The National Guard celebrates its 376th birthday on Dec. 13, 2012, and your Florida National Guard continues to have an impact in communities throughout Florida, and in nations throughout the world.
The Florida National Guard stands 12,000 citizens strong: 10,000 Soldiers and 2,000 Airmen.
These part-time professional Soldiers and Airmen, or “Traditionals,” have civilian careers but spend weekends and evenings training and practicing their military specialties. Our Guardsmen stand ready each and every day to respond, when needed, and to contribute daily to programs that add value to our Florida communities.
The Florida National Guard supports both state and federal missions. This year, our organization reached an important milestone, marking 16,000 deployments since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Florida National Guard has always played key roles during hurricanes, and other domestic support and emergency responses. Our aviation Soldiers assisted U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents by patrolling the southwest border. Our air defense Soldiers continue to provide the manpower that defends the skies above our Nation’s capital, and our Airmen continue to support the nation’s space launch program with highly skilled experts. Florida National Guardsmen support counterdrug operations throughout the state in cooperation with local and state law enforcement.
In August of 2012, the Florida National Guard provided support to law enforcement agencies at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. You may have also seen Florida National Guardsmen making preparations for Hurricane Isaac at the same time, and assisting flood victims in northeast Florida after Tropical Storm Debby in June. Most recently we supported citizens in New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy with a C-23 Sherpa transport aircraft. In addition, our Guard members pay homage to Florida’s veterans by providing military funeral honors at local cemeteries.
Our facilities at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center near Starke, Fla., host both military and civilian agencies throughout the year for training. Law enforcement agencies from throughout Florida come to Camp Blanding for training in partnership with the Florida National Guard and our Guardsmen work closely with first responders around the state. The Florida National Guard operates the Florida Youth Challenge Academy at Camp Blanding to educate and mentor at-risk youth from across the state.
The Florida National Guard also maintains strategic partnerships with other countries through the National Guard State Partnership Program. Florida’s state partners are Guyana and the countries of the Regional Security System in the Caribbean. We work closely with military and law enforcement agencies in these countries to share our knowledge and build relationships that are vital to the security of our nation.
This year, we’ve seen the unemployment rate of our Florida Guard Soldiers and Airmen drop to below the state’s average. This achievement is due to the efforts of our Florida Guard Family Career Connection and the local, state and federal partners that continue to support our mission of finding meaningful employment for all of our Guard members. Support from communities and employers means a lot to our Soldiers and Airmen who are returning home from deployments and looking to get back into the civilian workforce.
The Florida National Guard remains a community cornerstone, faithful to the heritage established back in 1636. With 61 armories in 39 Florida counties, we’re never far away when disaster hits. Our Soldiers and Airmen live and work in your towns, their children go to school with your children and they share the love we all have for this great state and nation. With your support, the Florida National Guard is always ready, always there.