Why I Serve

Capt. Amber Cetinel

341st Military Intelligence Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Cetinel has served since 2019, joining the Guard in 2023. She left active duty "because I wanted to stabilize in Washington and continue my military career in the WAARNG while pursuing civilian interests." Cetinel says she joined the Army "because, as a Turkish-American, I feel compelled to serve in the world’s most multicultural and diverse organization. I look forward to experiencing where the WAARNG takes me!"

Sgt. Matt Choi

Charlie Company, 128th Brigade Support Battalion, Pennsylvania Army National Guard

Choi, a combat medic, joined the Guard in 2018. "I always wanted to join the military or some kind of service since I was young." He says highlights of his service include the brotherhood and variety of training and learning outside his military occupational specialty.

Airman 1st Class Giavanni D'Andrea

182d Security Forces Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard

D'Andrea joined the Guard in January 2022 and deployed to Africa in 2023. "Coming from a long lineage of military family members, being the first woman in my family to join the Air Force holds a profound significance for me. I see life as a circle, and while I've always harbored the desire to enlist, I also believe in the importance of timing. When the two aligned, I knew it was my moment."

Spc. Kacie Diaz

34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard

Diaz is a health specialist/combat medic who joined the Guard in 2021. In civilian life, she is a gymnastics coach. "I decided to join because I needed a plan for my life after high school and the National Guard offered that for me. It also offered me the chance to try out the medical field and see if it’s for me, which is an opportunity I would not have gotten in the civilian world for free. There wasn’t much holding me back other than the fear of failure, but that was also motivation to not fail."

Staff Sgt. Jason Eberly

155 Mission Support Group, Nebraska Army National Guard

Eberly has served for five years. "I come from a military family." He says highlights of his time in uniform include deployments for the presidential inauguration in 2021 and for Operation Lonestar this year, as well as the ability to serve his state and nation while staying close to home with his family.

Tech. Sgt. Cesar J. Esparza

169 Air Support Operations Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard

Esparza joined the Marine Corps in 2005 and the Air Force in 2012. In civilian life, he's an Illinois State Trooper. "As I look back on my journey from immigrant to Marine and Airman, I am filled with a profound sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunities this country has bestowed upon me, and gratitude for the camaraderie and camaraderie forged in the crucible of conflict. And though my path may have been marked by hardship and sacrifice, I wouldn't have it any other way, for it is through service that I have found my true purpose and my place in this great nation."

Staff Sgt. Maria Hollander

182nd Security Forces Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard

Hollander has served since 2019, including a deployment to Iraq. "I joined because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and fight for the freedom of the United States of America overseas and stateside." She is a full-time Security Forces member.

Sgt. 1st Class Sophanna Terrinoraline Kong

34th Infantry Division, HSC, Minnesota Army National Guard

Kong, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist, joined the Guard in 2009 and is deployed to Kuwait. "A recruiter called me one day and asked if I was interested in joining the Minnesota National Guard. I told him that he was talking to the wrong person because I was married with two children, and I considered myself too old and too out of shape to join the military. ... I have always been proud to serve since the moment I raised my right hand and swore an oath to serve this country which has been my home for most of my life. It’s the home that my parents provided for me after fleeing from the atrocities of war."

Pfc. James Ray

104th Maintenance Company, District of Columbia Army National Guard

Ray, a tactical power generator mechanic, joined the Guard in 2022. “When I got out of high school, I had scholarships to attend college – but I didn’t want to go to college. I chose the military instead.” Ray likes the connections he's made and the travel. “No day is the same and the possibilities are really endless.”

Senior Airman Breezy Rico

155 Air Refueling Wing Force Support Squadron, Nebraska Air National Guard

Rico joined the Air Guard three years ago after she heard a radio station host say his greatest regret was never having served in the military. "After always admiring and being in awe of those who have served, I finally was convinced that I could, too. ... My favorite part of serving is that even if I’m stressed out or am having a bad day, I walk down the hall and see my reflection in the glass or window and I am immediately grateful for the honor I have to be wearing the uniform and to be a part of something so important and great. I almost have to pinch myself to believe that I get to do this. Everything else seems less important."

Airman 1st Class Job Robinson

113th Wing Maintenance Squadron, District of Columbia Air National Guard

Robinson, a full-time heavy aircraft integrated avionics specialist, has served since 2021. He deployed earlier this year to the CENTCOM area of responsibility in the Middle East. "Originally, I was looking for ways to pay for school and I heard about the DC Air National Guard and the tuition assistance. But since serving, I’ve come to really enjoy my job and the people I work with and it’s something I enjoy doing full time while I complete school. I’m majoring in aeronautical sciences, and I would like to work in the aerospace industry.”

Sgt. 1st Class Maniel F. Rodriguezguzman

Headquarters 101st Troop Command, Puerto Rico Army National Guard

Rodriguezguzman, a human resources specialist, has served for almost 27 years. "I joined to take advantage of the incentives to study my bachelor’s degree. I not only finished my BA but also completed a master’s degree with no debt. I also wanted to give back to my territory and to be the best version of myself." Highlights include completing warrant officer candidate school and supporting families during Hurricane Maria.

Tech. Sgt. Christa Russo

126th Air Refueling Wing, 126th Mission Support Group, 126th Supply Chain Operations Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard

Russo, a material management craftsman, joined in 2000. "When I was 15 years old my grandfather passed away. The 21-gun salute was performed. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I felt so much pride and honor just watching it. I knew right then that I wanted the same honors at my own funeral." The highlight of her military career so far was seeing her son enlist in the Guard and working side-by-side with him.

Staff Sgt. Damon Sandle

Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, Pennsylvania Army National Guard

Sandle has served since 2007. He says he joined because "I wanted a better life." During his time in uniform, he has deployed to Iraq in 2008 and Kuwait in 2012.

Col. Joelee Sessions

182nd Air Support Operations Group, Illinois Air National Guard

Sessions, a mobility pilot/commander, is completing his 33rd year in the Air National Guard. "My brother was on the USS Eisenhower in the Persian Gulf when the Gulf War started. I was in college. I wanted to do my part. So, I joined the 172 AW as a pneudraulic systems specialist in my hometown, Brandon, MS. After I graduated from college, the unit sent me to pilot training." A highlight of his service: swearing his daughter and youngest son into his previous unit, where they are both C-17 Loadmasters. "Being able to serve in the ANG at the same time as my children is a tremendous honor."

Senior Airman Kirk Snoza

155th Air Refueling Wing, Nebraska Air National Guard

Snoza joined the military six years ago. A powered support technician, he has deployed to Qatar and Afghanistan. "I always had the desire to serve but was a father early in life and had to put the service on the back burner. At 37, my son was at an age, and my life was in order, so it made sense to finally pursue this passion." He says his time in the Middle East is the highlight of his service. "It was exciting, hard, fulfilling and hot all at the same time."

Airman 1st Class Hannah Sundararajan

Civil Engineering Squadron, 182d Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard

Sundararajan, a civil engineer assistant, has served since 2020. "I joined to travel and have a job I can always enjoy. ... I love serving home and alongside people I know. In the short time I have been in, I have met so many great people and have felt a sense of community since moving to Illinois."