WASHINGTON - Kelly Hokanson, spouse of the chief of the National Guard Bureau, and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Sherrie L. McCandless, District of Columbia National Guard commanding general, recognized the DCNG Family Readiness Program Feb. 9 for supporting more than 26,000 Soldiers and Airmen during the Capitol Response.
Following the attack on the Capitol Jan. 6, 2021, National Guard members from all 50 states, three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia traveled to the nation’s capital to provide security, communications, medical evacuation, logistics and safety support.
“This was the single largest movement of Soldiers and Airmen inside the United States since the Civil War … 26,000 guardsmen were here in the nation’s capital in an unprecedented short time,” McCandless said during the recognition event at the District of Columbia Armory.
Hokanson said National Guard members faced numerous challenges at the Capitol, including bitterly cold temperatures and a pandemic, making every interpersonal contact a risk.
Throughout the more than five-month response, the DCNG Family Readiness Program provided food, hygiene products, care packages, recreational outlets and comfort to thousands of Airmen and Soldiers far from home.
“In the dark, turbulent times, there were glimmers of hope, signs of strength, and reasons to stand together and stand strong,” said Hokanson. “Three of those glimmers are here with us today, and I am honored to recognize their tremendous work. I am even more honored to call them my friends: Ms. Renee Bangura, Ms. Sylvia Lynch, though everyone calls her ‘Mama Lynch,’ and Ms. Nicolette Stout.”
The three DCNG Family Readiness Program staff members exceeded expectations in taking care of the force during the domestic operations — often working 16-hour days to coordinate with countless support organizations and advocate for service members, she added.
“Above all, they demonstrated what it means to serve,” said Hokanson.
The spouses of several state adjutants general attended the event and toured the armory’s family readiness center, receiving a firsthand look at some of the services provided to many of their state’s Guard members.
“Every Guardsman that came here got pulled out of your formations. … We just want to make sure you know, our family, our family care team was here, they were supporting throughout,” said McCandless.
Across the nation, the family readiness programs connect service members and families — ensuring National Guard families remain Always Ready, Always There for missions at home or abroad.
“When the person you love is called up to serve somewhere far away, or when you’re trying to navigate the ins and outs of being a National Guard family, remember there are family programs all across the 54 [states and territories],” said Hokanson. “There are people like Renee, Sylvia, and Nicolette, ready to lend an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or a hand to hold. They take care of our families and they become part of them.”