Thanksgiving Day 2013

Thanksgiving Day is a truly unique American holiday that brings all of us together, regardless of our many faiths and cultural backgrounds. Traditionally, we gather with family and friends to reflect on the year past, and give thanks for the blessings and freedoms we enjoy as Americans. It is a time when we stop for a moment from our busy schedules and share food, family, and fellowship.

I am very thankful for each of you--Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and family members.

I am also thankful to our friends and partners in the Texas Military Department, Texas Army and Air National Guard, Texas Department of Emergency Management, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Department of Public Safety among our other friends and partners for the hospitality and warm reception they have provided the State Guard as an organization.

I also encourage you to take the time today to reflect on those things that you and your families are thankful for. Take care and all the best. Happy Thanksgiving!


M.A. Rodriguez
Major General (TX)
Commanding

The Month of the Military Family - Strong Families, Strong Servicemembers

Commentary by: Staff Sgt. Jennifer Atkinson

Military families monthThere is no doubting the fact that military life can be hard on families, especially children.  Field problems, long hours, and deployments can take a heavy toll on both the service member and their family.

To help lessen the effects of stress on families, the Texas Army National Guard’s Child & Youth Program offers programs to help develop teambuilding, communication and life skills, and to encourage children to pursue higher education.

“Everything we do is fun,” said Brandon J. Savoy, the program’s child and youth coordinator.

Yellow Ribbon events are available - they are family-oriented workshops provided before, during and after deployments.

From fishing camps in March, to Camp Young Heroes in June, the Child & Youth Program offers opportunities throughout the year.

“These things help build family resiliency,” said Savoy.  “Knowing what’s going on and what’s going to happen helps the kids.”

For more information, contact the TXARNG Child & Youth Program on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TXMFChildAndYouthProgram or Brandon J. Savoy directly at brandon.j.savoy.ctr@mail.mil or 512-782-1245.

 

November is Warrior Care Month

Texas Medical Command makes transition easier for Wounded Warriors

By Capt. Martha C. Nigrelle

Warrior care monthThe Medical Evaluation Board, or MEB, is known for being a long and arduous process.  For traditional guardsmen, this process if often even longer and more difficult, but for wounded warriors in the Texas Military Forces (TXMF), in the last year the MEB process became much easier.

According to Army Sgt. Gabriel Martinez, the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of behavioral health and assistant NCOIC of case management for Medical Command, in just one year, Medical Command, or Med Command, increased the number of packets submitted to the Medical Board by 200%.

After assuming command of Med Command in 2012, Army Col. John P. Drobnica, a licensed physician assistant, and Col. Robert Ferry, the Texas State Army Surgeon, spent their 2012 annual training period evaluating the Med Command system for submitting MEB packets.  Their goal was to figure out a way to make the transition process easier for Texas Army National Guard wounded warriors.  Ferry is the former Deputy Commander for Med Command, as well as, a licensed pediatric-endocrinologist. They are both traditional guardsmen who live and work in their communities as medical professionals.

“I really appreciate Col. Drobnica because he listened to us,” said Martinez.

Martinez went on to discuss how both Drobnica and Ferry took time to ask the Soldiers in Med Command what issues they saw and how they thought things could be improved.  “[Drobnica and Ferry] went down into the weeds and said ‘how can we change the weeds?’”

“The biggest challenge, once [the service member] is injured, is getting them through the process,” said Lt. Col. Brian Weber, the Division Surgeon for 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, also a licensed Physician Assistant. 

Compounding an already long MEB process, before the packet is submitted, numerous doctor appointments and paperwork have to be completed. Additionally, according to Weber, this can become a confusing process.

“It’s all of the little steps – that is the biggest challenge,” said Weber.

Changes in Med Command’s process started with a trip to Florida, and continued with improvement in training, as well as the effective utilization of the medical readiness NCOIC.

“[Drobnica] took us to Pinella’s Park, Fla., where the National Guard MEB convenes to meet the providers who conduct the [initial review of the] MEB. We went three times. This helped us, in case management, leaps and bounds,” said Martinez.

Martinez went on to discuss the next step implemented – a mock MEB. Each month during Med Command drill, a panel of National Guard providers, with an array of medical background and expertise, review the packets assembled by case management as if it were the MEB.

