Texas Military Forces honorarily enlists young boy battling rare disorder

Story by: Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon

Posted: April 2, 2015

Honorary enlistee Rowan Windham poses for a picture at his honorary enlistment ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 27, 2015. Windham is battling a rare disorder, Shwachmann-Diamond Syndrome, which affects the pancreas, gastro-intestinal tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow. During one of his stays at the Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Windham met Sgt. David Hixson, a medic with the Texas Army National Guard. There, Windham shared his dream of always wanting to be a Soldier and soon after, Hixson, with the help of fellow Texas National Guardsmen, made it all possible. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon).
Honorary enlistee Rowan Windham poses for a picture at his honorary enlistment ceremony held at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 27, 2015. Windham is battling a rare disorder, Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, which affects the pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow. During one of his stays at the Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Windham met Sgt. David Hixson, a medic with the Texas Army National Guard. There, Windham shared his dream of always wanting to be a Soldier and soon after, Hixson, with the help of fellow Texas National Guardsmen, made it all possible. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm McClendon).

AUSTIN, Texas - With his right hand raised, eight-year-old Rowan Windham took the Oath of Enlistment to become the newest member of the Texas Army National Guard. 

Rowan had the unique opportunity to be given an honorary enlistment into the organization during a ceremony held at its headquarters at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, March 27, 2015.

After an emotional ceremony for friends and family, the young soldier looked out at the audience, cleared his throat and said, “Thank you. This is the best day of my whole entire life.”

Rowan is currently battling a rare disorder called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, which affects the pancreas, gastrointestinal tract, immune system, blood and bone marrow. Rowan has spent more than 900 days in the hospital, received dozens of blood transfusions and made 71 trips to the operating room.

During one of his stays at the Methodist Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Rowan met nurse’s aide, David Hixson, who is also a combat medic in the Texas Army National Guard. There the two grew close.

“I met Rowan after my last deployment, and we immediately became friends,” Hixson said. “Even though it wasn't under the best circumstances, every time he came back it was like seeing an old buddy.” 

At a recent visit, Hixson informed Rowan that he would be deploying soon, and they would not be able to see each other for a while. This is where the eight-year-old expressed his life-long wish to his friend.

“When I told Rowan I was leaving, he told me he too wanted to be in the Army one day, Hixson said. “So after talking to his mom, I contacted a friend at Camp Mabry, who later contacted a lieutenant colonel in the public affairs office, and it kind of just snowballed from there. And here we are today.”

In front of family, friends and distinguished guests, Rowan swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution as many of his fellow guardsmen in attendance did before him. Rowan’s father, Brian Windham, described the event as overwhelming and shared his son’s interest in the military and strong will to survive.

“Rowan actually enlisted himself into the Army on a piece of paper a couple of years ago, so this is fantastic; he’s got to be way overwhelmed with joy,” Windham said. “He’s always looking to help other people. He has two feeding tubes, one goes to his heart the other to his stomach, and everyday he’ll tell you he has the best life ever.” 

Rowan’s resilient attitude earned him a spot in his new home unit as he was made an honorary member of the 124th Cavalry Regiment. 

“Because we know that you are such a trooper, we want to enlist you into the cavalry,” said Brig. Gen. Sean Ryan, commander of the 71st Troop Command and officiator at the enlistment. “A cavalry soldier always moves forward in battle, and we know that you, Rowan, are always moving forward in your own battles.”

Rowan will continue to combat his illness as he and his family travel to a specialized hospital in Seattle and look at a possible bone marrow transplant. As Ryan states, Rowan is on his way to his own deployment, but not alone, he now has more than 24,000 guardsmen by his side.............MORE PHOTOS

From the Top: The Transitional Leadership of General George C. Marshall

THE TRANSITIONAL LEADERSHIP OF GENERAL GEORGE C. MARSHALLCommentary by Col. Gregory P. Chaney
Chief of Staff, Office of the Adjutant General

As overseas contingencies and operations lessen for our current military forces, many service members returning home may not only question his/her own future career, but that of the profession. Common questions may include a desire for one to predict the types of future conflicts or focus on overall costs of maintaining the most expensive defensive strategy in the world. Regardless of the era or generation, post-war transitions result in leaders providing tough answers to difficult questions, while keeping the well-being of the country a top priority. During these times of uncertainty, the U.S. needs strong leaders across all levels who adhere to attributes necessary to navigate these transitions. Through monumental achievements, ethical qualities and an extraordinary philosophy and managerial style, Gen. George C. Marshall serves as a model of such a leader.

