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Twenty-two Soldiers of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team arrived at Fort Hood, Texas Dec. 17 after being deployed to Kuwait as a part of the Base Defense Operations Center (BDOC) - and 21 of those Soldiers arrived in Madison, Wisconsin Dec. 20 to waiting families and friends.

Maj. John Brosius, BDOC commander, remained behind at Fort Hood to finish up demobilization administrative details while the rest of the returning Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers went ahead to Wisconsin.

MAUSTON, Wis. - The 33rd class of the Wisconsin National Guard's Challenge Academy celebrated its graduation at Mauston High School Dec. 20.

A testament to the "challenge" aspect of Challenge Academy, 107 of the 169 at-risk teenagers - 63 percent - who began the course July 24 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

MADISON, Wis. ó In Afghanistan, their job was to safely ferry very important people ó brigadier generals and higher ó across an austere landscape in a small airplane.

But for the families and friends gathered Dec. 16 at a hangar in Madison, Wisconsin, each of the seven members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Detachment 52 returning from a nine-month deployment was a VIP.

MILWAUKEE - Emotions ran high Dec. 13 as families began to gather in the Milwaukee Room at General Mitchell International Airport. Melissa Kluka was one of the first to arrive at the airport, anxiously awaiting the arrival of her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Kluka.

As Kluka's wife waited alongside their daughter, Mya, she grabbed an extra pack of tissues and a bottle of water. She waited for about 10 minutes before walking over to the concourse gate to wait there, almost 45 minutes before her husband's flight was scheduled to land.

MILWAUKEE - Elves lined the hallway as families arrived Dec. 13 to pick up their Santa Liner boarding passes. Christmas music played in the background and tinsel and lights draped the ceilings. As the children rounded the corner to the small air terminal, smiles beamed across their faces ó Mrs. Claus was waiting for them. These children were about to take a ride of their lives to the North Pole.

The 128th Air Refueling Wing hosted the 30th annual Flight to the North Pole, an event for children battling life-threatening illnesses to take a special ride to the North Pole.



The oldest military force in the Department of Defense – the National Guard – turns 378 today.

On December 13, 1636, a colonial militia of Minutemen organized in the fledgling Massachusetts Bay Colony to protect the settlement. This group of ordinary Citizen Soldiers became the first state-organized military force in what would become the United States.

Other militias formed in their respective colonies in the coming years, and it was these Minutemen that ultimately laid down their plows and picked up their muskets to secure American independence from the British crown.

It was these Citizen Soldiers that, as Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April’s breeze unfurled, here once the embattled farmer’s stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.”

Today we honor the storied heritage of the National Guard and its Citizen Soldiers and Airmen that still, to this day, remain America’s minutemen – trusted at home, and proven abroad.

Since those early days of colonial militias, Lexington and Concord and the struggle for American independence, the National Guard has been Always Ready, Always There.

The National Guard has been uniquely positioned and trained for its unique dual mission unlike any other force in America’s military arsenal. Our nation’s Citizen Soldiers and Airmen stand ready to assist when rising floodwaters or forest fires threaten homes, businesses and infrastructure. They are on the scene when tornados tear through communities or hurricanes swamp cities. They patrol in blizzard conditions rendering aid to stranded motorists. They respond in cases of domestic terrorism or hazardous materials.

But they are simultaneously prepared to go into combat with their active duty and reserve brethren. More than 11,500 of Wisconsin’s Guardsmen have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in the years since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Just this week, more than 150 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 829th Engineer Company returned from Afghanistan, as nearly 100 more from the 950th Engineer Company prepared for a deployment of their own.

Just last winter, the same 950th Engineer Company, which is now training to clear Afghan roads of improvised explosive devices, was assisting stranded motorists caught in an intense snowstorm.

Their service represents the dual-mission the National Guard has filled for nearly four centuries – trusted at home, proven abroad.


VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Wind, snow and freezing rain couldn't douse the warm welcome families and friends gave the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 829th Engineer Company Monday afternoon.

"This is the best weather I've seen in nine months," said Pvt. 2nd Class Hayden Panzer, a plumber with the 829th, as he walked from the passenger jet to the hangar where dozens of families eagerly awaited their Soldiers. His family was unable to make it to the welcome home ceremony, but visiting them was on top of his agenda after the ceremony.

PORTAGE, Wis. - The public had the opportunity to honor a special part of the past of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 132nd Brigade Support Battalion headquarters, and see new training accommodations, during an open house Dec. 6 at the unit armory.

Visitors could stop at various displays explaining the storied history of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and see current equipment the unit uses to conduct its mission.

Sgt. Michael C. Black, a combat medic in the Wisconsin Army National Guard from Brookfield, Wisconsin, was awarded the Soldier's Medal for providing lifesaving medical care to a young mother involved in a serious auto accident. He is one of three currently serving Wisconsin National Guard members to be awarded this medal.

The Soldier's Medal is approved by the President of the United States and is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who distinguish themselves by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.

Three of the 90 women featured in the exhibit "In a Heartbeat" at Arlington National Cemetery's Women in Military Service for America Memorial have Wisconsin National Guard connections.

Col. Joane Mathews, chief of staff for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, Staff Sgt. Sonia Buchanan with the Wisconsin Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, and Carolyn Morgan, a former Wisconsin Air National Guard technical sergeant and former Service Member Support Division member, each have black-and-white photos and a short personal message on display at the exhibit, which runs through September 2015.

Approximately 40 Soldiers from Sussex, Wisconsin-based Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, landed safely in the United States Dec. 2. The group represents approximately half of the nearly 80-Soldier unit that originally deployed to Afghanistan in the spring.

The remainder of the unit will remain in Afghanistan and continue providing high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) fire support until a later date to be determined.

The Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing and the Madison, Wisconsin-based 115th Fighter Wing essentially comprise two-thirds of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. The two units often train together - the 128th's KC-135 refuelers frequently refuel the 115th's F-16 fighter jets, but they also team up on other state projects and missions.

But that cooperation cools off inside a hockey rink.

Every time the Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 950th Engineer Company go out on a mission, they know they are saving lives.

The route clearance company from Superior, Wisconsin, which is in the final phase of its pre-mobilization training at Fort Bliss, Texas, is one of just a handful of units within the Army specifically designed to combat the threat posed by improvised explosive devices. Secure roadways and infrastructure are key to the international coalition's military efforts in Afghanistan. They are also vital corridors for Afghan civilians trying to go about their daily lives.

Soldiers and family members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 829th Engineer Company have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as the unit landed safely on U.S. soil Nov. 25 after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

The 160-Soldier unit returned to Fort Bliss, Texas, where it will go through the de-mobilization process before returning to Wisconsin.

In military parlance, decorations typically refer to military medals and awards worn on the uniform, representing honorable achievement.

In much the same way, the hand-made decorations that adorn the Tribute to Our Troops tree at the Executive Residence honor the service of deployed Wisconsin service members, as well as the memory of Wisconsin service members who have died.

VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Thirty-two military personnel and 23 civilians, all from the state of Wisconsin, joined together for three days of unified reception, staging, onward movement and integration training and exercises at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, Nov. 17-19.

The three-day training and exercise event was designed to test the knowledge and response capabilities of all personnel involved, should an emergency situation arise in the state. Development of the URSOI process integrates state agencies and the National Guard during state emergencies and allows them to work together efficiently.

Two hand-selected teams of Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen trained at Volk Field, Wisconsin, Oct. 30-Nov. 2 to respond in the event of an Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the state.

The teams, known as Joint Healthcare Assistance Teams, could augment hospitals and medical professionals if the virus were to surface in Wisconsin. The National Guard will train and prepare a third JHAT Dec. 10.

GREEN BAY, Wis. - For 10 family members of deployed Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers, it may have been the next best thing to being there.

Standing on Lambeau Field, home of the National Football League's Green Bay Packers, the family members saw their loved ones on the stadium jumbotron screens, sending a live videoconference from Afghanistan as part of the Packers' "Salute to Service" game Nov. 9.

Gov. Scott Walker and first lady Tonette Walker invite family members of Wisconsin's service members - past and present, home and away - to send a holiday ornament dedicated to their loved one for this year's "Tribute to our Troops" holiday tree.

The ornaments will be displayed on one of the large evergreen trees in the executive residence during December's holiday tours. The ornaments can be plain or fancy, as well as personalized.

14poster_highres-150x150.jpgThis past summer marked the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One – the supposed “War to end all wars.” Nine million Soldiers from the warring nations would die in that war – with countless more civilian casualties.

The U.S. military paid dearly on the battlefields of Europe in that conflict as it suffered more than 320,000 casualties in just over one year of fighting.

Wisconsin sent more than 122,000 of its native sons and daughters to the First World War, and nearly 4,000 made the ultimate sacrifice.

In the wake of the carnage of the Great War, the world would mark the first Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, in the hope that the day would serve as a reminder of the costs of war.

No veterans of the First World War remain with us today, but their spirit and their legacy survives.

Within our own Wisconsin National Guard, the famed Red Arrow, which earned its moniker by piercing enemy lines as the 32nd Division in France during World War I, lives on in the form of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. A new generation of Red Arrow veterans was born in the years following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. They, along with more than 11,500 fellow Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard would deploy to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those Guardsmen made up almost one-third of the more than 34,000 Wisconsinites who served and continued to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hundreds of Wisconsinites, including four units currently deployed from the Wisconsin Army National Guard, remain overseas right now.

This new generation of veterans is the latest in a long and proud tradition of Wisconsin military service that dates back all the way to our earliest days of statehood.

During the American Civil War, some 91,000 Wisconsinites, which accounted for 11 percent of the state’s population at the time, served in the War Between the States. Another 5,000 would serve in the Spanish-American War, while more than 4,000 – many from the Wisconsin National Guard, served along the Mexican border in the years preceding World War I.

In World War II, the 32nd Division once again fought its way through the South Pacific in New Guinea and the Philippines, while spending more days in combat than any other American division. Ultimately, some 332,000 Wisconsinites earned the right to be called a veteran as the American military waged war in the Pacific and Europe simultaneously.

More than 132,000 served in Korea – some with the newly formed Wisconsin Air National Guard in the skies above the Korean Peninsula, and another 165,000 would serve in Vietnam. A decade before the 9/11 attacks, another generation of Wisconsin veterans formed as 10,000 would deploy to the Persian Gulf War.