“It’s where our full time support meets our M-Day support,” said Martinez, adding that the process has helped case management improve the quality of each MEB packet before it is submitted to Pinella’s Park.

Additional training was the next step taken to improve this process. Ferry oversaw the creation of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) Provider Battle Book and User’s Guide. The book is tailored to the guardsman medical officer with little experience on TXMF systems and the MEB.

In addition to the battle book, training for the readiness NCO was added. Martinez said that this training has been instrumental in making the MEB process faster and smoother for the service member or wounded warrior. “Increasing the knowledge pool means there are more people that can help facilitate the process.”

The last change was fully integrating the medical readiness NCO with the MEB process. The medical readiness NCO is a full-time position at the battalion and/or brigade level and is focused to work one-on-one with the wounded warrior on their medical readiness to ensure that the MEB packet is initiated and completed as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Martinez credited Drobnica and Ferry for their leadership in implementing and enforcing all of these much needed changes.

For both Drobnica and Ferry, it is all about the mission – improving that transition process.

"We help people transition forward. Life moves forward, not backward,” said Ferry.

For questions regarding the MEB process in the Texas Army National Guard, call the unit Medical Readiness NCO or Case Management at 512-782-4206/5892.

Texas Medical Command makes transition easier for Wounded Warriors

Texas Army National Guard Capt. Kimberly Spires, Medical Hold officer in charge, Texas Medical Command and Texas Army National Guard Cpl. Derrick Guy, state health systems specialist, conduct a mock medical evaluation board (MEB) for a wounded Texas Army National guardsman.
Texas Army National Guard Capt. Kimberly Spires, Medical Hold officer in charge, Texas Medical Command and Texas Army National Guard Cpl. Derrick Guy, state health systems specialist, conduct a mock medical evaluation board (MEB) for a wounded Texas Army National guardsman. Medical Command conducts mock medical evaluation boards to improve the quality and accuracy of MEB packets prior to submission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle/Released)

 

 Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle
 

 CAMP MABRY, Texas – The Medical Evaluation Board, or MEB, is known for being a long and arduous process. For  traditional guardsmen, this process if often even longer and more difficult, but for wounded warriors in the Texas Military  Forces (TXMF), in the last year the MEB process became much easier.

 According to Army Sgt. Gabriel Martinez, the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of behavioral health and  assistant NCOIC of case management for Medical Command, in just one year, Medical Command, or Med Command,  increased the number of packets submitted to the Medical Board by 200%.

 After assuming command of Med Command in 2012, Army Col. John P. Drobnica, a licensed physician assistant, and Lt.  Col. Robert Ferry, the Texas State Army Surgeon, spent their 2012 annual training period evaluating the Med Command  system for submitting MEB packets. Their goal was to figure out a way to make the transition process easier for Texas  Army National Guard wounded warriors. Ferry is the former Deputy Commander for Med Command, as well as, a licensed  pediatric-endocrinologist. They are both traditional guardsmen who live and work in their communities as medical  professionals.

 “I really appreciate Col. Drobnica because he listened to us,” said Martinez.

 Martinez went on to discuss how both Drobnica and Ferry took time to ask the soldiers in Med Command what issues  they saw and how they thought things could be improved. “[Drobnica and Ferry] went down into the weeds and said  ‘how can we change the weeds?’”

 “The biggest challenge, once [the service member] is injured, is getting them through the process,” said Lt. Col. Brian  Weber, the Division Surgeon for 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, also a licensed Physician Assistant. 

 Compounding an already long MEB process, before the packet is submitted, numerous doctor appointments and  paperwork have to be completed. Additionally, according to Weber, this can become a confusing process. 

 “It’s all of the little steps – that is the biggest challenge,” said Weber.

 Changes in Med Command’s process started with a trip to Florida, and continued with improvement in training, as well as the effective utilization of the medical readiness NCOIC.

“[Drobnica] took us to Pinellas Park, Fla., where the National Guard MEB convenes to meet the providers who conduct the [initial review of the] MEB. We went three times. This helped us, in case management, leaps and bounds,” said Martinez.

Martinez went on to discuss the next step implemented – a mock MEB. Each month during Med Command drill, a panel of National Guard providers, with an array of medical background and expertise, review the packets assembled by case management as if it were the MEB. 

