As Hurricane Harvey prepared to make landfall on the Texas coast, my Facebook timeline began to light up with all my battle buddies within the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National guard saying they were headed out to Galvaston/Houston/Corpus Christi areas.
Over the weekend, even more of them were called up for duty to assist their fellow Texans after the heavy rains began devastating coastal cities. The Texas Military Forces began posting photos of these courageous soldiers and airmen walking through nearly waist-deep water carrying their fellow citizens to safety.
And Monday, every other Army or Air National Guard unit in Texas not already deployed or training to deploy was called up for duty — approximately 12,000 troops.
When I transferred to active duty for my retirement, I often heard soldiers — usually some sergeant first class or a captain — disparaging members of the National Guard. Because of their beliefs, quite often I’d hear the junior soldiers refer to them as the “Nasty Guard.”
I bet they aren’t saying that now, as they watch their fellow soldiers and airmen risking their lives for fellow Americans right here at home. I deployed three times with these true American patriots, and I must say that not only are they just as professional as their active-duty counterparts, but they are so much more.
Members of the National Guard, like the Reserve forces, leave their jobs as doctors, lawyers, pastors, mechanics and even politicians to put on the uniform and serve their nation overseas. However, they also drop everything at a moment’s notice to don their uniform and serve in disaster relief operations right here at home.
If you thought prepping for rotations to Korea or deployment was rough, try worrying about whether you have a job waiting for you after you call your boss and tell him or her you won’t be in today because you were mobilized for a hurricane and you have no idea when you’ll be back to work.
It’s a different type of strain for families and employers, because you never know when your loved one or employee will just up and leave. About the only ones I can think of with a similar strain is families of special forces members.
Granted, special forces are probably called up a lot more often than the Guard — and for much more dangerous missions. But that in no way diminishes the stress these troops undergo because they chose to serve their state and nation.
To my battle buddies who are currently in harm’s way helping our fellow Texans, thank you. You are my heroes. Stay safe while you are out there ensuring others’ safety. If I weren’t retired, I’d be there with you, but know you are in my thoughts and prayers.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.