More than 900,000 of Wisconsin’s finest men and women have gone to war the state’s storied history of military service.

As the adjutant general of Wisconsin, I’m especially proud of the role played by the men and women of the National Guard defending American since our nation’s earliest origins. The National Guard traces its lineage all the way back to 1636, when colonial militias protected their citizens.

Those early militiamen were farmers, tradesmen and shipbuilders – among other occupations – that dropped their plows and tools and picked up their rifles to guarantee the freedom upon which this nation was founded.

Today, I see that same spirit in our veterans and National Guard Soldiers and Airmen. Like their forefathers, they too live civilian lives until their nation or their state calls upon them to serve. Whether they hold jobs or attend school, our Citizen Soldiers and Airmen are always ready to answer the call.

Our veterans represent less than one percent of our nation’s population. That one percent has shouldered the load for an entire nation of freedom-loving people. And by bearing that heavy burden, the American combat veteran has secured for us – peace prosperity, security, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness for us and future generations of Americans.

On this Veterans Day, I ask that you remember that it was the veteran ducking machine gun fire in a trench, freezing in a foxhole at Bastogne or sweating through the jungles of Vietnam that won the freedom and prosperity that we enjoy as Americans today. It was the veteran patrolling in the blindness of a sandstorm or shivering at Valley Forge who fought to secure our birthright as a free and independent people.


When the Soldiers of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 951st Engineer Company participated in a patching ceremony Sept. 28 at both the Tomahawk and Rhinelander Army National Guard armories to receive the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team's distinctive Red Arrow unit patch, it marked the beginning of a transformation in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

The unit, formerly part of the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade's 724th Engineer Battalion, received the Red Arrow patch as a part of the ongoing Army-directed reorganization of units in the Wisconsin National Guard.

A Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldier joined elite company when she graduated as the runner-up honor graduate at the Army's Sapper leader course. She became just the second female in the state to complete the grueling course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and the 66th nationwide.

2nd Lt. Kayla Krueger, currently assigned to the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 229th Engineer Company, was the lone female in her class that began with 40 Soldiers. She graduated second in her class in August with just 13 others when the course concluded 28 days later.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team will partner with an active duty brigade combat team to share knowledge, tactics and best practices as part of an Army initiative to build collaboration between the National Guard and its active duty counterparts.

Called the Total Force Partnership Program, each active duty brigade combat team will be paired with a sister National Guard brigade combat team. Wisconsin's Red Arrow will be paired with the Army's Third Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Excellence doesn't just happen. It requires continuous improvement, self-assessment and a commitment to being the best.

That mentality has resulted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard being named a finalist in the annual Army Communities of Excellence competition.

The proof was in the pudding, so to speak, regarding the culinary skills of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Headquarters Company, 257th Brigade Support Battalion food service section. But now the best mess section in the Army National Guard - and second best in the reserve component - has the hardware to show for it.

Unit representatives were on hand to receive a plaque, engraved with their achievement in the 2013 Department of the Army Philip A. Connelly Awards Program, during an Oct. 18 ceremony in Daley Hall in the Wisconsin Military Academy, Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

Seven companies from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's most diverse battalion came together at Volk Field in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, for a rare weekend of combined training Oct. 17-19.

On the surface, the 641st Troop Command Battalion is made up of individual units with seemingly little connection. The battalion includes units like the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, the 135th Medical Company, the 273rd Engineer Company, the 132nd Army Band, the 457th Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Company, the 1967th Contingency Contracting Team and its battalion headquarters company.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Retired Master Sgt. David Voght spent the final seven years of his 30-year military career at the Wisconsin Military Academy as an instructor and staff noncommissioned officer. The positive impact he made during that time was recognized Oct. 11 when he was inducted into the Wisconsin Military Academy Hall of Fame.

SUPERIOR, Wis. - While U.S. operations in Afghanistan are changing - military bases are closing, fewer troops will deploy there in the future, and Operation Enduring Freedom will transition to Operation Resolute Support - the need to keep traffic routes clear of roadside bombs has not changed.

That important job will soon fall to the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 950th Engineer Company, which will head to Fort Bliss, Texas for several weeks of pre-deployment training before they hit the roads in eastern Afghanistan.

Approximately six months ago, the topic was brought up: Could the 115th Fighter Wing help a local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8483 move an F-4S Phantom II static display from Indiana to Wisconsin?

More than 30 U.S. Airmen with the civil engineering squadron of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, completed hands-on annual training while gutting and renovating a cabin that belongs to Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin Sept. 13-27.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. - While the new class of second lieutenants and warrant officers formed a relatively short line as they filed in for their commissioning ceremony Oct. 11, the Wisconsin National Guard's senior officer extended that line back to Concord and Lexington nearly 230 years ago, and the shot heard 'round the world.

Cyber crimes in the news recently have included the electronic looting of credit card information from large retail chains, and posting explicit or compromising celebrity photos lifted from supposedly secure accounts.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 950th Engineer Clearance Company spent the first part of October at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, preparing for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

VOLK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Wis. - Citizen Airmen are spread throughout our community. They work as fire fighters, policemen, accountants, teachers and administrators. They are prepared to deploy at a moment's notice, and their training provides them with valuable tools they can use in their everyday lives.

Four Airmen with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing received Air Force Association awards Sept. 18 at the 2014 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C.

GREEN BAY, Wis. - During a visit to Pioneer Elementary School in the Ashwaubenon School District, Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch announced the return of the Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) program to Wisconsin classrooms.

A group of 27 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers put on their packs to honor the nation's fallen during a half-marathon in Whitewater, Wisconsin, Sept. 21.

Earlier this month, the 115th Fighter Wing learned that it would receive the 2013 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - its eighth such award.

suicide_prev_logo-150x150.jpgEditors note: As we prepare to conclude Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, Capt. Sean Murphy, commander of B Company, 257th Brigade Support Battalion, shared his thoughts after attending an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) program workshop over the summer at Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

“We may have a suicide situation.”

These are the words no leader wants to hear, but it happens far too often.

The Wisconsin National Guard, through its Service Member Support Division, has been working hard to make sure units and leaders are prepared through its Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) workshops.

The workshops have taken place in locations throughout the state, and I had the opportunity to attend one at Camp American Legion in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.

Camp American Legion’s mission is to provide rest, relaxation, recuperation and rehabilitation to Wisconsin veterans of all ages, actively serving military service members and their families, making it a perfect place to host the event.

We were lodged in cottages, and American Legion staff and volunteers served the meals. There was even a camp clown for the children who setup activities just for them. Soldiers were not the only attendees, as family members and other state employees also participated.

The instruction centered on meeting the needs of persons at risk through a strategy called “The Pathway for Assisting Life,” or PAL. PAL helps individuals confronted with a potentially suicidal person by providing a framework to use. It consists of connecting with suicide, understanding choices and assisting life.

One phrase continued to come through during the two-day training – “Safe for now.” Make the individual safe for now, and then assist them in seeking professional assistance.

The instructors taught and demonstrated the process before each student had the opportunity to practice for themselves, and the training culminated with one-on-one role playing scenarios where each student demonstrated his or her new skills.

So far Wisconsin has trained more than 400 Soldiers, employees, family members and volunteers, making it a safer place for everyone.

For more information on the ASIST program, contact Mr. Brian Skanron at or Sgt. 1st Class Donald Grundy at .


GOLD_STAR_LPP-150x150.jpgToday marks this year’s observance of Gold Star Mother’s Day – when the nation pauses to recognize the sacrifices of our Gold Star Families – all of whom lost loved ones in service to our nation, and on this day we remember the lives of the 10 Wisconsin National Guardsmen who have given their lives defending our freedom since 9/11.

We honor their families, as we also honor and remember the thousands of other American families who have sacrificed so much to defend liberty since our nation’s founding.

The tradition of hanging Service Flags or banners for deployed loved ones began during the First World War.

The flags included a blue star for each immediate family member serving in the armed forces during periods of war or hostilities. If that service member was killed in action the blue star was to be replaced with a gold star. The gold star served as a reminder to that community about the sacrifice paid by that family for their country.

In 1936, the United States began observing Gold Star Mothers Day on the last Sunday of September.

The strength of our nation is its military. The strength of our military is the men and women who serve, and the strength of our service members is our families. And no one has given more for our nation than the families of our fallen.


The importance of military-to-military partnerships and cooperation has been on display in recent weeks as the U.S. and partner nations work to combat the growing threat posed by extremist militants in the Middle East.

When you're only the second National Guard field artillery unit to conduct a combat fire support mission in Afghanistan, you're in select company. That's where the Soldiers of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery find themselves as they continue their deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

When communications sections chief Staff Sgt. Sean Huolihan was deployed to Afghanistan, he had no idea that his additional duty as the unit historian would land him a gallery showing of his photography work at the National Guard Museum in Washington, D.C.

MILWAUKEE - Before the sun crests the treetops that flank that backside of Airman 1st Class Richard Wengler's house, the 36-year-old father of two young boys gives them a kiss goodbye. He prepares to leave one career and report for duty at the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Maintenance Squadron, for his other career. This sounds familiar to most who serve in the military, leaving their family to report for service. Unlike most people who have a 40-hour work week to earn an income working in an office, working for a municipality, or working for the local cable provider, Wengler's full-time job does not garner him a paycheck. It offers him something many parents would love to say is their full-time career. Wengler is a stay-at-home dad.

Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, hosted an online town hall Sept. 16, where he took questions from deployed Guardsmen, their families and other service members on a wide range of topics.

Not everybody in uniform taking the field this season at Miller Park - home of Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers - was a professional baseball player.

Approximately 70 employers and employees from the Madison area attended an Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) event here Sept. 5, recognizing employers who went above and beyond in their support of Guard and Reserve service members.

As the nation reflected on the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the Wisconsin National Guard's 54th Civil Support Team was hard at work training to combat terrorism here at home.

When most teenage boys turn 15 years old, they're only thinking about themselves. Not Ben Sampson, of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade played a role in a major international military exercise in August.



Thirteen years ago today marked one of the most horrific days in American history.

The tragic events that befell our country that fateful day vaulted our military into what will be more than 13 years of war.