“It’s where our full time support meets our M-Day support,” said Martinez, adding that the process has helped case management improve the quality of each MEB packet before it is submitted to Pinella’s Park.

Additional training was the next step taken to improve this process. Ferry oversaw the creation of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF) Provider Battle Book and User’s Guide. The book is tailored to the guardsman medical officer with little experience on TXMF systems and the MEB. 

“This book helps [the new officer] manage and find some bearing. Most books out there are written for the active component,” said Ferry.

In addition to the battle book, training for the readiness NCO was added. Martinez said that this training has been instrumental in making the MEB process faster and smoother for the service member or wounded warrior. “Increasing the knowledge pool means there are more people that can help facilitate the process.”

The last change was fully integrating the medical readiness NCO with the MEB process. The medical readiness NCO is a full-time position at the battalion and/or brigade level and is focused to work one-on-one with the wounded warrior on their medical readiness to ensure that the MEB packet is initiated and completed as quickly and as accurately as possible. 

Martinez credited Drobnica and Ferry for their leadership in implementing and enforcing all of these much needed changes.
For both Drobnica and Ferry, it is all about the mission – improving that transition process.

“We help people transition forward. Life moves forward, not backward,” said Ferry.

For questions regarding the MEB process in the Texas Army National Guard, call the unit Medical Readiness NCO or Case Management at 512-782-4206/5892.

4th Regiment - Texas State Guard Soldier Leads Color Guard at 2013 George W. Bush Tournament

TEXAS STATE GUARD SOLDIER LEADS COLOR GUARD AT 2013 GEORGE W. BUSH TOURNAMENT

Story by: CW2 Janet Schmelzer, PAO, 4th Regiment
 
Posted: 26-OCT-13
 

Photo of Color Guard
SGT Edward Thomas honored
to present the Colors

IRVING, TX—Texas State Guard (TXSG) SGT Edward Thomas, 4th Regiment, led the Joint Services Color Guard at the George W. Bush Warrior Open Tournament at Las Colinas Country Club, Irving, Texas, on September 27-28, 2013.   SGT Thomas represented the Texas State Guard in the Joint Services Color Guard along with soldiers of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

SGT Thomas is a member of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment Color Guard.   The 2nd Battalion Color Guard, known for its precision, has presented the Colors at numerous TXSG and community events throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area and other parts of the state.  Having trained with the Joint Services Color Guard previously, SGT Thomas was asked to perform the National Colors position. 

After each Colors presentation, President George W. Bush shook hands with each member of the Color Guard. 

“I am humbled by these experiences,”  commented SGT Thomas, “and I know in my heart that I hold in me what the 4th Regiment encompasses--HONOR AND DUTY.”   “I cherish and appreciate these moments more than words can say, because I know my fellow soldiers are all with me.”

The Military Service Initiative program of the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas, honors the courage and sacrifice of United States military personnel and their families.   The Warrior Open is a two-day, 36-hole golf tournament for military personnel wounded in the war against terrorism.

Depression and Domestic Violence Prevention and Awareness

By: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Depression awareness and Domest violence prevenetionOctober is National Depression Awareness and National Domestic Violence Prevention Awareness Month. 

“It is important to help others find professional care who may have undiagnosed or uncontrolled depression and are showing obvious signs,” said Army Capt. Hunter Smith, Resilience, Risk, Reduction, and Suicide Prevention Officer in Charge. “These people are hurting and need help.  We would assist someone with an obvious physical injury in need of medical care, so why not one who is suffering emotionally?”

The Texas Military Forces (TXMF) has a number of resources available to assist any member of our TXMF family who may be suffering from depression or the victim of domestic violence.  Licensed therapists and counselors are available 24-hours a day to respond to calls, and to provide long-term and short-term counseling to those in need.

“Our counseling line is for people who need to talk or are having a crisis,” said Jo Ann Brandon, TXMF Director of Psychological Health.

It is also important to help your friends.  Knowing how to recognize and report the symptoms of depression and domestic violence could result in saving a life.  If you see any of the following symptoms in one of your battle buddies or wingmen, report it to get that service member help.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, common signs of depression include:

  • Loss of interest
  • Trouble sleeping or eating and excessive sleeping or overeating – that does not go away or continues to get worse
  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness

If you, or someone you know, are experiencing depression or thoughts of suicide, call the 24-hour TXMF Counseling line at 512-782-5069 (if voicemail picks up, your call will be returned within the hour), the national Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK, or the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 to speak with an experienced counselor.