Before discussing the attributes and competencies contributing to revered success, it is important to provide some background and insight to the leader dubbed “a man for all seasons.” A shy and reserved youth and mediocre student at best, it was a love for history and a desire to seek advanced education at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) that launched his career. Fast forward to the day Marshall became the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, at which time, Germany invaded Poland and ushered in World War II.  Over a three-year period, Marshall transitioned the U.S. Army from 189,000 outmoded and ill-equipped soldiers into the 8,000,000-soldier force that won the war.

Following the war and its victories, he broke through parochial services plans and rebuilt the total force that included maintaining the National Guard as an integral force, part of America’s first line of defense. This decision is one we benefitted from during a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. As secretary of state and the orchestrator of the so-called Marshall Plan (European Recovery Plan), he helped rebuild European economies and stem the spread of communism.  In fact, Marshall is one of a few incredible leaders in our nation’s history whose attributes and competencies are worth emulating in today’s ever-changing environment.

Although it is difficult to encapsulate such a large body of leadership success into a form that is easy to imitate or reproduce, an article in the professional journal, “Public Integrity” attempted such a task in 2006. Built on a foundation of moral principles, the following attributes and competencies contributing to his leadership success are listed below.

•    Personal courage
•    Integrity and self-discipline
•    An organizational philosophy both task-centered and employee-centered
•    Ability to recognize talent in others
•    Exercising and demanding high ethical standards of organization members
•    Inclusiveness
•    Understanding of and sensitivity to the political/social/economic environment
•    Putting the public interest ahead of self-or narrow organizational interests

The first five attributes should resonate as they mirror the military services’ values and leadership doctrine with which we are familiar. However, it is the final two that are the salient points for leaders capable of influencing in transitional periods. First, Marshall had a clear understanding of the world’s strategic environment and more importantly, how his actions would affect it. No matter the time period,  it is imperative today’s military leaders must continue to educate themselves in order to fully understand the operational environment.  Secondly, leaders should work to translate their environmental understanding into an operational vision that keeps the overall interest of the nation superior to the parochial self, unit, or organizational interests. In any case, both of these competencies require deliberate development to integrate into the art of one’s leadership style.
Every member of the military is a leader and mentor to someone else. As a leader, you are responsible for developing the individual attributes and competencies necessary to keep our military strong, capable of responding when needed, and protecting our nations’ interests. As you seek to grow and advance, look to proven leaders like Marshall to guide your development. More importantly, strive to emulate Marshall by maintaining an understanding of the strategic environment, so that your vision and actions continue to contribute to the strong security of the United States. 

TXSG captures top honors in TXMF pistol competition

Story by: Capt. Esperanza Meza, 19th Regt. PAO

Posted: April 1, 2015

Soldiers TXSG Patch
Photo by: Tanya Lippincott

BASTROP, Texas – Texas State Guard Soldiers from 19th Regiment’s Pistol Team won top honors in the Texas Military Forces Adjutant General’s Combat Pistol competition, Jan. 23-25, 2015, at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas.

During the annual Adjutant General’s Pistol Competition, a total of 54 competitors from the Army, Air and State Guard competed for one of eight Governor’s Twenty tabs. Guardsmen competed in four individual matches and two team matches with individual scores configured into the team totals.

The 19th Regiment’s team placed first in the team completion. 2nd Lt. Scott Hunt, 2nd Lt. David Park, Sgt. Sean Mounger and Cpl. Jonathan Kelley made up team, with Mounger finishing first and Hunt finishing third overall during the individual competition. 

