Texas State Guard Medical Brigade Assists Texans in Hour of Need

By: Brig. Gen. David Cohen

Sgt. William Alford, Tyler Medical Response Group, Texas State Guard assists with the flow of patients during Operation Lone Star 2013 in Brownsville, TX. Operation Lone Star serves as the only access to medical care that residents of the South Texas Border Region have to medical care or doctors. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spec. Aaron Moreno.)
Sgt. William Alford, Tyler Medical Response Group, Texas State Guard assists with the flow of patients during Operation Lone Star 2013 in Brownsville, TX. Operation Lone Star serves as the only access to medical care that residents of the South Texas Border Region have to medical care or doctors. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spec. Aaron Moreno.)

The Medical Brigade of the Texas State Guard is an important medical reserve that the Governor of Texas can draw upon in response to disasters in Texas. As part of the Texas Military Forces, the Medical Brigade, along with the rest of the Texas State Guard, and the Army and Air National Guards, is ready to respond when Texans are in need.

Brig. Gen. David J. Cohen, M.D., M.P.A. is the new commanding officer of the Texas Medical Brigade. He was appointed to the position and also promoted to brigadier general in the Texas State Guard recently.

Brig. Gen. Cohen is a cardiothoracic surgeon, Adjunct Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and a member of the Bexar County Medical Society.

“We train to respond, and we do respond quickly,” said Brig. Gen. Cohen. “We can put State Guardsmen in the field faster than the National Guard can move and thus help Texans more quickly.”

The mission of the Texas State Guard (TXSG) is to provide mission-ready military forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies; to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities; and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required.

In the last few years the Medical Brigade of the TXSG has provided clinics at disaster shelters during and after hurricanes. These included the devastating hurricanes of Katrina, Rita, and Ike, as well as others. “During these and other hurricanes, the Medical Brigade manned medical clinics at some of the evacuation sites, or provided shelter management or public health services,” said Brig. Gen. Cohen.

The Medical Brigade and the TXSG are not a part of the United States Armed Forces and cannot be activated by the President for federal duty or for duty outside of the United States. As part of the Texas Military Forces it serves only in Texas, or rarely in neighboring states. The Commander in Chief is Rick Perry, the Governor of Texas.

“The Medical Brigade is very active in the area of community service to Texans,” said Brig. Gen. Cohen. “Each summer the Medical Brigade is very active in Operation Lone Star in the Rio Grande Valley. We helped staff five free clinics this summer and in 2013 over a one week period provided over 42,000 services to over 9,000 people.” Services at Operation Lone Star included primary medical care, dental care, and even free eye examinations and glasses.
“The Medical Brigade of the Texas State Guard is very active in the community, even when there are not disasters,” said Brig. Gen. Cohen. “We think of ourselves as Texans Helping Texans.”

Other recent community service events have included staffing first aid sites for the 13,000 bicycle riders of the annual Multiple Sclerosis150 mile Houston to Austin bicycle ride, and supplementing University of Texas Medical Branch emergency providers at the Wings over Houston Air Show.

Texas State Guard personnel actively support the state in the event of catastrophic events, and ongoing state military missions. Members receive duty pay [currently $121 daily, regardless of rank] when activated by the Governor and placed on paid state active duty for a limited number of mandatory training days. Certain expenses may be paid in case the guardsman is called to state active duty for disaster response -- for example -- car mileage, housing, and meals costs.

The Texas State Guard consists of six Civil Affairs Regiments, two Air Wings, the Medical Brigade and a Maritime Regiment. Members' entry rank depends on prior

Getting shots is part of the care provided at Operation Lone Star, a joint civilian and military operation each summer in South Texas. Personnel of the Medical Brigade of the Texas State Guard contribute significantly to mission success. (Photo by Texas Air Guard Senior Master Sgt. Michael Arellano.)
Getting shots is part of the care provided at Operation Lone Star, a joint civilian and military operation each summer in South Texas. Personnel of the Medical Brigade of the Texas State Guard contribute significantly to mission success. (Photo by Texas Air Guard Senior Master Sgt. Michael Arellano.)

federal military service and/or civilian education. Individuals with no prior military service or ROTC training must attend the Basic Orientation Training (BOT) course. Currently, BOT lasts one or two weekends, depending upon how it is structured. Licensed medical personnel typically serve as officers, often entering with advanced rank. Personnel must be between ages 17 and 70 or when joining, but may continue to serve after age 70, depending upon health and needs of the Guard.

