Why I Serve

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Staff Sgt. Virginia Adolfson

1041st Transportation Company, Washington Army National Guard

Adolfson joined the Guard in 2006 "to keep the tradition of a person in my family from each generation to serve in the military. I also became the first woman to serve in my family." Highlights of her time in uniform include "riding in the back of Chinooks, leading Soldiers, and trying to make a difference in people's lives." She is a full-time unit supply specialist and full-time college student with plans to work at Veterans Affairs hospitals to help service members suffering from PTSD. "I love being a Citizen-Soldier, serving my community, state and country. I am also showing my three daughters that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up."

Sgt. Wesley J. Anderson

144th Army Band, Illinois National Guard

Anderson joined the Guard when he realized "this might be the best chance in my life to serve my country and make music." He loves talking to his high school students about how they can use military benefits to help themselves and learn valuable skills. "I am proud to serve in the National Guard to serve my local community in my state through my passion for music. Being able to play for deployment ceremonies, retirements, and veterans memorials helps put into perspective how important service is to our nation. Being a small part of what I think is the greatest organization in history makes me proud to put on the uniform and makes me strive to do the best I can every time I put it on."

Spc. Maciej Babinski

1439th Engineer Detachment, Michigan National Guard

Babinski, a native of Poland, joined the Guard in 2020. "I wanted to pay back this country that welcomed me with open arms and provided me with a great future." He is a firefighter and, in his civilian job, drives a fuel tanker. He is proud to wear the National Guard uniform and serve as a firefighter. "Each time I wear the uniform, I look at my U.S. flag on my right shoulder and at myself in the mirror thinking about the same person from years ago who always wanted to earn the right to wear it."

Pvt. Angel Bautista

Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment, Washington Army National Guard

Bautista joined the Guard a year ago to help his mother become a U.S. citizen faster. He says training is the highlight of his service and he is proud to wear the National Guard uniform. "I’m the first in my family to serve, so it feels good to put it on."

Maj. Sachin J. Bhalerao

Joint Forces Medical Detachment, Illinois National Guard

Bhalerao, a psychiatrist, joined the Guard in 2022 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. "It made me wonder whether there was more I could be doing to support my community and country, and I began looking to the National Guard as an option. I realized it was a perfect vehicle for what I was looking for to serve. Also, as a child of immigrants, it is important for me to repay all that America has provided for me and my family and how grateful I am to be an American."

Spc. Bhagirath Bhatt

B Company, 341st Military Intelligence Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Bhatt joined the Guard nine years ago. The highlight of his service was a humanitarian mission in Belize providing legal services and helping build and improve schools and medical clinics. "I am proud to be a Guardian because while I am able to take advantage of all the same services offered to active duty, I am also able to serve my state and local communities in various capacities. I have worked at food banks, I have supported local PD (police department), I have worked in food distribution centers and even at vaccination sites during the pandemic."

Master Sgt. Adaryll Blackwell

225th Support Squadron, Western Air Defense Sector (WADS), Washington Air National Guard

Blackwell joined the Guard in 2005. "My dad served in the Army for 20 years and we had a great family lifestyle. I enjoyed the lifestyle and wanted it for myself and future family." He says he's proud to serve his country. "I have been given the opportunity to be a part of a great unit that has the responsibility of guarding America’s skies while maintaining homeland security."

Spc. Sean Carney

119th Field Artillery Battalion, Higher Headquarters Battery, Michigan Army National Guard

Carney joined the Guard in 2019. He has deployed to the Middle East for Operation Spartan Shield and is serving in Africa as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. "I always wanted to be part of something bigger than myself and be like who I thought as a child was a definition of a true hero. ... I'm not only proud to be able to serve my country overseas but my community as well."

Spc. Heather Chacon

Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 210th Military Police Battalion, Michigan National Guard

Chacon, a chemical specialist, joined the Guard in 2020 to serve her community and strengthen her leadership, teamwork and emergency response skills. "My favorite part of serving has been meeting great people and leaders. I have made lifelong friends along the way. ... The commitment to protecting my fellow citizens and responding to emergencies is a powerful motivator."

Sgt. Jeffrey Chorn

Echo Company, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Chorn joined the military in 2007 "because it was a childhood dream of mine to serve my country." He is an ordained minister and truck driver in civilian life. "Serving in the Army National Guard is an honor and a privilege for me, as my family lineage in serving this great nation goes back to the Civil War."