We take it for granted that our nation remembers September 11, 2001, and the patriotism that ensued and united this country in the days that followed. But our youngest Soldiers and Airmen today were just entering grade school when terrorists hijacked four planes and set them on a collision course with the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. The fourth was heroically re-taken by passengers who fought back against the terrorist hijackers and forced the plane to crash in a Pennsylvania field.

Nearly 3,000 Americans died in the attacks, and thousands more would die in the conflicts that followed as the U.S. embarked on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Today, we remain engaged in Afghanistan – this after eight concurrent years of war in Iraq.

Wisconsin has served its nation well since September 11. Nearly 35,000 Badger State citizens have deployed in support of operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nearly 12,000 of those Soldiers and Airmen hailed from the ranks of the Wisconsin National Guard, and nearly every unit in the Wisconsin National Guard has mobilized since September 11, 2001.

Still today, more than 250 members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard are serving in Afghanistan with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, the 829th Engineer Company and Detachment 52 of the Operational Support Airlift Command. Nearly 100 more from the 950th Engineer Company will join them in the coming months, and others remain deployed around the world supporting global operations and combating terrorism.

The post-9/11 world is one in which America’s best and brightest – our military men and women in uniform – are being asked to bear a heavy load to protect our nation from the evils that threaten it from abroad. This generation of warriors has shouldered that burden as valiantly as its predecessor generations carried the torch of freedom in past conflicts.

Our military represents less than one percent of our nation’s population, yet that one percent has been at war for nearly 13 years. For much of that time, it fought two wars simultaneously.

Our military has paid a steep price as its combated terrorism around the globe. The Wisconsin National Guard has lost 10 of its own in combat zones. The State of Wisconsin has lost 125.

Though the events of September 11, 2001, fade further into history with each passing year, we must never forget those who lost their lives that September morning. And we must never forget those that served and lost their lives in its wake to secure our nation in an uncertain world.

Just as important is remembering the unity and patriotism America shared in the days and weeks following the attacks as well as everything that makes this country worth fighting for.


Hybrid vehicles are coming to the Air National Guard, and 10 Airmen are now better prepared to handle their specific maintenance requirements after completing the Air National Guard's very first hybrid vehicle maintenance course Aug. 29 at Volk Field.

MADISON, Wis. - Retired Brig. Gen. Gerald C. Olesen was inducted into the Wisconsin Air National Guard Hall of Fame during a Sept. 6 ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters.

The names from antiquity - Sophocles, Ajax, Tecmessa - may sound strange to modern ears. But the message they bring should resonate as clearly today as when they were first delivered nearly 2,500 years ago.

MADISON, Wis. - When Aaron Hunnel crosses the finish line at the Ironman Wisconsin Sept. 6, he will join many of the other competitors in completing his first Ironman triathlon.

Though small in number, a Wisconsin Army National Guard unit is doing big things in Afghanistan.

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing recognized three outstanding senior enlisted leaders during a recent promotion ceremony.

MADISON, WIS. - The Wisconsin National Guard will host two performances of the Theater of War: Soldiers and Citizens Tour at the DeForest Area High School Performing Arts Center Sept. 6 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Even with the kickoff to football, the fall sports season and the start of their collegiate academic careers looming, freshman student-athletes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found time to write letters of appreciation to deployed Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

The Green Bay Packers honored more than 75 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard in a pre-game ceremony Aug. 22 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Approximately 130 Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing participated in RED FLAG-Alaska, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Aug. 7-22, where they refreshed skills and faced real-world scenarios to test their abilities in a high-paced environment.

MADISON, Wis. - Airmen pouring concrete, turning windows into walls and installing doors were active throughout the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin, August 3-22.

The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Control Squadron earned the right to call itself the best in the Air Force.

Members of Wisconsin state government and representatives of the state's congressional delegation visited Wisconsin National Guard facilities at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, Aug. 15.

When Sgt. 1st Class Cody Krepline returned from Afghanistan after his 2013 deployment with the Wisconsin Army National Guardís Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, he began the process of reintegrating back into civilian life.

The engine is loud. Shadows from the rotor blades are constantly hitting the ground. The Airmen inside are given the go-ahead to exit the UH-60 Black Hawk. One by one they exit, ducking down to ensure they avoid the blades.



The United States and its allies achieved total victory and unconditional surrender from the Japanese on Aug. 15, 1945 – Victory over Japan Day. While the formal surrender took place aboard the U.S.S. Missouri several weeks later on Sept. 2, the war was over, bringing years of fighting to a close.

For the millions of U.S. service members who had stormed the beaches of the South Pacific or Normandy, flew sorties in hostile skies, froze in foxholes outside of Bastogne, or swatted mosquitoes in the jungles of New Guinea, VJ Day was especially sweet. Hostilities had ended in Europe several months before.

The Second World War was among the 32nd Infantry Division’s finest hours, and it spent more days fighting the Japanese than any other division in the war. Made up of National Guardsmen from Wisconsin and Michigan, the 32nd had been trained to fight a mechanized war in Europe – a far cry from the jungle warfare that defined its campaign in the Pacific.

The men of the Red Arrow were untrained in jungle warfare when they arrived in Australia in May 1942, awaiting orders to New Guinea. The 32nd became the first American infantry unit ordered into combat for the American counter-offensive in the Pacific, and elements of it became the first troops ever airlifted into combat, when they were flown over the Owen Stanley Mountains in New Guinea.

The Red Arrow ultimately fought in six major engagements and four campaigns totaling 654 days of combat – more than any other American division during World War II. The unit’s combat operations took them from the Buna Campaign and several other operations in New Guinea to the Philippines and ultimately to the Japanese home islands in the weeks following VJ Day.

All told, Soldiers of the Red Arrow earned 11 Medals of Honor, 157 Distinguished Service Crosses, 49 Legion of Merit Awards, 845 Silver Stars, 1,854 Bronze Stars, 89 Air Medals, 78 Soldiers’ Medals, and 11,500 Purple Hearts.

While these feats sound impressive, the 32nd paid dearly for its gains in the Pacific. In the Buna Campaign alone, the division of 9,825 men, suffered roughly the same amount of casualties, two-thirds due to illnesses like malaria, dengue fever, jungle sores, rotting feet, ringworm and dysentery. Buna proved to be one of the most desperate and brutal campaigns of the war.

The division was instrumental in re-taking the Philippines – living up to its nickname earned the First World War – “Les Terribles.”

Even though the war ended with VJ Day, the 32nd remained in Japan as an occupying force until 1946, when it was finally inactivated and sent home to Wisconsin and Michigan.


Approximately 95 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 950th Engineer Company will deploy to Afghanistan this fall.

The Superior, Wisconsin-based unit specializes in route clearance and combating threats posed by improvised explosive devices. The 950th also has a detachment in Spooner, Wisconsin.



August is Antiterrorism Awareness Month, and Staff Sgt. Joseph Rasmussen is a DMA Section Marshal assigned as a human resources sergeant with the Wisconsin Army National Guard in Madison, Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs trains section marshals from each tenant office in order to reinforce emergency action planning and to assist supervisors in executing emergency action plans and accountability procedures.

While training near Boston in June, I was able to visit some of the sites that were cradle to our great nation. As a Guardsman, it definitely hit home standing near Concord Bridge, next to the Minuteman statue where “once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.” I was, unfortunately, also reminded of a darker and more disconcerting side of Boston’s recent history. While on a run one evening, I passed by the federal facility where the man suspected of killing three and injuring more than 160 at the Boston Marathon is being held until he faces trial.

All of my Boston experiences were reminders to me of the expectations that are upon each and every one of us in the National Guard—civilians and service members alike. We are expected to be minute-men and –women, prepared and willing to act and respond on a moment’s notice—whether we’re fighting tyranny, inclement weather, homegrown violent extremism, a train derailment, or acts of terrorism from abroad.

It’s easy to think that terror attacks would never strike our Wisconsin communities, but it has before (like at UW-Madison’s Sterling Hall), and we cannot afford to be blissfully ignorant to the threats that are out there.

Terrorists specifically target civilians in hopes of inspiring fear and chaos in our everyday lives.

When we acknowledge that the practice of targeting civilians is out there, the proactive question then becomes: How can we prepare against terrorism?

Any athlete will tell us that to be successful we must practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more – until it becomes muscle memory. In our profession, it is sometimes hard to know what to practice for, but success stories from after action reviews in the aftermaths of tragedies around the world show that it is surprisingly simple: Know your surroundings, know antiterrorism strategies, evacuation procedures, emergency protocols, and know the tools you have at-hand.

At work, will your chair break through that window if you need to evacuate your office? Where is the nearest fire extinguisher? How about the automated external defibrillators?

When travelling, pay attention to your surroundings and give some thought to how you can protect yourself. Think about which floor you book your hotel room and keep an eye on your luggage or report suspicious luggage or activities.

Even at home, there are simple security measures that you can implement that might keep your family safe. We are also vulnerable to cyber threats, so ensure you take measures to protect your computer systems.

For more information and tips about how to prepare and protect yourself and your family from potential emergencies, visit https://readywisconsin.wi.gov




Aug. 7 marks the annual observance of Purple Heart Day. In Wisconsin, the governor annually proclaims the day and urges the state’s citizens to display the American flag as a “public expression of the recognition of those individuals who have been wounded or killed in action preserving the freedoms that all United States citizens cherish.”

The Purple Heart is the world’s oldest military medal still in use today. Its genesis dates back to General George Washington and the American Revolution, when Washington created the Badge of Military Merit on August 7, 1782.

The original award was forgotten for nearly 150 years after the Revolution, until its rediscovery and reintroduction in1932 on the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth. The medal was reborn as the Purple Heart. The original badge created by Washington was the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk worn over a Soldier’s left breast.

Redesigned for its re-introduction, the modern Purple Heart includes a bust of Washington at its center, with the coat of arms for Washington’s family on top. The words “For Military Merit” are inscribed on the back of the medal.

The medal is awarded on behalf of the president to any member of the Armed Forces who was wounded or killed in action, died as a result of being wounded in battle, or any service member wounded or killed by friendly fire or in acts of terrorism.

As such, the Purple Heart is one of the most recognized and respected medals awarded to members of the U.S. military.

While each story that led to a Purple Heart is different, each recipient is deserving of the love and thanks of a grateful nation. So on this Purple Heart Day, join your fellow citizens and display Old Glory as a “public expression of the recognition of those individuals who have been wounded or killed in action preserving the freedoms that all United States citizens cherish.”