The Governor’s Twenty recognizes the top twenty marksmen in the TXMF, with eight tabs for pistol, eight for rifle, two for sniper and two for machine gun. 

Individual events included an anti-body armor match, a combat pistol barricade match and overall excellence in competition. The team competition included the “Patton” match, named after General George Patton, and a steel plate challenge utilizing all four team members, two on pistol and two on sub-machine gun. Shooters fired from 15-30 yards in the standing, kneeling, prone and barricade positions using both strong and weak hand.

Tabs from the pistol competition were awarded to Hunt, Mounger and Park.

“Keeping an open mind and your ego in check allows you to learn and improve from your teammates, that and the discipline to put the time in to practice your training,” said Mounger. “To sum it up, using my favorite quote from a past college professor of mine, ‘You cannot learn what you think you already know.’”

“As Sgt. Mounger suggested, it is important to approach training with an open mind and a willingness to receive coaching regardless of skill level,” said Hunt. “I can’t tell you how many times something doesn’t feel right and I ask another team member to watch me and provide feedback on form and technique.”

Hunt is only the 7th TXMF soldier to earn a Governor’s Twenty tab in all four combat disciplines, since the program began in 1980, earning a total of thirteen tabs since he began competing in 2011. Both Hunt and Mounger were on the winning pistol and rifle teams in 2012. Mounger, a founding member of the 19th Regiment, TXSG Marksmanship Team, has earned a total of twelve tabs. Park, who participated in 2011 and 2014, has earned two previous Governor’s Twenty tabs in pistol and one in rifle.

 “I think our success is the result of mutual respect, healthy competitiveness, confidence and trust,” said Hunt. “While winning is nice and clearly the end goal, the camaraderie developed through months of training and competing is arguably the most satisfying aspect of being on the marksmanship team.”

The 19th Regiment team is comprised of volunteers who pay for their own ammunition, weapons and range-time. 

The competition is organized by the State Competitive Marksmanship (SCM) Program in the Texas National Guard. 

Texas signal leaders prepare for deployment

Story by: Master Sgt. Daniel Griego

Posted: March 29, 2015

Master Sgt. Daniel Griego Staff Sgt. Paul Rivera of the Texas National Guard's 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conducts grenade familiarization during the organization's Key Leader Pre-Mobilization Training March 25, 2015, at Camp Mabry in Bastrop, Texas. By conducting their training early, unit leaders will be able to help train and guide the battalion's main body personnel through the same lanes in June. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)
Master Sgt. Daniel Griego
Staff Sgt. Paul Rivera of the Texas National Guard's 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conducts grenade familiarization during the organization's Key Leader Pre-Mobilization Training March 25, 2015, at Camp Mabry in Bastrop, Texas. By conducting their training early, unit leaders will be able to help train and guide the battalion's main body personnel through the same lanes in June. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego/Released)

BASTROP, Texas - The road to deployment is a long one for National Guard units, with months of preparatory training and administrative tasks to fulfill before the Department of Defense approves them for overseas service. The officers and noncommissioned officers of the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion got a head start on this process March 21-29 at Camp Swift with a specialized pre-mobilization training for leaders.

Twenty-four members of the signal battalion, which falls under the Texas National Guard’s Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade), trained for more than a week on warriors skills like reacting to incoming fire, reacting to a vehicle rollover, grenade familiarization and others. 

“It’s a value to the unit,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Collins, command sergeant major for the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, “that when the main body gets here, we can actually monitor what’s going on and we won’t have to be going through while they’re going through. We’re free to do all the administrative things we need to do and prep ourselves to go to the [mobilization] station.”

The leaders on site performing this training included the battalion commander, staff officers, senior noncommissioned officers, and mission-essential personnel who will be able to help guide the main body of the organization through the same drill lanes in June.