Master Sgt. Erin Connelly

244th Digital Liaison Detachment, Illinois Army National Guard

Connelly has served for 20 years, starting as a paralegal, then a mortuary affairs specialist and then a logistical supply specialist. She deployed to Iraq in 2006-2007 and is headed to Kuwait in 2024. But the highlight of her military career? "Without hesitation, my favorite part has been mentoring Soldiers, especially as a TAC/instructor in the OCS program."

Spc. Isaac Davey

Echo Company, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Davey, a wheeled vehicle mechanic, joined the Guard in August. In civilian life, he is a teacher. He says the highlight of his service was the friendships he established with battle buddies in basic training. "Our state mission makes me most proud to serve in the National Guard, especially the prospect to fight wildfires and protect the people I live around."

Spc. Derrick DeFlorimonte

1569th Medium Truck Company, New York Army National Guard

DeFlorimonte, a combat medic and culinary specialist, joined the military in 2015. In civilian life, he is an emergency medical technician and community organizer. A highlight of his service is using his civilian and military training in emergencies. "To be given the unique opportunity to serve my community in a political and medical capacity and in an environment to serve those in times of a natural disaster or emergency makes me proud."

Spc. Anthony DeSalvo

204th Engineer Battalion, New York Army National Guard

DeSalvo, a combat medic and civilian police officer, has served three years. Highlights include basic and advanced training and making lifelong friends with other Soldiers. "Wearing the uniform and representing the United States" makes him proud to serve in the National Guard. "I am excited to continue my National Guard career and proudly serve."

Staff Sgt. Denise Duggan

1083rd Transportation Company, Louisiana Army National Guard

Duggan, a transportation specialist, joined the military in 2013. She has served with the Indiana and Louisiana Army National Guard. Highlights of her service include helping local communities during natural disaster response and serving with people from all walks of life. “Service to community and country has always been the cornerstone of my family. My father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and majority of my siblings have answered the call to serve in almost every component.”

Sgt. Ethan Dunlap

Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment, Michigan Army National Guard

Dunlap has served in the military since 2015, joining the Guard in 2018. An infantryman, he deployed to Afghanistan in 2016-2017 and Syria in 2022-2023. "Having a family and still being able to serve your community and country is a huge upside to the National Guard." Asked what makes him proud to serve in the National Guard, Dunlap, a mechanic and tattoo artist in civilian life, says: "Being a part of something greater, having a sense of purpose, and that people look to you in times of need."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jared F. Dutcher

Echo Company, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Dutcher, a Bronze Star recipient, has served since 1989. Recent deployments include a 2021 mission in Kuwait. He is proud of being a part of something bigger than himself and "all the great things we do foreign and domestic."

Spc. Robert Fabionar

HHD, 741st Ordnance Battalion (EOD), Washington Army National Guard

Fabionar joined the military in 2018, following a long line of family members into service. He says being able to serve locally makes him proud to be a member of the National Guard.

Spc. Peter Fillion

C Troop, 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment, New York Army National Guard

Fillion, an infantryman, has served almost three years and is studying architecture in graduate school. "The National Guard is unique in its mission set because it serves both the state and federal governments. I’m proud to serve in the National Guard because I know that I get to serve my country and community when they need it most."

Sgt. Andrew Fournier

507th Engineer Battalion, Forward Support Company, Michigan Army National Guard

Fournier joined the Guard more than 10 years ago, motivated by the 9/11 terror attacks. He deployed to the Middle East for Operation Inherent Resolve.

Spc. Chelsea Garrett

133 Delta, Army National Guard Band, Washington Army National Guard

Garrett, a wheeled vehicle mechanic and trombone player, loves playing music in the community. Her first concert with her unit was on the Fourth of July close to where she grew up. "It meant a lot to be close to home and bringing joy to people." She says being a wheeled vehicle mechanic has opened many doors for her in civilian life, where she is a service adviser at a dealership. "I would not be who I am without the National Guard."

Spc. Joel A. Hernandez

Delta 141 Battalion Support Brigade, Washington Army National Guard

Hernandez, a wheeled vehicle mechanic, joined the Guard in 2014 for "the resources, guidance and support I needed." He's grateful for the travel and friendships he has made while serving. "I come from a family of immigrant parents and am the first person in my family to graduate high school and make the decision to serve in the military. I am proud to represent my culture/heritage, to be bilingual, and to provide an example to those who grew up like me. I am proud to serve a country that has offered my family and myself many opportunities."

Staff Sgt. Selene Huckell

141 Air Refueling Wing, Washington Air National Guard

Huckell, a member of the Guard since 2018, served during the COVID-19 pandemic at food banks, testing and vaccination sites. "The bonds I made with fellow Guardsmen were amazing." She says she is proud to serve in the National Guard, "being able to support our state when it needs our help and being able to financially support my family."