Thirteen Soldiers and one Airman from the Wisconsin National Guard earned the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency during testing held at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, earlier this year.



Hello from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Detachment 52 of the Operational Support Airlift Command stationed here in Afghanistan.

As the commander of this unit I have had the honor to work with true professionals. As a small unit of six warrant officers and one noncommissioned officer, we bring with us a large amount of aviation experience. We are a small part of a joint task force here at Bagram Air Base and are providing support piloting a C-26 operation for distinguished visitors.

Being part of a larger task force only emphasizes how lucky and proud I am to command a unit with the wealth of experience that Detachment 52 brings to the table. Our daily operations include flying critical military and civilian personnel around Afghanistan. This includes personnel from more than 48 different countries.

The flying can be challenging because Afghanistan is an austere environment at best. The combination of terrain, mountain weather, and the high elevation airfields make every mission unique no matter how many times you go to the same destination.

A short flight here in the country can take you from mountains to desert and just about everything in-between. The landscape here is beautiful in the most rugged sense of the word.

The other interesting thing about flying over Afghanistan is the distribution of the population. No matter what type of terrain you fly over you will see small settlements dotted all over the country. You will see small settlements with mountains and deserts in all directions for 100 miles with no road in site. These are definitely some hearty people here in Afghanistan. We are having a good time executing our mission, but we are eager to get home.

I would like to thank my Soldiers, each of whom have contributed immeasurably to our success. I would also like to recognize our families whose packages, emails and calls keep our spirits high so far away from home. We look forward to seeing them soon.


A tiny rope, less than an inch in circumference, holds his entire 250-pound body. Keeping the rope in his right hand, he moves it away from his body and quickly pushes off the wall using his feet. The slack allows him to jump a story and a half down the wall. When he's ready to stop, he pulls the rope back behind his body and with little effort comes to a stop. Before long, he makes a few quick maneuvers back and forth with the rope. When he is comfortable, he completely lets go.

Pilots and support personnel from the 115th Fighter Wing relocated to Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, for the month of July.



It’s funny to think of a pay stub as a birth certificate, but when the Continental Congress established the monthly pay — $20, what a value! — for Continental Army chaplains on July 29, 1775, they established what would become the Army Chaplain Corps.

The marriage of ministry and military goes back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The term “chaplain” hails back to Martin of Tours, a fourth-century Roman soldier who gave part of his military cloak to a shivering beggar. That night he had a vision of Christ dressed in that cloak. Martin converted to Christianity, dedicated his life to the church and was canonized after his death. His cloak — “cappa” in Latin — was valued as a powerful religious symbol by Frankish kings. It was carried in a case called a “capella,” and the priest in charge of the cloak was called a “cappellanus.” Eventually, all clergy affiliated with the military became known as “capellini,” which in French became “chapelains.”

Chaplains in today’s U.S. military are noncombatants, but that is a fairly recent development. The Council of Ratisbon in 742 A.D. authorized chaplains to minister to armies, but prohibited chaplains from bearing arms or fighting. However, Bishop Odo (Battle of Hastings, 1066) and John Capistrano (Battle of Belgrade, 1456) are two notable examples of clergy who fought for the faith.

Chaplains in colonial America frequently fought alongside the militia to whom they ministered. During the Revolutionary War, it was not uncommon for ministers to raise — and sometimes lead — military units from their own congregations. Traditionally, however, clergy were consigned to the “Alarm List” or last third of militia units reserved for the old, the poor, judges and clergy.

American military chaplains transitioned away from combat into other roles after the Revolutionary War. Chaplains assigned to regular Army outposts in the 19th century also served as librarians and schoolmasters. During the Mexican Expedition of 1916, chaplains began providing Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) functions — stationary and envelopes for letter-writing, tents for reading, letter writing and games, movies and local tours. These efforts were more than mere hospitality — bored troops put themselves at risk of contracting venereal diseases by visiting prostitutes. Chaplains began offering sex education programs, and a National Guard chaplain — James Naismith of the 1st Kansas Infantry Regiment — also organized athletic competitions for Soldiers to work off pent-up energy.

In World War I, chaplains conducted worship services wherever they could — in mess tents, trenches and forests. They worked alongside surgeons, ambulance crews and litter bearers. Chaplains would collect the dead, conduct burials and perform grave registration duties. They visited the sick and wounded, and wrote sympathy letters to the next of kin. They served as unit postal officers and also screened outgoing mail for sensitive military information. They often filled the role of unit historian, librarian, post exchange officers, mess officers, defense counsels, regimental statistical officers, education officers, couriers, rifle range scorers, and citizenship training officers for foreign troops seeking naturalization.

Today, chaplains continue to provide a vital service to the Army. In addition to providing religious support to troops and ensuring all Soldiers can freely exercise their religion, we offer counseling to service members regardless of faith tradition — or no faith tradition. We are part of the support network for service members who have been sexually assaulted. We offer Strong Bonds programs to help service members learn better ways to begin relationships and to maintain their marriages. We provide ethical and moral guidance. We advise commanders on the morale and well-being of the troops in their charge. In short, we nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the fallen.

Over the past 239 years, more than 25,000 Army chaplains have served alongside Soldiers in more than 270 military engagements. Nearly 300 Army chaplains have died while doing so, and eight have received the Medal of Honor. Today, more than 3,000 chaplains represent more than 140 different religious organizations across the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard.

George Washington recognized the inherent value of chaplains during the French and Indian War of 1754-63. We continue to provide that value today, and consider it a blessing to do so.


The Wisconsin National Guard's 54th Civil Support Team (CST) is lending a helping hand to the state's top hazardous materials (hazmat) teams as they work to validate their skills and equipment to be ready to respond to the most serious chemical spills and events that could occur in Wisconsin.

Air crews from the Wisconsin Army National Guard played an important role in the 2014 Patriot Exercise held July 21-24 at Volk Field, Wisconsin.



A war that claimed the lives of more than 50,000 Americans as well as millions of Koreans and Chinese came to an end 61 years ago today.

The conflict left North and South Korea divided at the 38th Parallel, where the two nations remain in a de facto state of war to this day as thousands of troops – including more than 30,000 Americans – line both sides of the demilitarized zone.

The Korean War is often called “The Forgotten War,” but that should never be the case. Though the war ended in stalemate, when the armistice was signed on July 27, 1953, it marked the conclusion of another period of noble and heroic service for the U.S. military.

Among the returning veterans were Airmen from the newly formed Wisconsin Air National Guard, born only three years before the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1947.

The story of the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s call-up during the Korean War begins with the formation of the 126th Fighter Squadron, the 126th Utility Flight, Weather Station, the 128th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, and Detachment A, 228th Service Group, all of which were based out of Milwaukee.

At the time, the fighter group was made up of P-51 Mustangs – the same aircraft that proved so vital to the American war effort in World War II. Eventually, the Wisconsin Air National Guard had 22 of the aircraft and another unit – the 176th Fighter Squadron in Madison. Soon the fighter groups would be reorganized into the 128th Fighter Wing and switch to the F-80 “Shooting Star.”

After North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, the newly minted Wisconsin Air National Guard was thrust into a 21-month tour in support of the operation, as the 128th Fighter Wing and the 128th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron were federalized. About 14 months into the 128th’s call-up, it converted to the F-89A “Scorpion.”

Pilots from the 128th Fighter Group were sent to Korea, while others served stateside at places like Truax Field in Madison. The 128th Fighter Wing and the 128th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron remained on active duty in federal status until December 1952 and June 1953, respectively.

One of the pilots sent to Korea was 1st Lt. Jerome Volk, who was sent on a strafing mission against communist Chinese forces in North Korea on the afternoon of Nov. 7, 1951. About two hours after departing the U.S. Air Force Base at Suwon, South Korea, Volk reported that his fuel tanks were not working properly and that he would return for repairs. Shortly thereafter, the napalm bomb on his right wing was damaged, spraying napalm everywhere. Eventually, the entire tail section of his F-80 Shooting Star came off, sending it toward the earth at 200 mph.

Volk became the first Wisconsin Air National Guard pilot killed in combat.

Today, the legacy of those early Wisconsin Air Guardsmen lives on in the Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing, the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing, and the 128th Air Control Squadron at Volk Field in Camp Douglas, where the base bears the name of the first Wisconsin Airmen killed in combat.


What do John Philip Sousa, Van Halen, George Strait and Duke Ellington have in common?

FORT McCOY, Wis. ó When the food service section of the 132nd Brigade Support Battalion's Headquarters Company served chow to about 100 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers July 12, it also served notice of its intent to advance in the Philip A. Connelly Awards Program food service competition.

“I was terrified,” 16-year-old Julliana Barlow of Marshall, Wisconsin, said, as she described her feeling as she climbed the stairs to the top of the rappel tower.

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Army National Guard will vacate two armories under a plan to reorganize its units and consolidate operations.

When the Army officially established the warrant officer corps 96 years ago, its original members were billed as subject matter experts in their particular crafts. The role of the warrant officer in the military actually traces its lineage back to early naval history, when boatswains served as the continuity aboard ships when captains moved on to new assignments. The boatswains knew the ship inside and out as well as its limits, capabilities and what it took to run the ship, which allowed for seamless transitions when new captains took the helm.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard's Headquarters Company, 257th Brigade Support Battalion was named the reserve component food service section runner-up in the Department of the Army Philip A. Connelly Awards Program.



Two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, representatives of the 13 American colonies of Great Britain put pen to paper in a bold declaration of their intent to pursue self-rule. While that right of self-determination would not be realized for another seven years, we recognize July 4 — the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by members of the Continental Congress — as our nation’s birthday.

The immensity of that declaration may not be fully appreciated today, as our nation has largely enjoyed the unalienable rights laid out by Thomas Jefferson — including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — for more than 200 years. But at that time, demanding emancipation from the world’s greatest political and military power was not an act lightly considered. The governing powers in Great Britain certainly were not inclined to oblige such an audacious request, and many colonists were reluctant — if not outright opposed — to cut ties with the mother country.

The declaration, therefore, was written not just for the king of England, not just for the members of British Parliament, and not just for the American colonists — it was written for a global audience. In a very real sense, our nation’s founding fathers were making their case before “the opinions of mankind” — in effect, serving an indictment on the crown.

