August Chief's Concerns
By Chief Master Sgt. Bonita Floyd-Ross, 169th MSG
/ Published August 01, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- It wasn't very long ago that those of us in the National Guard were looked upon as inferior by most members of the Active Duty forces. Like me, many of you may have been labeled a "weekend warrior" and I'm sure you've all heard some of the comments; "Oh, it's only the Guard; only two days a month, 15 days a year; that's easy, a piece of cake; oh you are just a member of the Guard, or you're just a weekend warrior, or Guardsmen have it made, etc. etc." While that stereotype may have been grounded in a slight bit of truth in the past, the mission of today's Guardsman is far removed from the label of weekend warrior.
Today you won't find those "weekend warriors" in uniform just two days a month. Instead you will find them serving alongside their active duty comrades 365 days a year, performing the same duties, supporting the same joint mission, defending democracy and defeating the enemies of freedom in seamless concert with every other Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine who has answered the call. It is rare to find a traditional Guardsman who hasn't deployed to Southwest Asia at least once. The deployment tempo is intense for Guardsmen.
Guardsmen also serve in their state and local communities while at home. It's silly to think that a Guardsman's service to their country, state, communities, and their loved ones simply stops when they put their ABUs on a hangar. We continue to serve those in our radius, playing important roles as police officers, fire fighters, federal employees, and leaders in businesses. All of us fill vital roles in our communities and our country. When a Guardsman puts on the uniform to deploy, they are also taking off one for their civilian job. What a sacrifice! Always know that you are more than a weekend warrior. Take pride in the uniform you wear and your commitment to serve when called upon.
While stereotypes and opinions may take decades to overcome they can never hold the power to sway our attitudes or diminish the level of dedication we give to completing our mission and our service to this great nation. The role we all play as Guardsmen is vital to the Air Force and America, and it cannot be downplayed by the prejudices of others. It's up to each one of us to find the positive self-gratification that comes not from exterior comments of the uninitiated, but from within ourselves, from our internal conscience to which we cannot lie. It is there that we find true satisfaction within ourselves and our performance, truly knowing the manner in which we have strived and the service which we have given to something beyond ourselves is the absolute best we can possibly give. That is worth more than anyone's opinion of you or the general perception of the members of the Air National Guard. For today's Guardsman, the weekend warrior perception simply isn't grounded in reality.
However, the one sure thing we know that is grounded in reality is the success of the Swamp Fox. The Swamp Fox reputation is known throughout the Air Force as the premier F-16 fighter wing all thanks to everyone's efforts to maintain our reputation and mission effectiveness. Not only will our success in the Certified Readiness Evaluation prove we are capable of fulfilling any mission. But it can also determine our future existence in today's shrinking military. Take hold of the purpose of the mission and understand your role and how you are vital to the success of the South Carolina Air National Guard.