Military Women in Transition event coming to Camp Mabry

Commentary by: Michelle McBride

What will you do when you or your spouse decide to retire? How do you disconnect from what you have always known and handle the transition into a civilian workforce? Where do you start? These are the big questions many women in our Texas Military Forces are asking themselves daily. What some women may not know is that there are others with similar backgrounds willing to offer assistance in preparing for these big changes.

On Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Texas Military Family Support Services will host a “Military Women in Transition” event at Camp Mabry in Austin, TX. According to Shandra Sponsler, deputy branch manager of Family Support Services, the event is meant to help women in all phases of the job search, or career enhancement process, learn valuable skills. The plan is to teach attendees vital skills through a series of activities such as mock interviews to help prepare for the real thing.

“Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 33,000 Texas National Guardsmen have been called to active duty to serve their Country,” Sponsler said. “Upon their return, many need help transitioning from active duty to life as a civilian- particularly in recent years where a tough economy combined with limited job opportunities has made finding gainful employment especially difficult.”
The event schedule includes presentations, workshops, resource booths, roundtables with hiring managers, and a professional clothing closet for participants to ‘shop’ for FREE new or gently worn career-related outfits.

This is a free event which includes refreshments and youth activities for kids 6 and up. If you would like to attend please register at For more information, please contact Shandra Sponsler at or 512-782-5771.

This event is open to all branches of service.

Texas Medical Brigade holds Change of Command

Posted on: 26 Jan 2014

Texas Medical Brigade holds Change of Command

Story by: SSG Timothy Pruitt, Texas State Guard PAO

Camp Mabry, Texas – On Sunday January 26, 2014, the Texas Medical Brigade held a change of command ceremony to honor the outgoing commander, BG Luis Fernandez, and the incoming commander, BG David Cohen.

Photo of Change of CommandPhoto of Change of Command 2

Diversity in the Texas National Guard Reflects MLK’s Vision


Story by: Spc. Michael Giles, 100th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Diveristy, MLKIt is not everyday that a man or woman gets the opportunity to voice their opinion to the masses. Even less likely is the occurrence that not only is the message heard, but repeated time and time again to the point that the original speaker becomes a household name and the message legendary. Such are the words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King on that fateful day in 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln memorial in the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C.

King came from humble beginnings in Alabama, but even as a young man, he seemed destined for greatness.  Born January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, King began breaking boundaries as a teenager. His scores on college entrance exams were so exceptional that he skipped high school graduation and entered Morehouse College at the age of 15. With a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, King entered seminary in 1948 and went on to become the third generation Baptist minister following his father and grandfather.  

King was well known as a passionate and charismatic public speaker throughout his life and ultimately became recognized as one of the nation’s most significant civil rights leaders.  King is known by most for his involvement in the bus boycott that led to the 1956 Supreme Court declaration that bus segregation was unconstitutional and for the march on the Washington Mall where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. His leadership was instrumental in helping the United States achieve its current level of racial equality, which is reflected in the diversity of the Texas Army National Guard.

Recognition and celebration of King’s contributions include the Nobel Peace Prize, which he received in 1964, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, which were awarded posthumously to him in 1977 and 2004. There are an estimated 700 streets in 39 states that are named after him, and the third Monday in January every year has been declared a national holiday in his honor.

Cpl. Cornelius T. Rivers, a counterintelligence agent with the Headquarters Command 71st Theater Information Operations Group, appreciates the racial diversity he sees among the high-ranking Soldiers he works with.

 “I don’t think that would have been possible had it not been for Martin Luther King,” said Rivers. 

“His speech was not just for African Americans,” he said, referring to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. “It was equal opportunity for everyone.”

Sgt. Maj. Wilson L. Early, 36th Infantry Division’s former command sergeant majorsaid that he has seen the military become more mindful of diversity since he enlisted in 1979.

“We come from all walks of life, with many experiences,” he said. “Bringing this all together and making it work takes leaders with the mindset of mission first and the understanding that any one of us can become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Early said that the Army needs to continue making opportunities for all to succeed.  “We have had diversity at the highest levels in the Texas Army National Guard and our Army,” he said. “When Soldiers see Senior Leaders that look like them and come from the same background as them, we all do better as an Army.”

Early said that living in and creating an Army that reflects Dr. King’s dream is an ongoing process.

“The dream continues,” he said. “As we continue to make strides in this direction the dream continues to move. We have some great leaders making good decisions for the future of our Army.  Trust in them.”

Two Del Rio JOIC Analyst Receive Texas Homeland Defense Service Medals

The Two with the awardsDel Rio, TX—During a staff assistance visit, Operation Border Star Officer In Charge Col. Thomas Hamilton presented two members of the Joint Operations Intelligence Center (JOIC) the Texas Homeland Defense Service Medal.

Chief Master Sergeant Paul Lankford, Operations Manager of the Del Rio JOIC, and Staff Sergeant Jane Stahl, senior mission support specialist, were presented the medals on January 2, 2014 during a Texas State Guard staff assistance visit. The medals were awarded for, “Satisfactory service in defense support to the State of Texas under civilian authority.”