And the global audience at the time was much like Great Britain. While England’s Parliament overthrew the monarchy there in 1649, by 1660 the crown was restored. The French government which allied itself to the American colonists was itself a monarchy that would be overthrown by its citizens later in the 18th century. Kings and emperors ruled the world at the very time America declared it was done with kings and emperors. That was a bold statement of independence.

As impressive a document as the Declaration of Independence has proven to be, and regardless of the weight or consequence of the 56 signatures affixed to that declaration, it would take more than words on paper to alter the course of history. That task had already fallen to the Minute Men, to the colonial militia — some of whom might have previously served alongside British Redcoats defending the colonies in skirmishes with Native Americans or the French. While many militiamen would form the Continental Army as a professional force to tilt against the powerful British Army, others would remain in local militia units, on guard against any threat.

One of the complaints lodged against the British in the Declaration of Independence was England’s practice of maintaining a standing army in the colonies, even in times of peace. The British army was essentially immune to colonial civil authority, and colonists were frequently ordered to provide food and lodging to British soldiers, without compensation. Once America had won her independence, her Army was greatly reduced. The role of defense largely returned to the local militias — the forerunners of today’s National Guard. This practice of building up the military and drawing it down again would continue for scores of years, until the United States’ responsibilities as a world power required maintaining a sizable standing military.

Much of today’s military is effectively hidden from public view, living and training on military reservations across the country. Members of the National Guard, however, continue to live and work in cities and towns in every state and territory, maintaining a vital connection between the citizen and the military. Unlike the Redcoats who were unwelcome boarders during colonial days, the men and women of the National Guard are neighbors, friends and coworkers.

The freedom sought in the Declaration of Independence, won in eight years of fighting the strongest nation on earth, and maintained in conflicts ever since, was the right of self-determination. Our nation’s dedication to equality is expressed in the Armed Forces, as the military continues to provide new opportunities and repeal old barriers for those determined to serve their country. We share the cloth of our nation’s uniform in this sense.

American democracy began as a noble experiment that endured and continues to be improved because of people committed to the idea of liberty. In the same way, the U.S. military — and the National Guard in particular — endures and improves because of the dedication, sacrifice and innovation of its members. And so long as that spirit lives in our hearts, then the stars and stripes will continue to fly over the land of the free and the home of the brave.


CAMP PERRY, Ohio - One of the best rifle marksmen in the National Guard hails from Wisconsin.



As a director of psychological health and a Soldier who has deployed several times, I have reflected on the behavioral health issues that confront Soldiers at all levels of service, especially in view of the publicity this has gotten in the past few years.

Many civilians seem to think that the majority of service members have, or are subject to, behavioral health disorders — of which the most likely candidate is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is also an opinion that if you have a disorder such as PTSD, you have a serious medical illness which will lead to continuously degrading capabilities, relationships and career achievement.

This is not true or even close to the truth as regards to behavioral health issues or PTSD for Soldiers, most of which recover and lead highly successful lives.

Where the Army specifically — but also the services in general, particularly with ongoing treatment through the VA — differs from the civilian community in meeting the challenge of behavioral health needs is that the U.S. military has tried, with increasing success, to actively address these issues. This has led to the transparency of behavioral health issues both in terms of incidence and treatment to everyone as the Army tries to decipher and measure the problem.

Essentially, the Army — in a broad-reaching effort to normalize stress reactions and increase its cultural competency in addressing them — has put itself under a microscope.

I started in developing behavioral health, or combat operational stress, services in the ’70s, shortly after the end of the Vietnam War — and at that time both, the level of resources and treatment of behavioral health issues in the Army were minimal to say the least. I was involved in developing effective battlefield treatment strategies both in working with the schoolhouse at Fort Sam Houston and in operationalizing methodology during many exercises and while deployed during Operation Desert Storm.

Such services were often marginalized or discounted as being unnecessary in the Army’s inventory of deployable units and services. Fortunately, a few very committed advocates were able to maintain them.

Slowly the recognition of the value of such services grew, as the recognition of the effectiveness and humanization of treating behavioral health issues in the Army increased through the years. The corresponding issue of TBI recognition grew with the advent of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as a higher level understanding of the effectiveness of behavioral health treatment in maintaining the fighting strength on the battlefield.

Concurrent with OIF/OEF, the Army launched a campaign with the advent of Battle Mind training — now replaced by the more useful and functional Resiliency Training — to help Soldiers understand that the emotional reactions they are experiencing are in fact often normal reactions to abnormal experiences or stimuli. The Army has developed far-reaching and effective programs to deal with the ever-concerning issues of suicide.

During most of my career I was a reserve Soldier, working in the civilian sector and providing, supervising and managing behavioral health services. Never in my civilian career have I seen the organizational commitment, along with the financial commitment, to address behavioral health issues that the Army has displayed over the last decade. The cultural change of the Army over that period — and it is still in transition — is dramatic.

We now understand that Soldiers who may have such issues are fully capable of performing their mission once they gain an ability to manage their affliction. In fact, they may be stronger in their performance than before — and an effective mentor to help others undergoing such issues to understand and get assistance to manage their distress.

While headlines focus on problems facing “broken Soldiers,” the military’s effort to deal with, normalize and overcome those behavioral health issues gets scant attention. My belief is that, thanks to those efforts, we have a more self-aware, less stigmatized and effective force than we have ever had.

Can we make improvements, especially in our understanding and effective treatment of behavioral health and stress issues? Of course. Having said that, I believe the Army at this moment is well positioned to effectively respond to a Soldier experiencing such issues.


Construction engineers with Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion (BSTB) transformed a barren training area into a working forward operating base (FOB) during training on Fort McCoy's North Post.

HARTFORD, Wisconsin - Soldiers with the Wisconsin Army National Guard transported an M60A3 tank from in front of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Hartford, to its new home in Woodruff, Wisconsin, as part of a training exercise June 16.

MAUSTON, Wisconsin - The 32nd class of the Wisconsin National Guard's Challenge Academy celebrated their graduation at Mauston High School here June 12.

The 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team welcomed new commander Col. Mike Rand during a change-of-command ceremony conducted at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, June 12. Rand and outgoing commander Col. Tim Lawson shared words of encouragement and thanks, while speaking of furthering the storied legacy of the 32nd Brigade.



Today marks the Army’s 239th birthday. On June 14, 1775, more than a year before our nation declared its independence from Great Britain, the Continental Congress established the Continental Army and began a rich heritage of defending this country.

The National Guard traces its lineage back to 1636 and the original colonial militias, but the Army’s birthday marks a distinctly American beginning to our armed forces.

Two hundred thirty-nine years later, the Army continues to serve with the same distinction and purpose for which it was originally founded – ensuring the nation’s freedom from tyranny, oppression and fear and ensuring liberty for our citizens.

We’ve come a long way as a nation since 1775 – securing our independence from the British crown, keeping the nation together during the dark days of the Civil War and protecting American borders and frontiers. The Army was the backbone of victories in the 20th century’s two world wars, and it served valiantly in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East.

The National Guard is the Army’s primary combat reserve and has been a key component of the Army’s success and heritage over these 239 years of service to our country. It was minutemen who fired “the shot heard ‘round the world” at Lexington during the American Revolution, and it was state militiamen who answered the call to form the Union Army in the Civil War.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard has shared this heritage since 1848 when Wisconsin became a state.

The vaunted Iron Brigade was made up largely of Wisconsin’s volunteer infantry regiments, and the state would ultimately send 91,000 men to fight for the Union. That figure represented almost 12 percent of the state’s total population at the time.

Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers were there in France during World War I, when the 32nd Division earned its nickname, “Les Terribles” and pierced every German line it faced.

The National Guard was once again critical to the Army’s efforts in World War II, when units from around the country mobilized into federal service to fight wars in Europe and the Pacific. The Red Arrow again did its part and spent more days in combat than any other American division, as it fought through the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines.

Today the National Guard continues to serve nobly in the wake of September 11, 2001. In Wisconsin, every Army Guard unit, and more than 13,000 Guardsmen have deployed in support of operations in the Global War on Terror. The National Guard was instrumental in allowing the Army to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously.

There is no substitute for land power when defending our nation. Our Army is exceptional and we are proud to share this rich heritage. Today’s Army National Guard is a national treasure, and remain “Always Ready, Always There.”


During the Second World War, Soldiers from the National Guardís 32nd Division landed in Australia to begin a combat campaign that took them from the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines to Japan.

The U.S. Army announced June 5 the winners of its chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear competition for 2014.

The 426th Regiment Regional Training Institute (RTI) welcomed its new commandant during a Change of Responsibility ceremony June 7 at the Wisconsin Military Academy (WMA) at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.



On June 6, 1944 – now 70 years ago – more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along the heavily defended French coastline at Normandy. They landed at beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – and more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers lost their lives wrestling a toehold on the European mainland away from the grips of Nazi power.

“The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you,” General Dwight D. Eisenhower said in a message to his troops shortly before what would become the largest amphibious landing in military history. “In company with our brave Allies and brothers in arms on other fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.”

We owe everything that we have in this country to the brave men who stormed those beaches on D-Day 70 years ago and to all those that went before us to ensure the survival of liberty here and around the globe.

The Soldiers who fought and died on those beaches that fateful day in 1944 carried with them a sense of pride and duty bigger than oneself. They understood that freedom is not and never will be free. It must be protected by patriots willing to lay down their lives in its defense.

That’s as true today as it was 70 years ago. We see it every day in the men and women of the Wisconsin National Guard, who like their forefathers before them, volunteered to serve their country in its hours of need knowing full well that they could be sent into harm’s way at any moment. They too carry with them that same sense of duty and patriotism that prompted previous generations of Americans to stand up and say, “send me,” when their country asked.

Let us never forget the price of freedom or those who laid down their lives defending it. And let us never forget the sacrifices borne by so many on June 6, 1944, and in every other conflict before or since.


When Pvt. Rylie Denson graduates from Poynette High School this weekend, she will take the next step toward her future in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing Fire Emergency Services worked alongside their civilian colleagues from neighboring fire departments during a full-scale exercise at the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wisconsin June 3.

Brig. Gen. Ken Koon knows a thing or two about having National Guard units ready to deploy.

