned to local hospitals. For 1st Battalion, that means Dell Children’s Hospital.

“Last year they got 6,000 toys and started running out in October,” said Williams. “That was our incentive to boost our toy collection.”

Meeting their original goal of 11,000, and then some, they should meet this goal.

The battalion delivered more than 10,000 toys to Dell Children’s Hospital and have given the remaining toys to State Guard units across Texas, to help support toy drive effort statewide.

“It was a planned operation,” said Brister-Antley. “To blow away the State Guard.”

Despite the large piles of toys and the competitive spirit of the unit to outdo last year’s numbers, being able to give back to the community and bring joy to children is what means the most to these guardsmen.

“We delivered more than 10,000 toys to Dell Children’s Hospital,” said Brister-Antley. “I saw pride in my Soldiers, pride in the accomplishment of giving back.”

For Williams, it’s about bringing joy to a child’s life.

“I had a large pink stuffed dog that one of the girls was eyeballing. I walked over to her and asked her if she could give the dog a good home. She grabbed it and seemed really happy,” said Williams. That’s why we do it – for the smiles and the happiness we can bring to the kids.

Next year, Williams said he hopes to collect 50,000 toys.

For more information on the Texas State Guard toy drive, please visit their website http://www.txsgtoydrive.org/. To see more photos from the toy drop off at Dell Children’s Hospital, Dec. 18, 2015, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/texasmilitaryforces/albums/72157662483102302

Airmen support Snowball Express 2015

Story by: Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed

Post: December 16, 2015

Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Mize, a squad leader from the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, and his therapy dog, Sully, welcome families arriving for Snowball Express 2015 at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Dec. 12, 2015. Snowball Express is an organization dedicated to the children of military members who have died while on active duty since Sept. 11. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed/released)
Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Mize, a squad leader from the 136th Security Forces Squadron, Texas Air National Guard, from Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, and his therapy dog, Sully, welcome families arriving for Snowball Express 2015 at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, Dec. 12, 2015. Snowball Express is an organization dedicated to the children of military members who have died while on active duty since Sept. 11. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Reed/released)

NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas - Texas Air National Guardsmen from the 136th Airlift Wing here, volunteered their time in support of Snowball Express 2015 at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Dec. 12, 2015.

Snowball Express is an annual gathering for children of fallen military members who died while on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001. This year an estimated 1,700 family members traveled to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the event.

“I am in charge of 18 volunteers but we have almost 400 helping this year,” said Fernando A. Ospina, the DFW Airport coordinator for Snowball Express. “Most of the volunteers do it out of a love for kids, a love of our military and a love of our nation.”

This is the sixth year that Airmen from the 136AW work alongside military and civilian volunteers to meet and greet children and their escorts as they exit the aircraft and assist with luggage handling.

“We’re one of the few units that still participate in our uniform because they enjoy seeing that,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Camille LaDrew, Texas Air National Guard, military volunteer coordinator for the 136AW. “It reminds them that they are still part of the military family.”

Military volunteers were also joined by family members. One family brought along a group of 10 trained therapy dogs and their handlers.

“We heard stories today about how the kids miss their dogs and are so glad our guys are here,” said Kate A. Mize, a military spouse and dog handler with A New Leash on Life. “They bring a sense of comfort, a sense of home.” 

Snowball Express was founded in 2006 with the primary goal of supporting the families of fallen military members by providing them with new memories and hope.

Guard set to activate additional cyber units

Story by: Sgt 1st Class Jon Soucy - National Guard Bureau  

Posted: Dec. 14, 2015

Photo of two soldiers working at computersARLINGTON, Va. (12/9/15) – As part of ongoing growth of cyber forces throughout the Department of Defense, the National Guard announced plans to activate 13 additional cyber units spread throughout 23 states by the end of fiscal year 2019.

“Our goal for cyber-defense is to train, equip and provide highly skilled forces responsive to the needs of the nation,” said Army Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau. “Working with the Army and Air Force our cyber squadrons and teams will provide trained and ready Soldiers and Airmen to support requirements established by the services and U.S. Cyber Command.”

Seven new Army Guard Cyber Protection Teams will be activated across Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. They join four previously announced Army Guard CPTs spread across California, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio.