“We’ll be going to seven different countries across 32 different sites,” said 136th ESB Commander Lt. Col. Tanya Trout, “so we’re training on all the different areas of operation we could, from IED explosions to individual weapons training and individual movement techniques. We’ll have the big main body PMT in June and then we’ll hit the mobilization platform in July at Fort Hood.”

As a signal unit, the battalion’s primary mission will be to enable communications throughout the region, providing voice and network capabilities for their supported elements. The focus for the next few months, however, will be getting back to the basics of their warrior tasks and providing a tactically and physically fit team of Texas Guardsmen.

“A lot of us get stuck behind desks doing computer work,” said Trout. “It’s good to be out here and remember what it’s like to be a Soldier, to do your three to five second buddy rushes, individual weapons qualification, land navigation, all your basic Soldiering skills.”

The battalion will train through the end of the summer, finishing with a Culminating Training Exercise at Fort Hood to simulate their overseas mission prior to departing. This exercise will be the final certification of their hard work and preparations clearing them for combat service.

“Once we get to platform,” said WO1 Audrey Foushee, the battalion property book officer, “we’ll be validating equipment and personnel in preparation for and during the CTE.”

“The unit’s feeling good,” said Collins. “We know we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

Army Component Texas State Guard Welcomes New General

Howard N. Palmer, Jr. Promoted to Brigadier General

Story by: CW2 Janet Schmelzer, 4th Regiment, PAO

Posted: March 28, 2015

CAMP MABRY, AUSTIN, TX (28March2015) - Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr.  formally assumed command of the Army Component, TXSG, at a ceremony held at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, March 28, 2015. Palmer will command almost one thousand TXSG soldiers in six civil affairs regiments located across the state. Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, TXSG.
CAMP MABRY, AUSTIN, TX (28March2015) - Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr.  formally assumed command of the Army Component, TXSG, at a ceremony held at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, March 28, 2015. Palmer will command almost one thousand TXSG soldiers in six civil affairs regiments located across the state. Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, TXSG.

CAMP MABRY, AUSTIN, TX (28 March 2015) – The Army Component Command of the Texas State Guard has a new commander and a new general, Brig. Gen. Howard N. Palmer, Jr.  Maj. Gen. Jake Betty, Commander, TXSG, promoted Palmer to the rank of brigadier general and formally handed over the Army Component to Palmer at a ceremony held at Camp Mabry, Austin, Texas, March 28, 2015. Palmer assumed command of the ACC, January 1, 2015. Palmer will command almost one thousand TXSG soldiers in six civil affairs regiments located across the state.

"I couldn't be more honored, or more humbled, by the opportunity to lead one of the premier organizations of this type in the United States," Palmer stated. "With my mentors' support and the support of the officers, NCOs, and enlisted members of the Army Component, we're going to continue moving forward as an organization with a culture and a strategy of continuous improvement."

Palmer was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Louisiana Army National Guard after completing the ROTC program at Louisiana College in 1980 and ended his federal service as a lieutenant colonel in the Texas Army National Guard in 2008.  His federal service active duty assignments included deployment to Bosnia for Operation Joint Forge in 2000;  Operation Noble Eagle II in 2003;  Operation Jump Start (Marfa, Texas); and J3, Operation Jump Start (Austin, Texas) from 2006-2008.  He is a graduate of Field Artillery School Officer Basic Course; Field Artillery  School, Cannon Battery Officer Course; Field Artillery School Officer Advanced Course; Combined Arms and Services Staff School; Command and General Staff College-Graduate; and Field Artillery Pre-Command Course.

At the ceremony Palmer also received The State of Texas Outstanding Service Medal for exemplary service in the military forces of Texas.  Palmer's highest awards for military service are the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal w/1 OLC, Army Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, and Army Achievement Medal w/4 OLC, as well as various other state and federal ribbons.

Palmer joined the TXSG at the rank of Colonel in 2008.  He served as the commander of the 4th Regiment, TXSG, from 2010-2015.