The JOIC, managed by Border Liaison Officer (BLO) Arthur J. Miller, provides border intelligence report products to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to aid in combating border related crime. Miller, a retired Texas Ranger, said, “We daily receive law enforcement reports from law enforcement agencies in our eight county area of operation (AOR), process them, add them to our data bases, then send out daily, weekly, and monthly intelligence reports.” He said the JOIC gets requests for special project-intelligence-reports, and is able to customize its data-base-stored information into the report format that is most useable for that agency.

Miller said his team works hand-in-hand with the Del Rio Sector Border Intelligence Center (BIC) daily, and each shares information with the other. “In fact, when Border Patrol needs air support, members of the JOIC dispatch the Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter to help out. It could be to locate illegal aliens in the brush, lost parties, rescue missions, or other humanitarian efforts.”

Additionally, the JOIC sends out BOLOs, Officer Safety and Awareness Bulletins, Training Bulletins, and Concealment Bulletins.

The Del Rio JOIC’s AOR consists of the following counties: Val Verde, Zavala, Dimmit, Uvalde, Real, Edwards, Maverick, and Kinney. The JOIC is funded by Operation Border Star funds, which also helps provide grant money for enhanced operations in its AOR to combat drug smuggling, alien smuggling, weapon and ammunition smuggling, and cash smuggling.

TXSG Trains for Emergency Response

Posted on: 14-JAN-14

Story by: Capt. Esperanza Meza

PFC Bannister and PFC Becker evacuate role player, SGT Cherie Southard from 4th Regiment, away from the mocked gas leak area.
PFC Bannister and PFC Becker evacuate role player, SGT Cherie Southard from 4th Regiment, away from the mocked gas leak area.

STEPHENVILLE, Texas – Tarleton State University and other local Stephenville landmarks served as training sites for a hurricane spawned tornado that caused wide spread damage as part of the scenario this past weekend. Wide Area Damage Assessment (WADA) and shelter management training were part of the tasks conducted by the volunteer citizen soldiers as observers, from TSU Emergency Management and TXSG HQ staff monitored the exercise to ensure effective communications with other key military and civilian personnel.

TXSG Major Wendell Sadler, Tarleton professor and key member in planning the event stated, “The goal of the exercise was to impress upon the TXSG, local authorities and private agencies, that disasters are going to happen and that we need to have a structure to implement,” he said. “Whether it’s setting up a shelter, a point of distribution (POD) for supplies or providing a meal, each agency must be in place to be fit into that structure in a support role.”

Local areas utilized for shelters were the Paradigm building of First Baptist Church, the National Guard Amory, Stephenville Parks and Recreation gym, the former firehouse on Harbin and Tarleton State University. The Texan Stars dance team and Rock House Residents from TSU also participated in a significant manner as role players.

Training provided Saturday morning and afternoon were necessary to keep the troop’s skills sharpened and ready for any emergency they may encounter. Two regiments, 19th and 4th along with members from 4th Air Wing, plus personnel from the Tyler Medical Unit and Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) were deployed by short briefs sent out at different times by the main operations center as to where to travel to and given instructions of their tasks for the mission, then report back to their perspective units.

TXSG representatives, Brigadier General Jake Betty, the Deputy Commanding General of the Texas State Guard, Colonel Paul Watkins, Chief of Staff, Army and

19th Regiment 1st Battalion troops, (L) PFC Joshua Smith and (R) PFC Hunter Becker, carry one of the Texan Star dance team members, Nichole Fort, playing as the injured victim, for medical attention during the WADA exercise while Callie Childers, Texan Star, PFC John Rizo (L) and PFC Ronny Bannister(R) look on.
19th Regiment 1st Battalion troops, (L) PFC Joshua Smith and (R) PFC Hunter Becker, carry one of the Texan Star dance team members, Nichole Fort, playing as the injured victim, for medical attention during the WADA exercise while Callie Childers, Texan Star, PFC John Rizo (L) and PFC Ronny Bannister(R) look on.

Lieutentant Colonel Pedro Barreda, G3 Operations, were on site in the operations center to evaluate the event and provide feedback. Chief Warrant Officer 2, Janet Schmelzer, also a Tarleton professor, served as liaison between the member agencies and TXSG. Tarleton student and TXSG member, Private First Class (PFC) James Ford, from 4th Regiment, served as part of the exercise.

New 19th Regiment TXSG member, Private First Class (PFC) Zaw Muang, participating in his first exercise stated, “I have never been a victim of a natural disaster and stayed in a shelter. The exercise gave me a different perspective and related me back to Katrina in being more sympathetic to the needs of the victims.”

One new addition in the scenario involved ATMOS Energy in creating a mock gas leak while the troops were conducting WADA. As explained by Jimmy Little, an ATMOS employee and observer, “When you have a natural disaster, like a tornado, you are going to have gas meters blown away and exposed broken lines and this is to teach them to recognize the hazards and block the area off till the gas company comes around.”

“The gas leak exercise is to identify and create a safe zone which is upwind from the leak to where you do not smell it,” added Renea Price, another ATMOS employee. “Once you smell it, you are not supposed to stand in front of it and make a phone call or use your radio and stay in the safe zone and block the perimeter.”