In partnership with the Air Force, the Air Guard will activate four new Cyber Operations Squadrons in Idaho, Michigan, Texas and Virginia. In addition, a cyber Information Surveillance Reconnaissance squadron will stand up in California Photo of soldier on laptop and a cyber ISR group in Massachusetts.

The current roll out of Guard cyber units is part of laying out a larger foundation for future cyber forces scheduled for activation.

“This is the beginning,” said Air Force Col. Kelly Hughes, chief of the Space and Cyber Warfare Operations Division at the Air National Guard Readiness Center. “This is a massive amount of force structure the Guard has laid into this mission, but this is just the first layer.”

Activating cyber units in these states allows for the Guard to fulfill Army and Air Force cyber missions while positioning cyber protection units in each of the 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency response regions.

“The focus is to get that presence in as many states as possible and especially making sure we have all the FEMA regions covered,” added Hughes about the current activation plans.

Ensuring each FEMA region has coverage, ties into the Guard’s mission to respond to large-scale emergencies and disasters at home, said Air Force Col. Timothy T. Lunderman, director of joint cyber operations at the National Guard Bureau, adding that because the Guard is community based there are already relationships in place. Cyber teams and squadrons, he added, are another asset governors can use at the state level should they be needed.

“If we have never met before, and I come knocking on your door and say, ‘I’m here to help you with a cyber incident,’ you’d close the door,” said Lunderman. “The Guard is in all 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia. We have the capability and relationships already established. If state and local officials need help they’re more likely to turn to the folks they know. The people they know are the Guard.”

And like other Guard assets, cyber protection units—whose members  only operate on DoD and government networks, including those of state governments—can be used in multi-state settings through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, said Lunderman.

While each state may not yet be home to a cyber protection team or squadron, Guard elements in each state, territory and the District of Columbia already have a computer network defense team or other cyber protection assets assigned, said Hughes.

“The Army National Guard has laid computer network defensive teams into every state,” he said. “Between the Army Guard and the Air Guard there is a level of cyber protection capability in each state.”

Armed with civilian experience in cyber security and network engineering, Hughes said, National Guard cyber specialists are able to provide robust capability.

“That’s the kind of thing you can get with the Guard,” he said. “Our longevity and knowledge is hard to match. That is what makes the Guard great.”

It’s also a mission that Guard members can easily transition from state status to federal status.

“We can do this mission from anywhere,” said Hughes. “We don’t have to physically relocate to do it. As long as we have the connectivity, we can operate from home station.”

Guard cyber protection units are part of larger service-specific requirements to provide cyber defense capabilities, explained Lunderman, adding those requirements have been spread throughout the active, Guard and reserve components. Each cyber team member, regardless of component, trains to the same service standard.

The future of cyber defense is open ended.

“When you look at the way the Internet was designed and built, nobody could even fathom what it has become today and it’s really even harder to think what it might become tomorrow,” said Lunderman.

The need for cyber defense assets is expected to increase.

“It’s only going to grow,” Hughes said. 

Happy Birthday, National Guard

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country. But he that stands it now, deserves the thanks of man and women; for tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. For that which we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightlyCommentary by Jeff Hunt, Director, Texas Military Department Museum

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country. But he that stands it now, deserves the thanks of man and women; for tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. Yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. For that which we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”

Thomas Paine wrote those words in December of 1776, as the Continental Army – beaten, bleeding, cold, hungry and despairing – retreated before victorious British legions.  Within the month, that army would turn and deliver devastating defeats to the English at Trenton and Princeton, and in so doing save the American Revolution and the nation it had created. 

What Paine wrote in 1776 was a profound revelation.  What he put into words is a truth that has endured since 1636, when what would become today’s National Guard was born at the first militia muster in the colony of Massachusetts: that America’s citizen soldiers have always been the bulwark of our freedom and our liberty.

In time of peace and in time of war, the men and women of the National Guard have stood watch over America and its freedom. They have allowed us to sleep secure in the knowledge that our homes and loved ones are protected from the ravages of nature or threats of evil men.  Their vigil knows no weekends or holidays. It has been kept in raging storms, bitter cold and searing heat by those far away from home and the comforts they defend.