Spc. Marshall Ignas

133rd Army Band, Washington Army National Guard

Ignas has served since 2015. "To understand what it means to stand ready to sacrifice everything for the Constitution really makes me proud of the choices I made." He says he's proud to serve in the Guard, "knowing the connection to the foundation of militias in this country goes all the way to the origins of the U.S. military. ... I just want to make amazing music, represent the Army well, and help my fellow Soldiers with anything they need, be it marksmanship oriented or musicianship oriented."

Sgt. Jaycob Johnson

Kilo Company Recruit Sustainment Program, Illinois Army National Guard

Johnson joined the Guard in 2017. He is a small arms artillery repairer and recruiter. Highlights of his service include training in Germany, recruiting future Soldiers and helping people in his community.

Command Sgt. Maj. Leylan Jones

369th Sustainment Brigade, New York Army National Guard

Jones, a Bronze Star recipient, joined the military in 1997 and deployed to Iraq in 2003-2005 and 2009-2010. His civilian job is with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Jones says the highlight of his service is seeing Soldiers he has mentored compete, test their abilities and move up through the ranks. "Being able to serve our country and state and respond to real life emergencies whether they are in our state or overseas makes me proud to serve. It is rewarding to assist our state and country in times of need."

Pfc. Kenyon Linden

HHC, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Louisiana Army National Guard

Linden, an air defense battle management systems operator, joined the military in 2022. He is studying political science with a concentration in internal affairs while minoring in criminal justice. He plans to use his degree to become a U.S. international foreign affairs ambassador. “The National Guard gives me an opportunity to have a civilian life and go to school while serving my country.” His favorite part of serving is working as a team to accomplish any task.

Sgt. 1st Class Jose Lugo

B Company, 156th Information Operations Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Lugo, a cryptologic linguist (Spanish), has 25 years of combined service in the Navy and National Guard. He deployed to the Middle East in 2022-2023 for Operation Inherent Resolve. "My pride comes in the form of serving — serving my country and the community in which I live. I’m proud to be a part of a group of dedicated professionals with a sense of commitment, compassion, and purpose — making sacrifices every day to meet the needs of their families and to give of themselves for a cause greater than themselves."

Pfc. Johnny Luzitano

HHD, 741st Ordnance Battalion (EOD), Washington National Guard

Luzitano joined the Guard in 2022 "to help people without halting my civilian life." He is a human resources specialist who manages a YMCA in civilian life. Luzitano says he is proud of "the people I serve with. Many of them are former active duty and are successful outside of the Guard, yet they still volunteer to help when they are needed."

Sgt. Steven Mason

Echo Company 1-106th Assault Helicopter Battalion, Illinois Army National Guard

Mason, a Guardsman since 2015, is deployed to the Middle East for operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield. He says the Army "has given me a sense of purpose, a career, guidance, stability and overall has kept me out of trouble. ... My job as an NCO is to guide, teach, mentor, and look out for Soldiers. I have a huge passion for mentoring Soldiers."

Spc. Jacob May

D Company, 141st Brigade Support Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

May has served since 2017, including a 2019-2020 deployment to Jordan. "I am proud to serve the National Guard because I feel a sense of unity with fellow Guard members. I am looking forward to continuing to grow as a Soldier to master my craft and to guide future Soldiers to be successful."

1st Lt. Agyapong Oduro-Kwarteng

Echo Company, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Oduro-Kwarteng, a native of Ghana, joined the Guard in 2017 after graduating with a master's degree in engineering and technology management. "Being able to balance between having my civilian career and military career is awesome. The family culture within the Guard as well as the opportunity to become all you can be is what makes me proud of serving. The National Guard affords me the opportunity to serve on civil and federal missions bringing change and contributing to the people in the state and nation."

Spc. Donavin Page

176th Engineer Vertical Company, Washington Army National Guard

Page, a carpentry and mason specialist, joined the Guard in 2019 "to serve my country as well as being there for my family when they need me." He is proud of "making a difference in my community, state and country as best as I can."

Sgt. Megan Perkins

Charlie Company, 134th Brigade Support Battalion, Minnesota Army National Guard

Perkins, a combat medic specialist, joined the Guard in 2019 in search of "a greater purpose, something to push me completely out of my comfort zone." She deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan to support the Spartan Shield and Allies Refuge operations and conducted arctic training with the Norwegian Home Guard on a State Partnership Program engagement. "As a medic in the Army, I want to be the person to help my fellow Soldiers on what could be their worst day. I want to be the one to get them back home. I want to be that dependable and reliable leader for younger Soldiers."