The organizational structure follows the federal military component structure, with comparable positions, ranks, protocols, and authorities. TXSG personnel are eligible for the same State issued military awards and decorations as members of the Texas Army and Air National Guard.

The Texas military uniform worn by most of the Texas State Guard is similar to US Army's Army Combat Uniform military uniform but with Texas markings; the Maritime Regiment's uniform is similar to the Marine's MARPAT Digital Desert uniform. Air units wear a Texas variation of the U.S. Air Force uniform.

The TXSG is headquartered at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. It functions under the authority of Title 32 of the U.S. Code and Chapter 431 of the Texas Government Code.

The Chief Military Officer is Major General John F. Nichols, the Texas Adjutant General.

Personnel living in and near Bexar County who want more information about joining the Alamo Group of the Texas Medical Brigade can send an email to the commanding officer COL (TX) James Gardon, at email james.gardon@txsg.state.tx.us

Responding to the need for blood donations

By: LTC Cendy Antley

Photo of blood donation by SGT Angela SargentROUND ROCK, Texas – Responding to the need for blood donations for the victims of the recent SXSW tragedy, members of the Texas State Guard, 2nd Regiment answered the call.  On Friday, March 14, 2014 three members including SGT Angela Sargent (shown) and SSG Kevin Faure donated blood prior to their monthly drill.

The lobby in the Blood Center of Central Texas was filled when the soldiers arrived which staff stated was unusual except when events like this occur.  When asked why she felt compelled to donate, SGT Sargent responded, “The events that happened downtown caused a depletion in blood supply.  When I saw the request for more donations, I knew I had to help.”  This is just one example of the overwhelming spirit of State Guardsmen who are always willing to help a fellow Texan….or someone just visiting.

Texas Homeland Response Force welcomes visitors to certification training exercise

Soldiers from the Texas Military Forces' Homeland Response Force (HRF) treat a "casualty" during the HRF certification exercise at Camp Gruber, near Muskogee, Okla., March 5, 2014.
Soldiers from the Texas Military Forces' Homeland Response Force (HRF) treat a "casualty" during the HRF certification exercise at Camp Gruber, near Muskogee, Okla., March 5, 2014. More than 800 service members came together to train on disaster preparedness and emergency management during the exercise. Emergency management leadership from nine different states attended the exercise to observe the training. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Martha Nigrelle)

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

 

 CAMP GRUBER, Okla. - Emergency management leadership from nine different states attended the Texas Military Forces  Homeland Response Force training exercise to observe disaster preparedness certification training at Camp Gruber, near  Muskogee, Okla., March 5, 2014.

 Civilian and military visitors ranged from various fire departments and the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality, or  TCEQ, critical infrastructure director to Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, the adjutant general – Oklahoma.

 Joint Task Force 136 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Texas Military Forces' Homeland Response Force, or HRF, is  conducting a weeklong exercise involving approximately 800 service members rehearsing their response to large-scale  disasters.

 “This is the reason the National Guard is such a great tool,” said Col. Patrick Hamilton, Domestic Operations Commander,  Texas Military Forces. He explained that the HRF often conducts training with other civilian agency first responders.  Hamilton further described how the National Guard provides first responders with additional resources to assist with crisis  management.

 As guests were led through the training area they witnessed soldiers and airmen dressed in chemical suits “responding” to  a large-scale chemical attack. “Casualties,” in the exercise, were evacuated with precaution as service members ensured  the chemical threat was contained.

The scenario involved two large chemical attacks and a broken water main, said Col. Lee Schnell, Joint Task Force 136 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade commander, Texas Military Forces. Service members trained to assist first responders in casualty evacuation, triage, and search and rescue in a contaminated environment.

Even with snow covering the ground, and temperatures hovering around freezing, the service men and women seemed to maneuver easily through the makeshift village in their chemical suits to render aid. 

TCEQ, imbedded several hazardous material specialists into the training to work along side the HRF said TCEQ’s Critical Infrastructure Director Kelly Cook. 

“The HRF is a force multiplier,” said Cook. “We do a lot of the same things, but Texas is a big state and they provide much needed support for large disasters.”