This is a truth often taken for granted. Yet those marching a lonely post or standing a midnight watch, do not complain or dissent. They serve because they see it as their privilege and duty. Because they recognize that the freedom America has won for herself and given to so much of the world, comes at the cost of their sacrifice. They willing put their bodies and their lives between America and its enemies, between our liberty and those who would steal it away.

And thus shall it ever be. The men and woman of the National Guard are the latest in a long and never-ending line of those willing to risk all for the things that make life worth living. To those who have gone before, who have fought and bled and died, for those who stand guard around the world today, and for those who will take their place in the decades to come, we owe a debt that can be repaid only in the appreciation and homage of a grateful people.  Indeed, as Thomas Paine said in 1776: “He that stands it now, deserves the thanks of man and woman.” America will always remember and she shall never forget the sacrifice they make.

Chemical soldiers train for dual mission

Story by: 1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo

Posted: December 9, 2015

1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo Soldiers from the 436th Chemical Company, 6th CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, decontaminate a volunteer at the San Marcos municipal airport during a simulated plane crash exercise, Nov. 16, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo/Released)
1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo
Soldiers from the 436th Chemical Company, 6th CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, decontaminate a volunteer at the San Marcos municipal airport during a simulated plane crash exercise, Nov. 16, 2015. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo/Released)

BASTROP, Texas – National Guardsmen of the 436th Chemical Company conducted dual-mission training exercises at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas, and San Macros, Texas, during their annual training period Nov. 13-18, 2015.

The soldiers practiced their traditional warrior skills at Camp Swift, Texas, in areas such as land navigation, security clearing, basic rifle marksmanship, machine gun familiarity, reacting to improvised explosive devices, and physical fitness. This training is essential to maintaining a state of readiness and deployability in support of the citizens of Texas and civil authorities at home or abroad. 

“It is always important to return to basics and improve upon warrior tasks and drills that lay the foundation for everything we do as soldiers,” said 1st Sgt. Dianne Overshown, first sergeant for the 436th Chemical Company. “In many cases, our Soldiers can bring valuable insight from their civilian careers to enhance the training the unit receives in the field.”

The 436th Chemical Company’s core mission is to decontaminate friendly units that have come under a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack in theaters of operation. In addition, the unit specializes in the reconnaissance of CBRN threats and the surveillance of biological dangers. However, their basic Army fundamentals are the foundation that allows the unit to excel in their more technical responsibilities.

“It was fascinating to see some of our soldiers with law enforcement backgrounds take the lead on room clearing and marksmanship,” said Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Snyder. “Training like this really gives the soldiers confidence for future, more complex operations.”

Experienced leaders shared their lessons and best practices with subordinates throughout the week, refining team skill sets in reacting to IEDs, clearing buildings, and weapon familiarization. Each drill reinforced the common themes of teamwork and cooperation. 

“It was great to shoot rounds down range and learn from our experienced sergeants some of the finer points of marksmanship,” said Spc. Zacharias Trigo. “I never realized the infinite number of situations that could present themselves during the clearing of a building and how all team members must work as one.”

The service members also practiced mass casualty decontamination operations as part of their FEMA Region VI Homeland Response Force mission. The HRF mission calls for Guardsmen to augment first responders during stateside natural or man-made disasters requiring specialized decontamination capabilities.

“Our unit has the unique challenge and privilege of being able to help our fellow citizens in a time of crisis,” said 1st Lt. Luis Lopez, 436th Chemical Company commander. “We train, hoping that a day like that never materializes. It is training like this that makes it real for everyone involved.”

The 436th Chemical Company additionally participated in a simulated downed plane scenario at the San Marcos Municipal Airport alongside area first responders and other elements of their National Guard battalion, the 6th CBRN Enhanced Force Package. The exercise simulated dozens of casualties and the release of toxic elements in and around the crash site. The chemical soldiers practiced setting up the decontamination infrastructure and conducting mass causality decontamination while wearing personal protective equipment.

“Exercises like this really bring to light the responsibility our unit has to help our fellow citizens survive such a potential tragedy,” said Staff Sgt. Vanessa Stange. “I am amazed by the professionalism of the area first responders and how our soldiers are performing under stress.”