Palmer holds a BA in English and History from Louisiana College-Pineville, Pineville, Louisiana, and a MA in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce, Commerce, Texas.  He is an Assistant Principal at Denton High School, Denton, Texas.  He is married to Dr. Mary "Beth" Palmer. They have a son, 1st Lt. Howard N. Palmer, III, US Air Force, and daughter-in-law Julia C. Palmer.

Journey to becoming Army Fit

Week 10- PT Test

PT TEST DAY! It was a chilly morning but the sun was out, not a cloud in the sky on this third day of spring. We arrived early, and discussed how neither of us slept very well the night before. Maybe our nerves were running a little higher than we thought they would. As much as we told ourselves it would be okay if we didn’t pass, we really wanted to do well.

We had the great fortune of having Cpt. Orozco, Deputy State Surgeon, and Sgt. Moten, Texas Army National Guard, administer our test. We also had support from Michelle McBride of the Public Affairs Office, who has been our blogger extraordinaire for the last two months, and Capt. Nigrelle, who has helped tremendously with editing and who was featured in a previous blog demonstrating excellent pushup form. 

Cpt. Orozco and Sgt. Moten were all business. She read us the standard test protocol with she and Sgt. Moten demonstrating proper form for sit ups and pushups. As a reminder, less than 3 months ago, we struggled to do 1 proper pushup, and a handful of ugly sit ups. 

On PT Test day, however, we exceeded our goal of 60%! We tested on pushups at the same time and were both impressed. Tracy did 15 (needed 9 to pass), and Courtney did 22 (needed 12 to pass).

PT Test day PT Test day

Our confidence was up! They reminded us to keep moving to stay warm, as she read the sit up protocol. Tracy knocked out 40 sit ups (needed 28 to pass), and Courtney completed 36 (needed 32 to pass).

We were feeling good, and ready for the run! Although our support team encouraged us to compete with each other to get the best score possible, we decided that we would run just as we trained, together and talking. We felt good the entire two miles- finished strong with10 minute miles- and came in three to four minutes under our passing goal. 

PT Test day

So, what did we learn in our journey? We learned that our bodies can do much more than we thought they could. We learned that making fitness and exercise part of our regular routine was a big part of improving, and having a partner for encouragement, company, and support was absolutely essential. We learned that over time our moods improved with the routine of running. Not only were our bodies moving, but exercising together allowed us time to talk, laugh, and share, and go home feeling ‘lighter’. We learned that we want to keep going! We worked hard to improve and meet our goals and we want to maintain our physical fitness. Lastly, although we had the knowledge that physical and mental fitness were connected, this journey provided an opportunity for us to put this into practice and experience the positive results in both our bodies and our minds. 

We would like to sincerely thank all of the service members, co-workers, and our families, who offered support, advice, and encouragement all along the way. It was very helpful in keeping us motivated, and in steering us in the right direction, and thank you to the Public Affairs Office (PAO) for giving us the opportunity to document our ‘Journey to Becoming Army Fit.’ 

Commentary by Courtney J. Lynch and Tracy K. Ward, Psychological Health Coordinators

Journey to becoming Army Fit

Week 9

We are continuing to gather advice about strengthening our form, technique and bodies.  More than one service member and one of our own family members told us to try the ‘Perfect Pushup’ device.  Sounds great!  A tool that will perfect our pushups and help us reach our goal numbers in order to pass the test.  Just like that, the device showed up in the office thanks to a kindhearted service member.  We were thrilled.  If you’ve never seen this apparatus, it is two round disks (that swivel) and there are handles on top of each disk. We immediately tried them out, figuring that they were the magic wand that would fix everything.  Wrong!  We had a tough time figuring out how to use them correctly and the swiveling made us very unsteady.  We looked online for more information. The person in the video we found made it look so easy. We tried again. No luck. 

We asked our co-worker Sgt. Sanders for help since he was the one who first mentioned the device to us. With grace and ease, Sgt. Sanders performed several perfect-form pushups and instructed us patiently when we tried again.  We can see how the device could be helpful, but have decided that it is, unfortunately, still beyond our skill level.  Back to doing pushups the old fashion way!  