Pfc. Corlyn Peterson

39th Military Police, Washington Army National Guard

Peterson, a Guardsman since 2022, says the Army gave her purpose and "taught me core values and strength and belief in oneself, after many years of being outcasted for the color of my skin and hair in Hawaii." She is a military police officer and, in civilian life, an emergency medical technician. "The National Guard gives me a chance to have my life while I get to serve one of the best militaries in the world."

Spc. Katherine Petit

Detatchment 1, Echo Company, 1st Battalion, 140th Aviation Battalion , Washington Army National Guard

Petit followed her father into the National Guard more than 10 years ago. A highlight of her service was completing basic training despite suffering pelvic stress fractures. "What makes me proud to serve in the National Guard is that our mission is specifically to help the communities in Washington. I was activated for COVID orders, did training for wildfires and trained for the riots in 2020. Regardless of the training, knowing my mission is to help our communities makes all the other sacrifices worth it."

Sgt. Audrey Pohl

507th Engineer Battalion, Michigan Army National Guard

Pohl, currently deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, joined the Guard in 2020. "Not many people have what it takes to even walk in the door of a recruiting office, let alone make it through the training and keep going. I love my state and am proud to serve for the people in my own backyard."

Sgt. Maj. Charles Quimby

Joint Force Headquarters, Louisiana Army National Guard

Quimby, the Louisiana Army National Guard’s J4 (logistics) senior enlisted advisor, joined the military in 1995. He has served in multiple leadership positions and oversees logistical support for over 10,000 joint military and civilian personnel in the LANG. Highlights of his career include responding to disasters and serving during multiple deployments. He enjoys coaching and mentoring subordinates.

Maj. Kevin G. Robillard

Echo Company, 1-168th, General Support Aviation Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Robillard, a UH-60M helicopter pilot, joined the Guard more than 16 years ago "to do something meaningful with my life and be a part of something bigger." He says serving the community he is a part of means a great deal to him. Highlights of his service: "Being able to help the people of Afghanistan during my deployment, leading teams, jumping out of planes and helicopters, flying them, meeting so many incredible people and forging lifelong relationships. Challenging myself physically and mentally in ways I never thought I could!"

Spc. Taylor Robinson

1775th Military Police Company, Michigan National Guard

Robinson, a combat medic, joined the Guard in 2023 to "be an asset to my country" and help pay for her education. She has served on the Southwest border. "I’m proud to serve in the National Guard because I am able to do what I love, help people within the medical field and overall see the growth and development in others."

Staff Sgt. Israel Rubio

Bravo Company, 642 Aviation Support Company, New York Army National Guard

Rubio joined the Guard in 2010 and deployed to Kuwait in 2013-2014. "I am proud to serve in the ARNG because of its dual mission, state and federal. My first stateside mission was assisting in debris removal post-Superstorm Sandy in 2012. I was a young PFC, eager to help in any way my community. It felt good to help fellow Long Islanders/New Yorkers, and the appreciation that we received was inspiring."

Pvt. Reggie Sektes

303rd Bravo Troop, Washington Army National Guard

Sektes, a cavalry scout, joined the Guard a year ago to serve the community and be a role model. "I'm proud to serve in the National Guard because it is us who get called upon in a major humanitarian crisis and I enjoy helping others in the time of need."

Officer Candidate Eduardo Serna

1970th Quartermaster Company, Illinois Army National Guard

Serna, an Honor Guard Soldier, has served eight years, including on the Southwest border mission. "What makes me proud about serving in the National Guard is that I get to be a Soldier and also have my civilian career, which I both love."

Lt. Col. Joseph Siemandel

341st Military Intelligence Battalion, Washington National Guard

Siemandel joined the Guard in 2002 and has served in Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia and traveled to the Kingdom of Thailand and Malaysia for State Partnership Program engagements. "Everything I have been able to accomplish in my life has been because at age 18, I walked into a recruiting office in Lakewood, Washington, and was open-minded about joining the National Guard. ... I have been blessed to grow up in this organization with Soldiers and Airmen that have become like family to me. They were there for my wedding, when my daughter was born and have celebrated with me through the highs and picked me up during my lows."