In addition to the simulated plane crash, 436th Chemical Company soldiers were certified during a three-day course as hazmat operators and recognized by the National Guard Bureau as qualified to perform their decontamination duties. This gives the troops an academic component to augment their practical application exercises throughout the year.

“Having two missions is a lot of work, but it is rewarding and feels good that we can help,” said Spc. Katty Gracia. “I can’t wait until the next annual training.”

Gunfighters give back to local community

Gunfighters give back to local community

Story by Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem

Post: November 25, 2015

Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem Tech. Sgt. John Odum, 149th Operations Group, hams it up for the camera as he helps pack breakfast bags at a Meals on Wheels building located in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 23, 2015. Odum is part of the 149th Fighter Wing at Joint Base San Antonio.
Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem
Tech. Sgt. John Odum, 149th Operations Group, hams it up for the camera as he helps pack breakfast bags at a Meals on Wheels building located in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 23, 2015. Odum is part of the 149th Fighter Wing at Joint Base San Antonio.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas – Texas Air National Guard members, assigned to the 149th Fighter Wing’s Operations Group, volunteered at a local Meals on Wheels organization, Nov. 23-24. 

Each weekday, Meals on Wheels of San Antonio prepares and delivers nearly 4,000 meals to homebound senior citizens of Bexar County, according to volunteer coordinator Kristin Rivera.

Rivera, who has been working there for the past three years, said the non-profit relies heavily on its volunteers who comprise about half of the workforce.

Master Sgt. Martha Vasquez-Medelez, volunteer and member of the 149th OG, called the organization this time last year to inquire about her family delivering Thanksgiving Day meals. This year she decided to recruit fellow members from her squadron to help with the high-volume food preparation that occurs each year during Thanksgiving week. 

“It’s been rewarding knowing that you’re helping seniors who can sometimes get forgotten, she said. “I also have a better appreciation for people who do food serving – now that’s work,” Medelez said after spending much of the morning serving food onto thousands of microwave-safe plates to be sealed and distributed later in the week. 

Fellow Meals on Wheels volunteer and 149th OG member Tech. Sgt. Tracy Potts agrees with his co-worker about it being a rewarding experience. Like Medelez, Potts is no stranger to volunteering. He and his family volunteer for various local churches and charity organizations. In addition to prepping and serving the food, he also volunteers to deliver the food to homebound residents on his days off. 

“There’s this one guy … we talk Spurs,” Potts said. “He loves Tim Duncan. He loves David Robinson. He’ll always be talking about how Robinson needs to suit up again, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know, man.’ He also loves the Cowboys, so we have that in common.”

Potts said he enjoys the delivery aspect because he’s able to strike up these types of conversations with seniors who don’t always get a lot of outside interaction. 

For the volunteer coordinator, going out on deliveries is something she enjoys as well. Because of the organization’s reliance on volunteers, Rivera said she sometimes has to balance her administration duties with going out into the field. 

“As soon as you get out there, you remember, this why I do this,” Rivera said about being called upon to deliver the meals when someone can’t make it. 

For Rivera, volunteers are one of her favorite parts of the job. “I love dealing with the volunteers,” she said. “I mean how many other jobs do you get where you get to deal with nice people all day?” she added. 

Both Medelez and Potts said they volunteer because they just enjoy making a difference in the places around them.

Potts recommends checking out the myriad of opportunities available on the Internet if unsure of where to get involved. “After that, you begin to network and hear about other opportunities from the people volunteering with you,” he said.

Volunteering, for Medelez, is mostly a matter of follow-through. “Once you get that thought, just do it,” she said. “Rather than letting it linger then leave your brain, actually make it happen.”