Lesson of the week:
What works for some does not always work for others.  This is true for mental fitness as well as physical fitness.  The only way to know what suits you is to listen, watch, gather lots of ideas and then try them. Those that work, add them to your list of techniques.  Those that don’t...well, as with the ‘Perfect Pushup’ device, it is a learning experience.  

Commentary by Courtney J. Lynch and Tracy K. Ward, Psychological Health Coordinators

Texas Guard Soldier takes home top honors during Task Force Sinai quarterly competition

Story by: Sgt. Thomas Duval

Posted: March 19, 2015

Story courtesy of: Task Force Sinai

Sgt. Thomas Duval Spc. Ricardo Gonzales, a combat medic from the Minnesota National Guard, currently serving in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with Task Force Sinai, performs first aid on a simulated casualty during the unit's Best Warrior Competition held March 18, 2015. During the competition Soldiers underwent a number of mental and physical tests that included trauma lanes, physical fitness test, weapons qualification and a formal board, among others. (U.S. Army Photo By: Sgt. Thomas Duval, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)
Sgt. Thomas Duval
Spc. Ricardo Gonzales, a combat medic from the Minnesota National Guard, currently serving in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt with Task Force Sinai, performs first aid on a simulated casualty during the unit's Best Warrior Competition held March 18, 2015. During the competition Soldiers underwent a number of mental and physical tests that included trauma lanes, physical fitness test, weapons qualification and a formal board, among others. (U.S. Army Photo By: Sgt. Thomas Duval, Task Force Sinai Public Affairs)

EL GORAH, Egypt — After being in the Sinai Desert supporting peace with the Multinational Force and Observers for less than a month, Spc. Tommy Ly has already taken the reins and set the standard for his peers.

Ly, a financial management technician assigned to the 1st Squadron, 112th Cavalry Regiment- currently operating as the Army’s U.S. Security Battalion in Sinai Egypt- won the Task Force Sinai Soldier of the Quarter Competition held here March 18, 2015. 

“I have always set high standards to push myself to be better and to win this is just a relief,” Ly, a Channelview, Texas, native said.

For Ly and the other hopefuls, the two-day event kicked off March 17th as Soldiers were tested on their Army knowledge with a written exam. 

Day Two of the competition began by testing each Soldier’s physical prowess during the Army Physical Fitness Test and continued as each competitor completed a number of situational training lanes. The lanes included weapons qualification, treating a casualty, calling in a nine-line medevac, and communications lane. Each participant was graded on their proficiency in each warrior task and given an overall score. 

That score was carried with the Soldiers as they entered the final obstacle- a formal board in front of their leaders. During the board, senior leaders from Task Force Sinai tested the nominees on their overall knowledge on more than 12 Army categories ranging from regulations to leader values. 

“I really learned a lot about myself throughout this competition,” Ly added. “Studying the different topics taught me what Army leadership is and I was able to pick up different leadership traits.” 

To make the situation more challenging, Ly only arrived to the Sinai three weeks prior to the competition and was told while unpacking that he would be selected to represent his unit. 

Ly, a four-year Army veteran who serves as part of the North Camp Response Team for the MFO, immediately started to study on his limited amount of off-time. Although the amount of dedication each Soldier put into preparing for the competition cannot accurately be measured Ly said he didn’t do it alone and instead attributes his success to his leaders who mentored him along the way.

His platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Harris, ensured Ly stayed motivated by challenging him on a daily basis. 

“I told him you better score a 270 or higher on your PT test or else you’re not going,” Harris said. “I even made him run with someone who I knew would push him.” 

Harris also challenged Ly with by reminding him of the unspoken rivalry between National Guard and active duty Soldiers. 

“There’s always been a rivalry between the guard and active duty,” Ly said. “It’s nice for us to win something like this.” 