Tech. Sgt. David Stefaniak

116 Air Refueling Squadron, Washington Air National Guard

Stefaniak, an in-flight refueling specialist, joined the military more than 15 years ago and has deployed to Qatar and Thailand. "I really take pride in being able to serve Washingtonians specifically and, more broadly, the United States. It’s unique to Guard members that we serve both. There are also fantastic people in our Guard forces, again both Army and Air, that I have had the pleasure of working with. I’m proud to have served with such great people."

Sgt. Oliver Tapia

HHT, 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment, Washington Army National Guard

Tapia has served since 2012, including a 2019-2020 deployment to Jordan. A medic, he enjoys being part of a team. "I’m proud to serve in the National Guard because I want to continue to serve the community around me and the people of Washington any way that I can."

Drill Sgt. Caelin Taylor

Recruit Sustainment Program, Detachment 2, Bravo Company, Kentucky Army National Guard.

Taylor joined the Guard in 2017. Her military occupational speciality is motor transport vehicle operator. In civilian life, she is a fashion model and social media coordinator. "What makes me most proud of serving in the National Guard is that I’m living proof to the young women of my community and millions of women across America that being in the military doesn’t mean giving up your sense of femininity. It also makes me proud of myself, that I can do difficult things on a runway or a pageant stage and also complete tough Soldier tasks like long ruck marches and advanced military academies." Taylor has served on the Southwest border and plans to compete in the Kentucky Army National Guard Best Warrior Competition again next year.

Spc. Martin Torres

1041st Transportation Company, Washington Army National Guard

Torres joined the Guard in 2014. "A recruiter talked to me and I decided it was something I wanted to do right after high school to challenge myself and to make use of the benefits." Highlights of his service include missions to mitigate wildfires and COVID-19.

1st Sgt. Nick Van Kirk

10th Civil Support Team (Weapons of Mass Destruction), Washington National Guard

Van Kirk, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist, joined the Guard in 2005. He has served in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Estonia, Australia, Thailand, South Korea and Paraguay. "I came off active duty in 2005 and had no intention of joining the Guard, but my battalion commander, Lt. Col. Nick Guarino, said he wouldn’t sign my terminal leave papers unless I considered the Guard or Reserves." He says highlights of his service include parachute and biathlon competitions and working with the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. "The Guard has provided so many opportunities to me — to see places I would not have otherwise dreamed of seeing. Also, to be able to leave to leave active duty with a bachelor’s degree with zero debt is something I am so fortunate for."

2nd Lt. Emmanuel P. Vululleh

HHT, 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment, Washington Army National Guard

Vululleh joined the Guard in 2018, "inspired by a desire to serve in my local community, and to challenge myself both physically and mentally." The highlight of his service is the camaraderie, teamwork and shared commitment of his unit. He says the Guard enables him to "serve my local community and it is also a great learning environment as I work with people that have increasingly similar and vastly different civilian careers than mine."

Staff Sgt. Benjamin West

144th Army Band, Illinois Army National Guard

West, an Army Bandsman, joined the Guard in 2015 and was part of the COVID-19 response mission. "I enjoy knowing that the people I am serving are also those I will run into at Walmart or a restaurant. I serve the country through perception in the community, but also have the ability to give people a positive view of the nation's military."

Spc. Jaimie Whatley

Joint Force Headquarters, Washington Army National Guard

Whatley joined the Guard in 2022, inspired by a friend's stories of the camaraderie she experienced in the military. "As a single mother, it provides stability for my family and a better life for my children." The highlight of her time in the Guard was "saluting the flag during the national anthem at basic training graduation, realizing I made it through basic training at 39 years old."

Spc. John Winheld

Detachment 1, 152 Engineer Support Company, New York Army National Guard

Winheld, a carpentry-masonry specialist, joined the Guard in 2021 to test himself. He loves serving his community on state active duty missions and is looking forward to deploying to Africa in 2025. Camaraderie with fellow Soldiers and jungle warfare are highlights of his service.

Sgt. 1st Class Travis Wood

2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry, New York Army National Guard

Wood joined the Guard in 2010 "because I wanted a little something extra in my life." The highlight of his service, which included a deployment to Germany in 2022-2023 to support Ukraine, has been working with service members from other countries and traveling on Guard missions. "It’s a tough job that requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work. People see the National Guard as a monthly weekend gig, but in takes a lot of self-learning and work to stay proficient in Soldier tasks."

Sgt. Justin Yenn

Echo Company, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion, Washington Army National Guard

Yenn, a wheeled vehicle mechanic, joined the Guard in 2015. He enjoys traveling and training in different countries. "Defending my states in a time of need or natural disaster" makes him proud to be a Guardsman.