There are 10 HRFs in the U.S. and each one has to certify every 24 months, said Schnell. Leadership from six different states came out to observe this exercise in order to assist with their own unit operations.

The training is a certification exercise for the HRF, but it is also preparation for the next time Texas, or any other state’s emergency response force may need their help.

“I came here today to check on the Texas Military Forces and show my support for the HRF concept,” said Cook, also explaining that this HRF falls under Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, Region 6. “The great Region 6 HRF, we love working with these guys.”

FEMA Region 6 states include Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

International history returns to the Texas National Guard

 The boxcar was one of 49 given to the U.S. in 1949 - one for each state and the then Hawaiian territory, and was inducted into the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry during a ceremony on Feb. 23, 2014.
The Texas Merci Boxcar arrives at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, Feb. 13, 2014. The boxcar was one of 49 given to the U.S. in 1949 - one for each state and the then Hawaiian territory, and was inducted into the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry during a ceremony on Feb. 23, 2014. The "Gratitude Train" or Merci boxcars were given by the people of France as a gift to the American people as a gesture of thanks for relief supplies sent following World War II and the sacrifices made by American service members on French soil during World Wars I and II. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd. Lt. Alicia Lacy)

Story by: Capt. Martha Nigrelle

 
 

CAMP MABRY, Texas - The Texas Merci boxcar, a gift from the people of France, was welcomed to the Texas Military  Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas, in a ceremony held on post, Feb. 23, 2014. 

 In 1949, this boxcar, filled with gifts by the people of France, was delivered to Camp Mabry - as a gesture of thanks to the  American service members for the sacrifices made on French soil during World Wars I and II.

 The boxcar was one of 49 given to the United States that same year – one for each state and the then Hawaiian territory.  Grand Chef de Gare David Knutson, the Texas State commander for the Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses, explained  that in 1947 the American people collected $40 million worth of relief supplies for the people of France and Italy who were  struggling from the aftereffects of World War II. In response, the people of France created the “Gratitude Train,” or the Merci  boxcars to thank the American people for these supplies, as well as the sacrifices made during both world wars.

 “This is a special day to commemorate a special relationship,” said Sujiro Seam, Consul General of France in Houston.  “French and American soldiers spilled blood together. That means much more than the dispute on how to name your fries.” 

 Although originally housed at Camp Mabry, the boxcar was moved and placed under the care of the Travis County American  Legion during the early 1950s, when space was needed to support war efforts.

 The Texas boxcar then was placed under the care of the Society of Forty Men and Eight Horses, a separately chartered  veterans’ honor society established in 1920 by veterans of World War I. The society gets its name from the stencil painted on  the side of the boxcar, “40 and 8,” indicating that the car could hold either 40 men or 8 horses. These boxcars were used heavily for military operations during both World Wars I and II.

“One of the great symbols of World War I and World War II is the boxcar,” said Jeff Hunt, Texas Military Forces museum director. “It is very fitting that the boxcar will have a permanent place with the Texas Military Forces where we can remember what Americans and French did together and continue to do together, in various places around the world.”

The ceremony boasted several unique speakers. The mayor of Austin, Lee Leffingwell, read a proclamation, making Feb. 23, 2014 Texas Merci Boxcar Day in Austin. Retired Navy Lt. Michael Thornton, and Medal of Honor recipient, attended as the keynote speaker. 

“Freedom is built on blood, sweat, and tears,” said Thornton. “Today we commemorate this.”

Freedom and the relationship between the French and the American people was the dominant theme during the ceremony, as many recalled how the boxcar symbolized the struggle for freedom that both countries’ service members have fought for together throughout the years. 

“France was the first ally of the United States,” said Seam indicating the role the French military played during the American Revolution. “But France was also the first country to recognize the Republic of Texas. I hope you Texans know that France was the first ally of Texas.”

The boxcar is on display at the Texas Military Forces museum, along with several of the gifts that arrived inside of the boxcar in 1949. For more information on how to view the boxcar visit the Texas Military Forces museum webpage at   www.texasmilitaryforcesmuseum.org.

Free tax services at Camp Mabry!