Honing spiritual fitness, Texas ANG chaplain grows chaplain's program in Fort Worth

Posted: November 25, 2015

Courtesy Photo Chaplain Brig. Gen. Steve Chisolm, Air National Guard Assistant to the U.S. Air Force Chief of Chaplains, preaches to Texas Air National Guardsmen and their families during a chapel service held at the 136th Airlift Wing headquarters, Nov. 15, 2015, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. Chisolm began his career as an Air Force chaplain at the 136th Airlift Wing where he helped build one of the largest chapel programs in the Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Seth Holderby/Released)
Courtesy Photo
Chaplain Brig. Gen. Steve Chisolm, Air National Guard Assistant to the U.S. Air Force Chief of Chaplains, preaches to Texas Air National Guardsmen and their families during a chapel service held at the 136th Airlift Wing headquarters, Nov. 15, 2015, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. Chisolm began his career as an Air Force chaplain at the 136th Airlift Wing where he helped build one of the largest chapel programs in the Air National Guard. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Seth Holderby/Released)

NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, Texas – Chaplain Brig. Gen. Steve Chisolm, Air National Guard assistant to the U.S. Air Force Chief of Chaplains, led a packed room of Texas Guardsmen from the 136th Airlift Wing, during a service, Nov. 15, 2015, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.

For Chisolm, this visit was a chance to spend time with a program he helped build and the airmen he served.

“Then-Lieutenant Colonel Chisolm was my mentor. He influenced me even before I became a chaplain,” said Chaplain Capt. Nathan Tucker, 136th Maintenance Squadron, 136th Airlift Wing, remembering how Chisolm inspired him to become a chaplain. “He has never lost touch with me since the first time we met.”

During his service in the wing, Chisolm mentored chaplains like Tucker and devoted his efforts to building a support network where airmen could maintain their spiritual fitness.

“I think with almost 15 years of continual deployments, constant war has worn on all of us, from all the different components, physically, emotionally, but certainly spiritually,” said Chisolm. “You think about comprehensive airmen fitness and about those four components, the spiritual aspect is just as important, more important in my opinion.”

It was this vision that inspired the program so many service members in the wing know today.

“We have an excellent chaplain program,” said Staff Sgt. Patricia Johnson, noncommissioned officer in charge of chaplain operations and chaplain’s assistant to the wing chaplain. “It’s growing. When I came to this wing about six years ago, we had single digits numbers.”

The growth in the program Chisholm helped start was obvious, as more than 100 airmen packed the chapel for service. 

“He laid the foundation to build the program,” said Tucker. “He built it through three things – trust with the leadership, being a man of integrity and understanding pastoral care.”

The chaplains’ program offers service members a time to set aside during drill to focus on their spiritual fitness. Because of the trust Chisholm built with wing leadership, wing chaplains have been able to work closely with unit commanders to ensure guardsmen have the option to attend chapel services with minimal effects on unit training.

“Seeing how it evolved to this, it is really refreshing to my soul,” said Johnson. “I know it’s making a difference in the members’ lives.” 

Military chaplains are charged with the responsibility to provide spiritual care and the opportunity for service members, their families and other authorized personnel to practice their faith through religious observances, providing pastoral care and advising leadership on spiritual, ethical, moral, morale, core values and religious accommodation issues.

“My job as a chaplain is to provide for the free exercise of religion, as provided by the founding document,” said Tucker. 

Placing spiritual fitness and pastoral care first, Chisolm honed a program that appears to do just that.

“Our members feel like we really do care about them, not just their personal growth or professional growth, but their spiritual growth as well,” said Johnson. “It helps them and their productivity. It helps enhance the mission.” 

Chisolm continues mentoring others in his job at the Pentagon, serving as the liaison between the director of the Air National Guard and Headquarters United States Air Force Chief of Chaplains to ensure that the Air National Guard is providing airmen needs, as well as, making sure the Air force understands the needs of the Air National Guard. 

Once in a while, Chisolm is able to make a guest appearance at units within Texas to provide spiritual guidance.

“Thank you for letting me do something that I haven’t gotten to do in years,” said Chisolm. “Preach here in this room.”

Coming back to the wing, Chisolm was able to see his vision for the unit’s chaplaincy program fulfilled.

“This chapel is successful because Chaplain Chisolm wanted to have the best program in the National Guard,” said Tucker. “And he succeeded.”

U.S. Air National Guard Seth Holderby and U.S. Army National Guard Staff Sgt. William Gasch, Sgt. Jason Robertson, Sgt. Angela Melton, Sgt. Hector Valladares contributed to this article.