According to East Texas Crisis Center, common signs of domestic violence include the following behaviors being inflicted on a person:

  • Destructive Criticism/Verbal Abuse
  • Intimidation and Manipulation
  • Abusing Authority
  • Disrespect
  • Abusing Trust
  • Breaking Promises
  • Emotional Withholding
  • Minimizing, Denying & Blaming
  • Economic Control
  • Self-Destructive Behavior
  • Isolation
  • Harassment
  • Destruction
  • Threats
  • Sexual and Physical Violence

If you, or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, call 512-782-5069 to speak with a TXMF counselor. If it is a medical emergency, call 911.

Taylor, Texas - Everyone remembers where they were

LTC Cendy Antley, PAO, TXSG 2nd Regiment
2013/10/08

Photo of NYFD FiretruckTAYLOR, Texas – Everyone remembers where they were on certain days in history. September 11, 2001 is no different. Twelve years later, three soldiers from the Texas State Guard answered the call to participate in a special event.

CPL Timothy Godwin, SFC D. DeWayne Philpott (shown walking beside Rescue 4) and 1LT Henry Burton with the 2nd Regiment, and 3rd Battalion participated in the annual Patriot Day Parade remembering those who lost their lives on 9/11. They were honored by being asked to walk alongside the only surviving NYFD fire truck from ground zero on that fateful day. NYFD Rescue 4 was one of the emergency vehicles initially responding to the disaster and was later pieced together from other trucks which were at the scene. The truck travels the country in honor of the precious lives lost.

These soldiers responded to this event with little notice and left with an abundance of honor and pride.

Brigadier General and Deputy Assistant Adjutant General Texas Army National Guard

Posted on: 28-Sept-13

Photo of EventBrigadier General and Deputy Assistant Adjutant General Texas Army National Guard Orlando Salinas presented Petty Officer First Class Eva Joy Evans, Content Specialist with the Professional Military Education team and Adjunct Instructor Captain Ryan O'Connor with his command coin in honor of their outstanding service to the State of Texas, Texas Military Forces and the Texas State Guard today in a ceremony at Camp Mabry.  LTC Kathryn Allen, officer in charge of professional education stated, "these two members of my team distinguished themselves with hard work and professional excellence and they much deserved the recognition."

4th Regiment BOT Conducts Land Navigation Training

Story by: CW2 Janet Schmelzer, 4th Regiment Public Affairs Officer

Posted: 22-SEP-13

FORT WORTH, TX--During the second phase of the 4th Regiment Basic Orientation Training, soldiers from the 4th and 19th Regiments and the DFW-TMB experienced hands-on training for the skills required for Land Navigation near Lake Worth on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

Team One with Instructor SGT Michael Corso included from the 4th Regiment PV2 David Anderson and PV2 Daniel Winchester and from the 19th Regiment PV2 Armando Rizo and PV2 Bradley Abell. Team Two with Instructor SGT Dennis Burks included from the 4th Regiment PFC John Gugel and 19th Regiment PFC Samuel Pettyjohn, PFC Ronny Bannister, and PFC Hunter Becker. Team Three with Instructor SGT Martin Joseph included 4th Regiment PFC Anthony Rose, DFW-TMB 2LT Jonathan Fisk, and 19th Regiment PFC James Coburn.

Following classroom instruction on Land Navigation, each team proceeded to the field exercise. Each team received the coordinates for their first targets. The soldiers plotted their course using the tools of Land Navigation-- compass, maps, pencils, and protractor. Then they moved in the direction of the first target through tall grasses, heavy brush and cactus. Each team received coordinates for 4 additional targets over a two-kilometer course. The teams also practiced radio communications with the command post to confirm arrival at each target and receive new coordinates for the next target.

Team One. Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, Public Affairs Officer, 4th Regiment
Team One. Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, Public Affairs Officer, 4th Regiment
Team Two. Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, Public Affairs Officer, 4th Regiment
Team Two. Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, Public Affairs Officer, 4th Regiment
Team Three. Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, Public Affairs Officer, 4th Regiment
Team Three. Photo by CW2 Janet Schmelzer, Public Affairs Officer, 4th Regiment