MADISON, Wis. - Though they hope to never have to use these skills, Airmen from across the 115th Fighter Wing recently completed certification that allows them to decontaminate, triage, stabilize and prepare to transport up to 100 people in the event of chemical, biological or radiological contamination on base.

After an unintended break due to sequestration, the Wisconsin Air National Guard's STARBASE Wisconsin program has resumed operations in Milwaukee.

MADISON, Wis. - It was standing room only. All eyes were on the man in the front. He stood tall and proud at attention - hands cupped into a tight fist, arms straight and tight against his sides.



Memorial Day is often welcomed as the unofficial start to summer. Furniture stores and car dealerships hold Memorial Day sales, people attend parties and picnics and enjoy a day off of work. Too often though, the real meaning of the holiday is forgotten.

It’s a day of solemn remembrance in which we pause and reflect upon the sacrifices borne by so many before us. Those sacrifices, after all, are what allow us the freedom to enjoy the parties and picnics and blowout sales — our way of life. It’s a day to pay tribute to those that made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf so that we may live in freedom and enjoy the prosperity that they won.

Wisconsin has paid dearly for that freedom. Since attaining statehood in 1848, Wisconsin has sent more than 775,000 of its sons and daughters to war. Thousands more served in peace time, and more than 24,000 made the ultimate sacrifice.

Of the 91,000 who served in the Civil War, more than 12,000 — some 13 percent — were killed in action or died of wounds or disease. More than 2,000 died in World War I, and another 8,000 died in World War II. The Badger State lost 700 in Korea and 1,200 in Vietnam. The state has lost 124 in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

Our Wisconsin National Guard has lost 10 Guardsmen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today is about honoring these heroic warriors — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.

We’ll never be able to replace them. But we can honor them by living lives worthy of their sacrifice and by taking a moment, or a day, or a lifetime remembering their willingness to lay down their lives in defense of our country.

Please take a moment this Memorial Day to remember the sacrifices of our fallen.


Even though the 4 a.m. phone call was part of an unannounced training exercise, the Wisconsin National Guard's 54th Civil Support Team (CST) responded as if the threat was real.

MADISON, Wis. - With seven collective strokes of a pen, the Wisconsin National Guard's Diversity Strategic Plan took effect during a May 20 ceremony in Witmer Hall at the state Department of Military Affairs.

Almost five years ago, near midnight, on Oct. 1, 2009, Sgt. Ryan Adams and his fellow Soldiers were conducting a convoy mission in Logar Province, Afghanistan. As they pushed on, through the blackness of night, two unidentified men were spotted on a hill near the route where the convoy was headed. As they monitored the bystanders, one of them lit up a cigarette. Immediately after that, the lead vehicle was hit with a rocket propelled grenade.

OSHKOSH, Wis. - Members of the Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Emergency Management tested their mobile communications skills during the State Interoperable Mobile Communications (SIMCOM) Exercise in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, May 15. This was the first time the annual exercise was held in Northeast Wisconsin.

Two Wisconsin Army National Guard units on the verge of deploying to Afghanistan received a visit from their senior leaders as they trained at Fort Bliss, Texas, this week.

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Despite a determined effort, neither of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's two Soldiers will advance beyond the Region IV Best Warrior Competition to the National Guard Bureau's competition this year.

VOLK FIELD, Wis. - The large room was filled with rank. Airmen from around the country ranging from chief master sergeant through lieutenant general were in attendance at the 2014 Air National Guard Executive Safety Summit, held May 11-14 at Volk Field Air National Guard Base.

MADISON, Wis. - Members of the Leinenkugel brewing family visited the 115th Fighter Wing May 3.

Despite an extremely cold winter endured by 10 Wisconsin Army and Air Guard members during their train-up for the 2014 Lincoln National Guard Marathon, the team set a state record in making this year's All Guard Marathon Team, May 4.

The Wisconsin National Guard was part of an emergency preparedness exercise May 2-3 with the city of Portage, Columbia County Emergency Management and Divine Savior Hospital, testing their disaster response capabilities.

Retired Col. Michael Fonger of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, retired Col. Michael Williams of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, and 1st Sgt. Gregory Fulton of Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin were inducted into the Wisconsin Army National Guard Hall of Honor during a May 3 ceremony in Madison, Wisconsin.



The month of May is set aside to honor our veterans and the Armed Forces. While our service members protect our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, each uniformed service member has a family that embarks on this selfless journey of service and sacrifice as well. Each year, the Friday before Mother’s Day is declared “Military Spouse Appreciation Day.”

Military spouses in the Wisconsin National Guard graciously share their husbands or wives with both their local communities and the nation. In a time of local, state, or national distress, military spouses can suddenly become the heads of the household. Without missing a beat, they also step up and support their Soldier or Airman and serve as family readiness group volunteers. They instantly become responsible for paying the bills, maintaining their homes and supporting their spouse and children.

The contributions and sacrifices of a military spouse rarely go unnoticed by their husband or wife in the service. But since their service is silent, they often go unacknowledged by the general public.

Remembering on May 9 and every day of the year that military spouses serve as well is only a small token of the gratitude that these silent heroes truly deserve.

On Military Spouse Appreciation Day and each day forward throughout the year, please take a few moments to acknowledge not only our men and women in uniform but their families as well. The price for freedom is a burden carried on the shoulders of military families, but the load is lightened when we, as a nation, embrace our heroes both in uniform and those who silently serve and support them back home.


VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Recruiters from across the nation joined together for training at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, April 27-May 2.

The Wisconsin Army National Guardís Recruiting and Retention Battalion officially joined the mobile application world as it launched its new mobile app May 2.

VOLK FIELD, Wis. - A group of Wisconsin Air National Guardsmen graduated April 24 from the inaugural State Enlisted Development Program at Volk Field Air National Guard Base.

A new program launched earlier this month can help Wisconsin residents ó including veterans and service members ó receive commercial driver's licenses and guaranteed placement in the trucking industry.

MILWAUKEE - For Ken Sweet, 92, the beginning of the Wisconsin Air National Guard can be traced to lofty dreams in a low time.

ARLINGTON, Va. - Service members, including Air Force Maj. Jason Park, chief of safety with the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Refueling Wing, from across the different military branches of service recently had the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Senate Youth Program in the District of Columbia.

"Ladies and gentlemen, in second place, Team 32 - Capt. Robert Killian, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, Colorado Army National Guard, and 1st Lt. Nicholas Plocar, 127th Infantry, Wisconsin Army National Guard."

The Wisconsin National Guard continues to take the fight against sexual assault of its military members seriously.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. - After battling rainy conditions, the Wisconsin Army National Guard wrapped up its three-day Best Warrior Competition Sunday.

Most people strive to make a name for themselves and show they are an individual - not just like anyone you would see walking down the street. This can sometimes be a challenging concept to overcome, especially when you come from a military family.

Four mentally and physically grueling days proved to be a challenge for Spc. Micah Lancaster, but through it all he came out with a smile on his face.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. - At 5 a.m. today (April 11), 15 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers representing units across the state began their day with push-ups, sit-ups and a two-mile run - the first three events in a demanding three-day gauntlet that will test their abilities in marksmanship, physical fitness and endurance, land navigation, Soldiers skills and military bearing. The grueling schedule will also test each competitor's composure.

Ten years ago on the night of April 9, 2004, Spc. Michelle Witmer and her sister, Rachel headed out on a patrol through Baghdad. Members of different squads within the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 32nd Military Police Company, Rachel's vehicle turned one direction, and Michelle's headed another.



This year marks the 40th anniversary of Volunteer Appreciation Week. Each year, a week is set aside in April to recognize, to be inspired, and to be encouraged by the dedicated efforts of volunteers.

April 6-12 is Volunteer Appreciation Week. The Wisconsin National Guard’s Service Member Support Division has more than 500 innovative, imaginative and creative volunteers that support military families through family readiness groups and the Employer Support of Guard and Reserve program. These volunteers sponsor new families to our units, communicate critical and time sensitive information with military families, advocate on behalf of military families within our communities and encourage employers to employ and retain our highly skilled service members in their organizations.

Not a day goes by that I am not inspired and deeply touched by the caring spirit and selfless devotion of our volunteers.

Volunteering is often a thankless job. Yet, without our volunteers, we are not as strong. Our volunteers support and brace the organizational structure of the Wisconsin National Guard. Working tirelessly with service members, family members, communities and employers, our volunteers rise up to the challenge of strengthening unit readiness by shoring up the support networks within our families and communities.

Gandhi said, “Service to others is the rent that you pay for your room on earth.”

I truly believe that over the last decade that I have worked with volunteers providing support to the military, that our volunteers have paid for their room on earth and the rooms of many others as well.

Please take a few minutes out of your day to thank the volunteers in our family support group or the volunteers serving in the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve working diligently behind the scenes to support you and your family. Our volunteers really do make a difference. A strong family equals a strong Guard.

If you or someone you know would like to become a volunteer for the Service Member Support Division, please contact us at 1-800-292-9464, option 3.


VOLK FIELD, Wis. - Six units from four states combined their emergency management skills during a field training exercise at Volk Field, April 2-6.

A second Wisconsin Army National Guard high mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) battery departed for Fort Bliss, Texas, en route to conducting a fire support mission in Afghanistan.

As 8,000 screaming fans filed into Miller Park Wednesday morning, they could see the Milwaukee Brewers Famous Racing Sausages on the field, smell the fresh green grass and hear the music pulsing through the stadium. But these were no ordinary fans - they were all students and teachers from southeastern Wisconsin attending Weather Day at Miller Park.



April is the “Month of the Military Child.” This month is a time to honor youth affiliated with the military. These silent heroes that stand behind our men and women in uniform make sacrifices every time their loved one deploys or leaves for training.

This year military leadership chose the theme “Young Lives, BIG Stories”. How appropriate! After nine years of working with military youth in Wisconsin, I know they have stories to share. I have witnessed many of them sharing those stories with other military youth that were experiencing deployment for the first time, or were facing the return of their service member and weren’t sure how it was all going to work. It is always heartwarming to see the relief on a military child’s face when they hear from another military child that everything is going to be ok – not necessarily easy, but ok.

In conjunction with this very appropriate theme, the Army is holding a “Share Your Story” contest. This is your military child’s chance to share their story with more than just Wisconsin military youth.

