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Supporting our National Guard troops

October 10, 2018

Since before our statehood, Nebraska’s National Guard has been a critical part of making Nebraska be the best place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. The Nebraska National Guard was founded on December 23, 1854 with the stroke of acting Territorial Governor Thomas B. Cuming’s pen on a proclamation recommending that the citizens of the new Nebraska territory organize volunteer companies of troops. Today’s Nebraska National Guard employs nearly 4,600 Soldiers, Airmen, and civilians on both a full-time and part-time basis. With 25 readiness centers located in 23 communities and an important Air National Guard base in Lincoln, the Nebraska National Guard has a footprint throughout the state.

As Governor of Nebraska, I have been privileged and honored to also serve as the commander-in-chief of the Nebraska National Guard. Today, Governor Cuming’s emphasis on organizing Nebraskans as volunteers remains a driving force behind the Nebraska National Guard. With the unique dual responsibility of serving both a state and federal mission, the Nebraska National Guard has proven time and again that a properly trained and equipped volunteer force of citizen warriors can be ready and able to tackle whatever mission they are asked to complete. During my tenure as Governor, more than 1,500 Nebraska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have deployed around the world, nation, and state in support of a wide variety of missions.

Just last month for example, I authorized 13 Nebraska Army National Guard Soldiers to assist with hurricane relief efforts in North Carolina following the massive devastation caused by Hurricane Florence. Upon receiving their orders, these Soldiers quickly flew two helicopters from Lincoln, Nebraska, to Tennessee for pre-staging before conducting support missions in North Carolina.

While there, these Nebraska Guard Soldiers became an integral part of a national response effort, during which more than 400 people and animals were rescued; more than 685,000 pounds of supplies and equipment were moved; and essential personnel were transported to where they were needed most. Our troops also provided important aerial capabilities that enabled North Carolina leaders to survey the damage. On one particular transport mission, I am told, the Nebraska National Guard flew an ill patient cut-off by flooding to a hospital where she was able to get the care she needed to live.

Similar relief missions also took hundreds of our Soldiers and Airmen to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands last year when three separate major hurricanes left grave devastation in their wakes.

Other missions have recently taken our Nebraska Army and Air National Guard warriors around the world to places like Cuba, Africa, the Middle East, and the western Pacific Ocean. During those missions, they have provided important capabilities to United States combatant commanders that enable them to deter war in volatile regions. If required, our troops are ready to wage combat against America’s foes. This federal mission is of vital importance to the national security of the United States, and we expect similar deployments and missions into the foreseeable future.

The State of Nebraska has taken several steps to support our troops. In 2016, I signed a statement of support for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) reaffirming the State of Nebraska’s commitment to state employees serving in military reserve units. That statement recognizes the unique skills and experiences members of the National Guard bring to the workplace as well as pledges support for our troops when they are called to action and away from their place of work.

Since taking office, Susanne and I make it a point to attend as many send-off ceremonies and welcome home ceremonies as possible to join families and friends in support and appreciation for our deploying service members. This support from the sons, daughters, husbands, wives, employers and communities is what enables our Nebraska National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to remain mission focused and to take on any task whenever and wherever they are needed.

Nebraskans are grateful for the continued service of our National Guard and all our military servicemen and women. We aspire to be the best place in the nation to serve in the military and to be a veteran. As we work toward our goal, I hope you will share your ideas and experiences by writing me at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or by calling 402-471-2244. God bless our troops, God bless Nebraska, and God bless the United States of America!

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