Commentary by: Michelle McBride

Every year the deadline to file taxes seems to sneak up on us, and this year is no exception. If April 15th is approaching too fast for you, then maybe the Texas Military Forces IRS-Certified volunteers can help.

Starting Feb. 8, 2014 through April 8, 2014, the Legal Assistance team at Camp Mabry will be helping Service members, veterans and dependents file their taxes free of charge.

The Soldiers in Legal Assistance are certified through an IRS training program and are able to provide customers with E-filing as well as direct deposit for returns. Most people who have worked with them have received their returns in about a two week period.

To be eligible for this service you must be one of the following:

-Military Identification Card holding member of the Texas Military Forces or Reserve
-A retiree or surviving dependent spouse

Along with these requirements you must also have a combined household income BELOW $60,000. However, eligibility exceptions will be given on a case-by-case basis. 
If you meet eligibility requirements or have any other questions contact Legal Assistance at 512-782-1169 or email them at ng.tx.txarng.mbx.legal-asst-office@mail.mil.

Brigadier General Jake Betty, Colonel Paul Watkins and Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Barreda Coined by the 4th Regiment

By: Capt. Esperanza Meza
Texas State Guard Public Affairs
Phone: 817-733-6269
Email: esperanza.meza@txsg.state.tx.us

DATE: 2/19/14

TEXAS STATE GUARD ESTABLISHES NEW UNIT IN LONGVIEW, TEXAS

DALLAS – The Texas State Guard (TXSG) has established a new unit in Longview, Tx. The 3rd Battalion, 19th Civil Affairs Regiment will begin regular training at the Longview Fire Training Academy this summer and is currently recruiting to reach its strength of 60 personnel.

The 3rd Battalion is part of the 19th Civil Affairs Regiment, which includes additional units in Dallas and Greenville. The mission of the 19th Civil Affairs Regiment is to provide mission-ready military forces to assist state and local authorities in times of emergencies and disasters.

“Texas State Guard volunteers come from every walk of life, men and women, with and without prior military service,” said Col. Robert Hastings, commander of the 19th Regiment.

The Longview unit is recruiting for members in the counties of Panola, Rusk, Cherokee, Smith, Wood, Upshur, Gregg, Harrison, Marion, Cass, Morris, Camp, and Bowie. Membership is open to Texas residents, age 17 to 70, and in good health.

“The Texas State Guard is a great organization for people looking to combine a public service opportunity with adventure and military service,” said Col. Robert Hastings. “Whether you served in the military before and would like to rejoin a military organization, or you’ve never served but just thought about it, TXSG provides a unique opportunity for military service within the state.”

The TXSG is the state's volunteer military agency; trained, organized and ready to respond when a disaster strikes and Texans need help. The TXSG is comprised of more than 2000 volunteers organized into four components – Army, Air, Medical and Maritime – with individual units assigned throughout the state. The 19th Civil Affairs Regiment trains to execute the following missions:

  Mass care sheltering
  Emergency communications
  Special needs evacuation tracking
  Wide area damage assessment
  Urban search & rescue

In recent years, the TXSG has been called to active duty for hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, and wildfires. TXSG is the lead military component for Operation Lone Star in the Rio Grande Valley – the state’s annual humanitarian medical mission – and provides support to the state’s annual Oral Rabies Vaccination Program and the Joint Operations Intelligence Center.

TXSG personnel train one weekend per month and attend a four-day annual training exercise.

For more information about the Texas State Guard, call 469-554-TXSG or go to: https://tmd.texas.gov/state-guard

LTC Grantham Takes Command of the 8th Regiment

By: SSG Malana Nall
HQ, 8th Civil Affairs Regt., TXSG
Email: malana.nall@txsg.state.tx.us

LTC E. A. "Buddy" Grantham Takes Command Of Texas State Guard's 8th Regiment

Photo: (Credit-SSG Malana Nall) LTC Buddy Grantham holds the regimental colors after accepting command of the 8th Regiment from Brigadier General Jake Betty
Photo: (Credit-SSG Malana Nall)
LTC Buddy Grantham holds the regimental colors after accepting command of the 8th Regiment from Brigadier General Jake Betty

HOUSTON, TX – Lieutenant Colonel E.A. "Buddy" Grantham assumed command of the Houston based 8th Regiment of the Texas State Guard from outgoing Colonel John Carpenter. The change of command ceremony took place at the National Guard Armory in Houston, Texas.

