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NEWS | March 4, 2022

New Hampshire Guardsmen juggle civilian, military jobs

By Staff Sgt. Taylor Queen, 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Living by the motto “Always Ready, Always There” is easier said than done for New Hampshire National Guard members trying to balance their military obligation with their civilian job.

Over the past three months, more than 250 New Hampshire Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen have been supporting Operation Winter Surge, the state’s pandemic relief effort. They have been working at hospitals, nursing homes, the men’s state prison, the state warehouse and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Managing those competing expectations has been a challenge for Staff Sgt. Steven San Antonio of the 195th Regional Training Institute. He and his wife, Amy, started their own business in 2020 and were working to establish a stable flow of clients when he was first activated.

“We had just started the company and had to immediately try to figure out how to split the time,” said Amy. “It’s been a struggle for sure. It’s kind of like missing the wheel off of a car.”

Through tracing lineage and historical documents, the company certifies the history of properties for their clients, a process that Amy says takes no less than 20 hours per project.

Her husband was activated in February 2021. He was on orders until July and then reactivated in December.

“(Amy) has had to pick up a lot of additional duties that I used to do,” San Antonio said. “But she is crushing it and making it work.”

Cooperation is paramount in balancing the needs of private sector companies and those of the Guard.

“It’s never fun having to make the call [to an employer] to say I’m getting activated,” said 2nd Lt. Christopher Lind, officer in charge of Joint Task Force’s Dartmouth region. “I know I am kind of that wrench being thrown in.”

Lind works on a six-man production line at a cider company in Sherborn, Massachusetts. He is finishing his second activation in a year.

“It’s tough when you are trying to plan things logistically,” said his operations manager, Bright McConnell IV. “It’s kind of just the flip of a switch, and now I’m down a man.”

Lind praised his company for its staunch support. “They worked with me and took all the stress away,” he said. “Being mentally ready to complete the mission is huge.”

He also appreciates that his coworkers have had to cover down in his absence.

“They really need to be thanked as well,” Lind said.

Picking up the slack is something employers have grown accustomed to, especially during the last two years of the pandemic. They understand the necessary sacrifice but are eager for the return of their workers and the predictability of a full staff.

“I’m 1000% looking forward to Chris being back,” McConnell said. “He really is a valued asset to us. I know when he comes back, he will work just as hard without skipping a beat.”
 

 

 

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