At the end of the day, all of Ly’s sacrifices paid off but as he walked away with the title of ‘Best Soldier in the Desert’, for this quarter, he didn’t have time to celebrate. Instead he did what a true Soldier does and got right back to work.

TXMF Day at the Capitol

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: March 19, 2015

Picture of EventAUSTIN, Texas – The Texas legislature recognized the members of the Texas Military for their service to the state and nation, March 19, 2015, during Texas Military Forces Day at the Capitol in Austin.

As part of the day, legislators and their staff members spent time visiting with numerous guardsmen to discuss the roles and capabilities of the guard in Texas.

The TXMF used the day to showcase the force, which featured representatives from across the force, as well as two different rifle and pistol simulators. Organizers from the TXMF Government Affairs team said their goal was to increase awareness and understanding of the TXMF’s dual state and federal mission to both state representatives and the general public.

Visitors remained engaged dueling on the simulators and learning more about their Texas Guard.  Ana Ramon, chief of staff for state Representative Joe Farias (San Antonio), said she found it fascinating how so many different components came together to serve as one.

 “Often, decision making is done on a very superficial level,” Ramon said. “When you have someone you are talking to who lives it, who sees it every day, it gives you the drive and the motivation to dig deeper and find not just the cause, but what the systemic root of an issue is and how we can help that.”

 Guardsmen set up informational booths focusing specifically on the Army, Air and State Guards, the facilities and maintenance office, the Texas Challenge Academy, the Civil Support Team, Domestic Operations and the unique skill sets and capabilities each of these components provides. 

 “We wanted to make sure as many divisions in the National Guard and State Guard could be represented as possible,” said Jordy Keith, TXMF government affairs deputy director-state. “We wanted the legislators and the general public to see what the Texas National Guard and Texas State Guard does for Texas.”

 Many of the service members working the event took a break to visit the Senate, in session, where they received a standing ovation in thanks, by all representatives and member of the public present, for the service TXMF gives to both the state and nation.

 “I thought today went extremely well,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general – Texas, “They got to meet you all, they didn’t just see Nichols. They got to see the National Guard.”

 Just before the Senate session began, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stopped by the event to visit with the troops and thank them for their service.

 “America depends on a strong Texas,” said Patrick. “And a strong Texas relies on all of you.”

Journey to becoming Army Fit

continue to work toward our goal of taking and passing a PT testWeek 8

We continue to work toward our goal of taking and passing a PT test; however, we both notice that it is not as easy as we thought it would be. Initially, our motivation was high and our day-to-day jobs were a little less hectic since we were still new and it was the holiday season. Now, our work days are much busier and our bodies have various aches and pains from increased exercise and working under-used muscle groups, which makes working out tougher. We remind ourselves that progress is slow, and we respect that our bodies need a bit more recovery time now than they did when we were in our twenties and thirties. 

It gets us thinking about service members in the National Guard. Active duty service members typically do PT together in an organized group, and as a required part of their daily work routine. Guard members, on the other hand, often live and work apart from each other, and must rely on their own initiative to maintain their physical fitness in order to pass their PT test. It makes us very much appreciate their commitment, dedication, and self-discipline to being in the National Guard. They inspire us, along with a deep desire not to flunk, to keep chugging toward our goal. 

We have received so many good tips and strategies for building our strength and physical fitness. It is interesting to note that all of these tips and strategies are helpful, yet different. Each takes a unique approach to accomplishing the same goal or task. We see the same occurrence in mental fitness. There are varied ideas about how to maintain mental fitness and increase coping skills; all good, yet different. We compiled a list of coping skills, some that are our favorites and some that are borrowed from others:

•    Ask for help 
•    Create a support system
•    Accept imperfection / Be gentle with yourself
•    Take a relaxation break
•    Monitor inner thoughts
•    Take care of your (physical) health
•    Have a friend and be a friend

For more ideas and suggestions about coping and emotional health, check out: https://www.jointservicessupport.org/PHP/Emotional.aspx

Commentary by Courtney J. Lynch and Tracy K. Ward, Psychological Health Coordinators