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Family Matters Blog: National Guard Offers Support to All Families

By Heather Forsgren Weaver
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2010 – You don’t have to be in the National Guard for the National Guard to help you. If you or a family member is in the military, in any branch, the Guard will be there, said Alex Baird, chief of family programs for the National Guard Bureau.

“The Guard is willing to help any family member,” Baird told participants in a recent “DoD Live” bloggers roundtable. (http://www.dodlive.mil/index.php/2010/07/dodlive-bloggers-roundtable-national-guard-family-issues/) “We’re all in the same service together, so we’re willing to help anybody.”

Baird suggested that family members check out the Guard’s portal page at www.jointservicessupport.org.

The URL begins with the word “Joint,” a new key word that Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith of the National Guard Bureau wrote about for the National Guard’s website (NG.mil) in the article “Joint: The New 'Buzz Word' in Family Support.”

http://www.ng.mil/news/archives/2010/08/080410-Joint.aspx

The Web portal helps family members access state-specific information.

The portal is a “one-stop shop where you can go to and find out what the state resources are,” Baird said.

National Guardmembers and their families are everywhere, Baird said. Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau “likes to say we have a Guardmember and family in every zip code in the United States.”

But even with the challenge of so many members so spread out, the National Guard works with members from other reserve components and their families, Baird said.

With more than 3,000 armories and 92 locations with servicemembers from the Air National Guard, the National Guard has interacted with members from the Army Reserve, the Navy Reserve and the Marine Corps Reserve, he said.

“We don’t ever turn anyone away, and we know our other Reserve counterparts never turn any of our families away,” he said.

The National Guard doesn’t “try to replace the Reserve components,” Baird said, but sometimes being local has advantages.

“When you’ve got somebody, let’s say in Kentucky that you’re trying to get help from, they don’t really know what the services are in Minnesota,” he said.

Having access to National Guard resources nationwide is also helpful in areas without a large military presence. Baird recalled that when he grew up in Burley, Idaho, “they don’t even think about [the] military because there’s no installation anywhere around there.”

To comment on this blog, visit the Family Matters website.

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