The Young Lives, BIG Stories contest is open to all military children preschool through 12th grade. Youth participants will have the opportunity to tell their story on “what it means to be a military child” through photos, words, drawings or videos. The goal of this contest is to tell the military’s story through the eyes of our children. Prizes will be given to one overall winner and the top entries in each category. Please visit ARMYMWR.com/MOMC to enter and to learn more.

The 4th annual Purple Up! for Military Kids is April 15, 2014. We ask that you join us in honoring the nearly 14,000 military youth in Wisconsin on April 15 by wearing purple.

There are other ways to honor military youth, you can write letters, say “thank you” to a military kid, or hold contests at your place of employment for the section that wears the most purple on that day. If you work out of the Wisconsin National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters, there will be a display table in the lobby with purple ribbons for you to wear beginning April 15.

Finally, if you have a military child in your life, and you want to say “thank you”, you can request a Wisconsin Child and Youth Program “Youth Unsung Hero Award”. Registration forms are available on www.wisconsinmilitary.org.

On behalf of the Wisconsin National Guard Child and Youth Program, I want to thank all of the Youth Unsung Heroes in our amazing state and great nation.


The Wisconsin National Guard chose the first day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month to formally introduce Falcon, a certified service dog trained to interact with physical and sexual trauma victims who has been assigned to the Wisconsin National Guard's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) team.

VALDEZ, Alaska - A communications team from the Wisconsin National Guard's 128th Air Control Squadron, in conjunction with Valdez Emergency Management and National Guard units from other states, provided communications support in Valdez Saturday. The team set up a Joint Incident Site Communications Capability at the Alaska National Guard Armory in Valdez and provided communications support to the local emergency operations center and other National Guard units.



Editor’s note: March is Women’s History Month, and as its observance draws to a close, Capt. Peter Owen, the commander of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 273rd Engineer Company, and the State Equal Employment Manager, offered his perspectives.

Serving as the Commander of the 273rd Engineer Company (Wheeled Sapper), an all-male and combat arms organization, has been the greatest experience in my military career. What distinguishes this above all else is the opportunity to work with top-notch personnel within the unit and at the next higher levels of command. Each of the battalion and brigade commanders I’ve worked for has been outstanding and gone beyond their duty description to improve the organization.

What does commanding an all-male company have to do with Women’s History Month? EVERYTHING – when you consider that one of my battalion commanders and two of my brigade commanders have been female.

In retrospect, what I believe is the best testament to the quality of their leadership is the fact that it never occurred to me that it might be rare that the battalion and brigade commanders for an all-male company are females. In fact, it was not until the occasion of Women’s History Month that I paid specific attention to the fact that my commanders and mentors have been female.

It is always difficult to proclaim that an event such as an all-male unit being commanded by females at the next two higher levels is a “first” considering the size and complexity of our organization. However, I can say that after talking to historians at both National Guard Bureau and the US Army Corps of Engineers neither were previously aware of such an occurrence.

Having worked with many women who are now both mentors and friends, I expect that females commanding similar types of units will not be an “occurrence” in the future. Instead, I expect it to be standard practice. I do not make this statement because of the pending changes to the Department of Defense and Army policy regarding females serving in combat units and previously closed military occupational specialties. I believe females will have opportunities – and excel in those opportunities – because of the abilities and traits I have personally witnessed and the trust bestowed upon them by the Wisconsin National Guard.

I have found that the qualities of the best leaders include, but are not limited to intelligence, dedication to the mission and organization (including its people), honesty, technical and tactical expertise, strategic vision, an ability to inspire and being both an innovative and adaptable thinker. While these qualities are found only in a select group of individuals, it is the qualities held by the individuals in this group and not their gender that make the group so exclusive.

From my perspective, the Wisconsin National Guard and its commissioning sources have done their job training and developing a corps of strong female officers that currently serve in Engineer, Logistics, Aviation, Medical, Military Police and Military Intelligence commands among others. In the near future we will see the success of the next generation of capable female leaders that have more opportunities in the military than ever before.


Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined families and friends of the approximately 160-person 829th Engineer Company in a formal sendoff ceremony March 28 at Fort McCoy, Wis.

Wisconsin Challenge Academy representatives will conduct an informational session Wednesday (March 26) for potential applicants to the academyís next class, which begins July 23. The event will be held at the Best Western PLUS Hotel, 5105 S Howell Ave, from 6-8 p.m.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. - More than 160 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers of the 829th Engineer Company trained here in March in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

The Wisconsin National Guard's Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) announced its 500th successful job placement at a March 19 press conference at the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs in Madison, Wis.

According to Chief Warrant Officer 5 John Freeman, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's command chief warrant officer, times - and perceptions - are changing for warrant officers.



Hi! My name is Falcon. I was born on April 23, 2011, in Colorado Springs, where I was sponsored and named in honor of the Air Force Academy. Everyone told me I was destined to be a very special dog, and so my journey began. First I flew to Palm Springs, CA where I lived with a puppy-raiser from Guide Dogs of the Desert for 18 months, and I was excited at the prospect of becoming a guide dog for a visually impaired person. However, that wasn’t to be, as my qualifying physical revealed I had elbow dysplasia. It’s not bad enough to bother me in my lifetime, but a Guide Dog has to be perfectly fit. Although I was disappointed, I learned each service dog has a special journey, and my journey was destined to take me down a different path.

I discovered Guide Dogs of the Desert partners with Custom Canines Service Dog Academy (CCSDA) in Madison, Wis. I was sent to the academy in April of 2013 where I proved my capacity to be a fantastic service dog. The trainers at Custom Canines worked with me for several months to discover what character traits were unique to me.

During my time at the academy I discovered I had a unique inner sense and passion for my human friends that were not visibly hurting or disabled from the outside, but rather battle an unstoppable war in their hearts and minds. My gift to sense and quiet my two-legged friends’ inner troubles, led me to be a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder service dog with the Wisconsin National Guard Sexual Assault and Response office.

On October 23, 2013, CCSDA placed me with my new handler, Ms. Amber Garfoot. Every day I go to work with Amber and her co-worker Capt. Robert Brania and work with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Our main office is at Wisconsin’s Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, but we spend much of our time on the road doing community outreach, outreach at armories, and working with our organization’s victims.

Over the past few months, I have spent lots of time loving on these people with matching clothes and have learned that sometimes when service members come home from war or experience trauma from a horrible event such as sexual assault, the war or event remains inside them. These service members battle themselves daily dealing with anger, lack of sleep, dreadful memories, flashbacks, and pain from what they have seen and experienced. It haunts them everywhere they walk and every time they close their eyes.

It is my job to provide these Soldiers’s comfort and to bring them to a better place. I can sense when they are experiencing anxiety and am able to calm them using the skills I have learned at CCSDA. It is my companionship and unwavering support that allows me to develop love and trust with the Service Members that I work with. I love my new Wisconsin National Guard family, and I can’t wait for Wisconsin service members, veterans and their families to discover just how much dogs like me can do! The military employs hundreds of dogs with different jobs. My K-9 veteran furry friends go everywhere, including combat zones, but I’m happy to be the first in Wisconsin and look forward to meeting you!

- Falcon

Editor’s note: K-9 Veterans Day is March 13, and while Falcon, the Wisconsin National Guard’s service dog, is not a combat veteran, he serves the veterans and service members of the Wisconsin National Guard.

Falcon is trained as a service dog to perform specific tasks for individuals with PTSD-related disabilities. Although Falcon’s presence and interaction with Service Members may be therapeutic, he is not a therapy dog. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for those they assist – typically a handler with a disability. The Wisconsin National Guard Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) team’s use of Falcon is primarily for outreach. Falcon’s presence creates an avenue for Service Members to interact with SAPR personnel, creating the opportunity for meaningful discussions about the program that might not have otherwise occurred. PTSD can be common amongst survivors of military sexual trauma, and the educational benefits of Falcon’s affiliation with the SAPR program are tremendous.


Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue, a member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing based in Madison, Wis., was named the U.S. Air Force's Military Broadcast Journalist of the Year in the 56th annual Air Force Media Contest.

A Kenosha, Wis.-based Wisconsin Army National Guard unit travelled to Milwaukee March 1 to test a new method of servicing weapons and electronics for a fellow Guard unit.

Two units from the Wisconsin Army National Guard will deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom this spring.

The U.S. Air Force announced the budget plan for fiscal year 2015 that would eliminate 39 Wisconsin Air National Guard positions beginning in October 2014.

FORT HOOD, Texas - When 65 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard leave for the Middle East in a few short weeks, they will become a key component of U.S. military operations in the region.

National Guardsmen and civilian emergency management agencies teamed up at the historic Richards Street Armory in Milwaukee Feb. 28 to discuss a notional tornado and hazardous materials response scenario.

Gov. Scott Walker and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined families and friends in sending off a small but unique unit for an important mission to Afghanistan.

ABBEVILLE, La. - For 10 straight days, National Guard Airmen from more than a dozen different units across the United States - to include the Madison, Wis.-based 115th Fighter Wing - helped Louisiana residents with their health, dental and optometry needs.

Just because the 2014 Olympics in Sochi are over doesn't mean old man winter has closed his doors to competition.



Some 11 years before Wisconsin attained statehood, its citizens began forming what would become the Wisconsin National Guard. March 5, 1837, marks the organization’s official birth date – and now in its 177th year, the Wisconsin National Guard remains true to its Citizen Soldier roots.

In 1837, Wisconsin was a backwater territory of the rapidly expanding United States. On March 5 of that year, Henry Dodge, the governor of the Territory of Wisconsin, commissioned Morgan L. Martin, of Green Bay, Wis., as a captain and the commander of the Green Bay Rangers volunteer company of mounted riflemen.

In reality, Wisconsin’s militia and National Guard developed over a period of time – not with a single government decree. Other significant dates dot the Wisconsin Guard’s historical timeline – like in 1879 when Wisconsin’s Adjutant General first referred to the state’s militia as the “National Guard.”

But Wisconsin’s Citizen Soldiers left their mark on military history long before 1879. When the Civil War began, the Union Army was made mostly of federalized state troops. The vaunted Iron Brigade, which went on to great fame in the annals of Civil War history, was made up largely of Wisconsin’s volunteer infantry.

