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Texas Veterans Blog

VLB Salutes the National Guard on its 385th Birthday

The Texas Veterans Land Board salutes all our National Guard soldiers today, on its 385th birthday. Yes, that’s correct and is not a misprint. The National Guard dates itself back to December 13, 1636, when the various militias of the Massachusetts colony were consolidated into three regiments, controlled by the colonial legislature. There are actually four Massachusetts National Guard units who are considered direct descendants of those regiments organized in the seventeenth century.

Today, the National Guard consists of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard. The Air National Guard was created in 1947 at the same time as the United States Air Force.

All National Guardsmen are citizen soldiers. That means they maintain a civilian career and a life outside that of active duty military. They typically train one weekend a month, two full weeks during the summer, and are paid compensation that matches. Most qualify for education financial assistance and other military benefits.

While Guardsmen have been considered “weekend warriors” in the past military tradition, today that reality is very different. With the focus on homeland security, global military operations and the war on terror, the National Guard is a vital part of our modern military force. Since 2001, more than 650,000 National Guardsmen have been activated for duty at home and abroad. The National Guard fills in holes that the active duty military finds in its ranks and operations. Once the mission is accomplished, these men and women return to their civilian lives.

Of course, thanks to the dual role of the National Guard, serving as both militia and Armed Forces, these soldiers can be called to duty by the President of the United States, for a federal response, or by the governor of their own state, to respond to an emergency close to home. These include floods, hurricanes, fires and riots, to name but a few.

In fact, the Texas National Guard has worked tirelessly in many situations, including notably their response to Hurricane Harvey. They trained ahead of the hurricane season to prepare, and were ready when Harvey made landfall in August 2017. Over 12,000 Texas National Guardsmen were mobilized within three days, and worked around the clock to mitigate the effects of the destructive storm. It was the first time since World War I that the entire Texas force was mobilized at the same time.

“While we don’t want to have to put our training to the test during a tragedy, our citizen-guardsmen remain prepared to help save lives and property, when called,” said Texas Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Patrick M. Hamilton, Dual Status Commander for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.

Texas Guardsmen helped with everything from safety operations, search and rescue to critical life support, and logistics support. They waded through high waters to rescue citizens, took boats out to those stranded, and waited in shelters with warm blankets and a smile on their faces to greet the refugees from the waters. Once the rain stopped and waters began to recede, the Texas Military Department organized 30 distribution centers to help those most affected, and Guardsmen, working with volunteers from all over the country, distributed food, clean water, hygiene, baby and pet products to more than 100,000 Texan families in cities from Corpus Christi to Beaumont as part of the relief operations.

In praise of the Texas National Guard, Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the Adjutant General of Texas said, “The Texas Military Department’s response to Hurricane Harvey, alongside our partners, saved lives and helped many Texans take the first step towards rebuilding.”

The Texas VLB acknowledges the bravery of these citizen soldiers, who work hard in their civilian lives, but also train for the two roles of the National Guard, serving their country and their state in a way that is so needed. Thank you to all who are serving in the National Guard today, and to all those who have served previously. We salute you for your service.

The Texas VLB is happy to provide any needed help for these American heroes. The mission for the VLB is “to ensure that we offer the very best package of Veterans benefits in the country and those of us who work for the VLB strive to meet those goals every day. For more than 70 years, we have had the honor to serve Veterans, Military Members and their families in Texas, and we look forward to keeping that promise in the years to come.” Call 1–800–252–8387, email VLBinfo@glo.texas.gov, or visit vlb.texas.gov to see the different benefits available.

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A blog for the Texas Veterans Land Board that provides in-depth information on benefits, programs and resources for Veterans, military members and their families in Texas.