The 8th, the largest of the Army Component’s six regiments, encompasses 33 Counties along the Texas Gulf Coast. LTC Grantham, a resident of Houston and retired United States Army Officer, commands units based in Houston, Bryan, Huntsville, Nacogdoches and Beaumont. These units and their highly trained soldiers work with local emergency management personnel to protect citizens of the state of Texas during times of natural or manmade disasters.

The Mission of the Texas State Guard is to provide highly trained soldiers for Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), by providing ready military forces during State Declared Emergencies, to assist State and local authorities in homeland security, community service and with medical services.

The Texas State Guard (TXSG) is one of three branches of the Texas Military Forces (TXMF), reporting to the Texas Adjutant General, Major General John F. Nichols, located at Texas Military Forces HQ, Camp Mabry (Austin), Texas. The Commander-In-Chief of the Texas Military Forces is the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry. The other two branches are the Texas Army National Guard (TXARNG) and the Texas Air National Guard (TXANG).

Texas National Guard engineers say farewell to loved ones

The 454th Engineer Company colors are cased during a mobilization ceremony at the McNease Convention Center in San Angelo, Texas, Feb. 19, 2014.
The 454th Engineer Company colors are cased during a mobilization ceremony at the McNease Convention Center in San Angelo, Texas, Feb. 19, 2014. The San Angelo based engineer company will be deploying to Afghanistan to perform route clearance mission patrols and is the only company of this type within the Texas Army National Guard. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Private 1st Class Shannon Gatta/Released)

Story by: Pfc. Shannon Gatta, 454th Engineer

Company Public Affairs
 

 SAN ANGELO, Texas - Leaders with the Texas Army National Guard, together with friends and family, said goodbye and  good luck to members of 454th Engineer Company during a mobilization ceremony at the McNease Convention Center, in  San Angelo, Texas, Feb. 19, 2014. 

 The approximately 100 soldiers deploying to Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, will provide route  clearance missions with convoys and dismounted patrols, in order to detect and interrogate buried roadside bombs and other  explosive devices. 

 Just one of a handful of route clearance mission teams within the entire National Guard and the only one within the Texas  Army National Guard, the company has a potentially dangerous mission to ensure the remainder of the forces can move  freely around the battlefield. 

 “Our mission stands out as unique and vital one for the stability and safety of the Afghani people,” said Staff Sgt. Melissa  Wofford, medic noncommissioned officer with the company. “We are one of very few route clearance units in the country and  the very first to deploy with females like myself. I’m here to do the job that is needed and to support and protect my [fellow]  soldiers as well as to carry out the mission at hand.” 

With hundreds of loved ones attending the deployment ceremony to wish their loved ones well, friends and family arrived to the Concho Valley from across the state and even as far away as another country. For the only son of retired Army veteran Sgt. 1st Class Steven Alsept and his wife, the trip from Yongsan, South Korea, not only showed support for their son, Lt. Raymond Alsept, but came with advice on the eve of his first deployment. 

"[He said] listen to my NCOs," Lt. Alsept explains. "I have the final decision in our platoon but it's the NCOs that sway the decision [for me] tremendously."

Along with the focused training that each individual has received for their military occupational specialty, all of the soldiers have been through various trainings to include gunnery, medical, combative, explosive and field training in the past few months to be well-prepared for any mission given. 

This deployment to Afghanistan will mark the first overseas mission for the San Angelo-based company and an opportunity to represent the state of Texas.

“This multifaceted mission allows the National Guard’s citizen-soldiers to prove how diverse it is and be a recognizable force alongside our active duty counterparts,” said Capt. Eric Leatherman, commander of the company. 

The traditional formation of soldiers, casing of the colors, and a final salute from leadership to the company commander signified their mission a-go and served as a reminder of the absence, from friends and family, which lies ahead. 

Guest speakers, such as U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Mike Conaway, Col. Patrick Hamilton, Domestic Operations commander, Texas Military Forces, Col. Tracey Norris, 176th Engineer Brigade commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmy Leonard, 111th Engineer Battalion command sergeant major, were among those who came to show their gratitude and encouragement for those soldiers and their families.

The company will undergo further training at Fort Bliss in El Paso before leaving for Afghanistan this spring.