4th Regiment member and role player, Sergeant Cherie Southard, stated, “As a role player in the WADA mission for the 19th Regiment I was a victim of a gas leak. It was definitely a great learning experience and valuable training event for the role players as it was for the troops of the 19th Regiment as the role players were able to evaluate the soldiers’ actions. I feel certain we will use what they learned in the event if we are put in a similar situation,” she said. “The motto of the Texas State Guard, Texans helping Texas, is similar to Regimental joint training, Regiments helping Regiments.”

“We cannot thank enough TSU President, Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio. Also, TSU Emergency Control Center, Chief Alvin Allcon and the university police department in supporting this event the past 4 years,” said Major Sadler. Thanks also goes to Risk Management Director Kent Styron, Jamie Trusner, and the IT Services Network and Communications department.”

During this joyous time of the year

During this joyous time of the year, I would like to wish a Merry Christmas to each of you, your families and friends. 
Over the past year each of you has stood ready to serve fellow Texans at a moment's notice. 
Thank you for your service to Texas. I am looking forward to a great 2014 and hope you are too!

Tony Rodriguez

Soldiers from the 19th Regiment delivered toys

Group Photo with two large containers full of toysSoldiers from 19th Regiment delivered toys raised during ‘Young Heroes of the Guard’ toy drive this past weekend to two children’s hospitals, Medical City Children’s and Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Genesis shelter was also provided toys for children from homes of domestic abuse. TXSG troops were able to deliver some toys and a smile to others during their visit. The toy drive was headed by Chaplain Vick and 2LT Adam Mosser.

Rhueben Towne of the Texas State Guards 5th Air Wing

Group Photo with a large amount of toys in boxes“We just wanted to make Christmas a little brighter for the children who have to be in the hospital” said Staff Sargent Rhueben Towne of the Texas State Guards 5th Air Wing. Several other cities throughout Texas have done the toy drive for the Young Heroes of the Guard in the past few years and we thought it was time to add Houston. We put out boxes around the city and Houstonians donated as they usually do. We chose Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital as the recipient. The hospital provides toys at Christmas, birthdays, after difficult procedures and several other parties, so they have a year round need. Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital also has several playrooms which are stocked with games and toys.

Thursday December 19th members of the 5th Air wing and the Houston MRG delivered over 730 toys to the hospital. They were greeted by Richard Weir the Director, Facility Operations of Child Life Department. Staff members also said it was the largest single donation Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital has received to date. The TX State Guard toy program has expanded statewide and has brought comfort to the smallest Texans at this important time of year.

The 4th Air Wing of the Texas State Guard made a visit to the hospital to hand out donated toys

ABILENE, Texas -
Christmas came early for several sick kids at Hendrick Children's Hospital Thursday.

"Unfortunately we’re in the hospital so it doesn't quite feel like home," said Olivia Brigham whose daughter is at Hendrick Children’s Hospital.

The 4th Air Wing of the Texas State Guard made a visit to the hospital to hand out donated gifts.

The event is called "Young Heroes of the Guard" and this is the first year Hendrick Children's Hospital has been included in it.

"It was surprising, I didn't know. It was very exciting. We went in there and there were so many friendly faces and presents and our daughter was just so elated and so excited to pick out her presents," said Brigham.

"It's a pleasure just to watch these kids come in and they're just having a good time and that's just a good feeling," said First Lt. Don Howe of the 4th Air Wing.

The goal is to leave a year's worth of toys behind at every hospital they visit. Where do the toys come from?

"The toys came from all the men and women of the different Air Support Groups and the 4th Air Wing and they bought these and they donated them," said Howe.

This year the 4th Air Wing visited more than 900 hospital beds around Texas with one goal in mind.

"For them to have a Merry Christmas," Howe said.

"It makes it feel a little bit more like home," said Brigham.

To donate toys to the Young Heroes of the Guard mail them to 2200 W. 35th Street, Building 32, Austin, TX 78763


Texas State Guard HQ delivered 1,500 toys

Group Photo of TXSG Personnel and Hospital staffA few days before Christmas, members of the Texas State Guard HQ delivered 1,500 toys to Dell Children's Hospital in Austin. This was the third year that the group collected for this hospital and it was the largest delivery so far. SGT John Gately of the J6 section headed up the drive supported by COL Joe Jelinski, TXSG CSM Bell and MSG Lightfoot.

SGT Gately has been collecting toys for this drive for the last 4 years. He started with the 19th Regiment and their toy drive at Dallas Children's hospital and when he transferred to HQ, he continued the work to benefit a hospital in Austin. During the last 4 toy drives, SGT Gately has collected almost 4,000 toys. When asked why he is so passionate about this effort he stated; " when I was 6 years old, I broke my leg. When he got out of the hospital, his parents had gotten him a stuffed teddy bear, and he remembers how happy it made him. Now he wants to help bring the same joy to other children."

This year he had a special helper. His son PFC Jacob Gately helped him with the toy collection and he's hoping the "addiction" catches on for him, too.