Wisconsin ultimately sent 91,000 of its native sons to fight for the Union Army – a figure that represented almost 12 percent of the state’s total population at the time.

As they were in 1837, Wisconsin’s Citizen Soldiers remain ready to serve the people of Wisconsin and the nation. Whether they were militiamen protecting Wisconsin frontier settlements, charging through the cornfields at Antietam, piercing enemy lines in France, fighting the Japanese in New Guinea or protecting America from terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Wisconsin National Guard has been always ready and always there since its inception.

Wisconsin Soldiers and Airmen have served in the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, on the Mexican Border during the border dispute of 1916, and in France during World War I. Wisconsin’s famed Red Arrow saw more days of combat during World War II than any other American division as its Soldiers fought through the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines. During the Cold War, the Red Arrow once again mobilized during the Berlin Crisis. The Wisconsin Air National Guard served in the skies over Korea in the 1950s, and Guardsmen from the Badger State would go on to serve in Iraq in 1991 and again during the Global War on Terror.

All the while, our National Guard served simultaneously at home – responding to floods, tornadoes, forest fires and crippling snow storms. They’ve done it all while remaining members of their own communities and working as teachers, laborers and businesspeople. The Wisconsin National Guard remains the epitome of the Citizen Soldier, and likewise, it remains ready to serve the people of Wisconsin and the nation.


OAK CREEK, Wis. - Below freezing temperatures. A gentle snowfall. The hum of military generators muffled slightly by a formation of military tents.

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing will conduct training flights at night March 3 and 4. Area residents may see or hear F-16 fighter jets taking off or landing until approximately 9 p.m.

Twenty-six security forces Airman from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing, Madison, Wis., were welcomed home from a deployment to United Arab Emirates March 2 by Gov. Scott Walker, state military leadership and their families.

The Wisconsin National Guard's official publication, @ease, earned a first-place award in the National Guard Bureau Media Contest. That marks the fifth straight year the web-based publication has received top honors from National Guard judges, and the fourth consecutive first-place finish.


Editor’s note: The Wisconsin National Guard hosted former Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt for a discussion on Black History Month at Joint Force Headquarters in Madison, Wis. After the discussion, Tech. Sgt. Lee Rettmann shared his perspective and what he took from the discussion.

Walking into Witmer Hall at Wisconsin’s Joint Force Headquarters, I knew very little about Marvin Pratt and what he accomplished in life, so I was unsure what the presentation would provide.

I was interested in Mr. Pratt’s recounting of life and growing up in a time of civil unrest. His perspective seemed more as spectator, participating in only a few marches or demonstrations, but not forcibly protesting. He was not necessarily denied rights, but at times did not prosper as well as white Americans. He was in the minority, not as a race, but excelling in life.

His military enlistment resulted in a positive and promising future, which led to a commission and retirement. I like to believe that the military breaks down the walls of racism and segregation, providing the same opportunities to everyone regardless of color. I also know it has not always been true and there are still isolated pockets of racism in the Armed Forces, but my hopes are high that future generations will correct this error.

I was very pleased when the presentation included his wife, and they provided two perspectives of life in Milwaukee and more importantly how the schools functioned while they lived there. Schools contribute the most to the growth of our children, and if schools are not functioning properly in providing education and good character building, the results could be devastating. Both Mr. Pratt and his wife understood this and worked very hard to improve education. Pratt’s wife was a teacher, and the couple even ran their own school for awhile.

Schools today are still struggling for proper education. I believe it is no longer an issue of race or segregation, but more of funding.

The question was asked from the audience regarding the education of the civil rights movement to our children and the possibility of them not knowing what impact it had on our history. I had an answer to that.

I have witnessed my children growing up in a very ethnically and racially diverse school, but that is not how they see it. When they describe their classmates they tell us, “Tall, pretty, likes to play Legos, shares their lunch food, and a good friend.” When they bring home a class photo, my wife and I look at the picture of the friend they are always talking about and find they never mentioned their friend was Black, or Hispanic, or Indian.

It is my generation and past generations that make race a distinction. If our children start using that same distinction, it is because the parents are making race an issue and corrupting them. Racism is an endangered species needing extinction, and our children will be the exterminators. If they can remain uncorrupted by their parents and others, they will be better people. Segregation will become some event in history kids are taught in school – remembered, but never repeated.


Much like the ceremonial bowl of grog, proud and long-standing traditions blended together Feb. 22 for the Wisconsin Army National Guard's inaugural All Saints Celebration.

MADISON, Wis. - Air National Guard medical professionals from the 115th Fighter Wing departed Monday (Feb. 24) to participate in an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) mission called Cajun Care in Abbeville, La., Feb. 23-March 7.

CAMP WILLIAMS, Wis. - Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, and senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders joined families and friends at a formal sendoff ceremony for 65 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers Saturday (Feb. 22).

CAMP WILLIAMS, Wis. - While nothing can replace a mother or father in uniform deploying halfway across the world for up to a year, the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation is hoping a plush toy dog named "GI Josh" can soften the pains of separation.

It was a windy, snowy day - and night - for some Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers who patrolled state roadways and aided a stranded vehicle as part of the Guard's response to a strong winter storm Feb. 20-21.



To all veterans, current serving military members, family members, those who have lost loved ones in service to our nation, and in particular our Gold Star families:

The recently revealed inappropriate photos and commentary posted to a social media site by a Soldier under my command are unacceptable. I am taking this matter very seriously. Upon learning of this incident, I ordered an investigation and we will wait until that is concluded to evaluate appropriate action.

Military funeral honors are a sacred trust, and that is why this issue has generated such a public outcry. The general public is understandably upset, and I understand the anger and response that it has caused. For those of us who wear or have worn the cloth of our nation’s uniform, this story cuts like a knife. I fully understand why so many veterans have expressed outrage. Lastly, I am acutely aware of the pain that this story must have caused for our Gold Star family members.

I deeply regret the pain this has caused, and personally apologize to the entire military family.

Donald P. Dunbar

Maj Gen, Wisconsin National Guard

The Adjutant General


KEY WEST, Fla. - Airmen assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing deployed to Key West, Fla., in support of an F-16 Fighting Falcon training mission Feb. 1-14.

Gov. Scott Walker has called the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty ahead of a strong winter storm that could bring more than 12 inches of snow and freezing rain, and winds up to 50 miles per hour.

The Wisconsin National Guard became aware late Feb. 17 of controversial and distasteful photos and comments related to military funeral honors posted on social media websites.

Six Airmen hailing from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's three bases will compete against their peers from across the country for the chance to be named the 2014 Air National Guard Outstanding Airman of the Year.

Veterans, Wisconsin National Guardsmen and military spouses seeking employment got a boost Feb. 12 if they attended the Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection workshop in Brookfield, Wis.

The MK Passenger Transit Center at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania may have been merely a passing-through point for approximately 300 members of the 101st Airborne Division en route to Afghanistan Feb. 3, but it marks a significant achievement for military engineers, including the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 924th Engineer Facilities Detachment.

School children from across Wisconsin are likely familiar with the frigid temperatures this winter season - if for no other reason than the above-average amount of school cancellations and temperatures that will make even the tiniest of nostrils freeze together.

Two Airmen in the Wisconsin Air National Guard have earned top honors in the National Guard Bureau Media Contest.

Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue of the Madison, Wis.-based 115th Fighter Wing, took first place in the Television News Report category for a broadcast story he produced during a 2013 deployment about a joint health program between the United States and Uganda.

HOHENFELS, Germany - The 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, based out of Madison, Wis., left for Hohenfels, Germany, Jan. 16 to provide public affairs support during a training exercise for Soldiers preparing for a nine-month deployment to Kosovo.

The Plymouth, Wis.- based Battery B, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery of the Wisconsin Army National Guard - also known as the Bravo Barracudas - received the 2013 Hamilton Alexander Award during a Wednesday night ceremony at the National Guard Professional Education Center in North Little Rock, Ark.

The Alexander Hamilton Award recognizes the year's outstanding National Guard field artillery battery for superb mission accomplishment and overall unit excellence.

More than 200 veterans - including more than a dozen Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) participants - and approximately 70 employers were brought together Jan. 16 at the Goodwill James O. Wright Center on Milwaukee's northwest side for a recent "Hiring Our Heroes" job fair.

MILWAUKEE - If the Wisconsin Army National Guard was a major-league baseball team, it would be trying to bolster its roster by calling up hot prospects from its farm system.

With six family members currently enlisted - a father and five adult children - Shanle might become a familiar name in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

MADISON, Wis. - Soldiers are often recognized for the military awards they receive, time in service or if they were injured during combat, but on Saturday Jan 18, five Wisconsin Army National Guard members were honored for their service in civilian life.

CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. - 'Always Ready, Always There,' isn't just a catchphrase for the National Guard. It is the result of maintaining the readiness of an organization that can be called upon at a moment's notice to respond to an emergency here in Wisconsin or deploy to far-flung locales around the world.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, has been named chairman of the National Governors Association Homeland Security Advisory Council (GHSAC).

"It's a privilege to serve as Gov. Walker's Homeland Security Advisor, which complements my responsibilities commanding the Wisconsin National Guard and leading Wisconsin Emergency Management," Dunbar said. "The GHSAC is a diverse group of professionals who represent the nation's governors in the Homeland Security enterprise. I am honored to serve as the chair and to work these difficult issues alongside my colleagues in collaboration with federal and local agencies and the private sector."

A 15-Soldier engineer unit from the Wisconsin Army National Guard will lay the groundwork for troops on the last leg of their journeys to Afghanistan and other locations around the world.

The team from the Chippewa Falls, Wis.-based 924th Engineer Facilities Detachment left for Romania this week to begin site work for a new forward operating site from which planes carrying troops bound for Afghanistan will make their final stop before arriving at their destination.

MADISON, Wis. - Listen to the radio, watch a TV show or simply have a conversation with friends. Odds are the topic of weight loss will come up when New Year's resolutions are discussed.

VOLK FIELD, Wis. - More than 90 Airmen were honored as Hometown Heroes in a Jan. 4 ceremony at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) in front of their families, peers, senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders and local officials.

The sport of fishing is rife with stories of monster walleye that got away, muskies that snapped lures and lines, and perhaps the occasional exaggeration or falsehood. But one recent Wisconsin fishing tale had truth to it, though it too was unbelievable.