A look at the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF)

A look at the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF)
Image Credit: Georgia State Defense Force/Flickr
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The Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) is the all-volunteer, uniformed, unpaid branch of the Georgia Department of Defense, which includes the Army and Air National Guard. The State Defense Force allows veterans and those who have never served in the armed forces the opportunity for uniformed service to help their fellow citizens.

What does the SDF do?

1. The SDF serves as the replacement for the National Guard if the Guard is called into federal service. In that case, the SDF would expand its ranks and prepare to perform tasks within the state as required by the Governor.
2. In ‘peacetime,’ SDF provides support and assistance to the National Guard by assisting the training and administration of Guard units. A major task is to provide assistance to the families of Guardsmen ordered into federal service. It supports the National Guard’s state missions by performing a variety of community support tasks. These range from ceremonial functions such as parade color guards and support for local public events to response during natural or manmade disasters and emergencies. During such emergencies, SDF volunteers may assist state and local emergency management offices and local law enforcement in search and rescue operations, evacuation and traffic control. Other duties may include assessing the extent of damage, isolating areas of potential hazard to the public and assisting service agencies operating emergency public shelters.

What training and benefits are available?

The State Defense Force conducts extensive training, including indoctrination for new members, mission task training for individuals and units and professional development training to enhance leadership and management skills. This training takes place in a classroom setting with hands-on training sessions, as well as individual study sessions using materials from the U.S. Armed Forces and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Subjects include CPR, first aid, communications and navigation, public speaking, computer skills and disaster management. Our units normally meet once a month at local National Guard armories, and at least one weekend a year for annual training. Professional development training sessions are scheduled as required.

Members performing active duty for the state are protected by Worker’s Compensation. Although we purchase our own uniforms, state funds are sometimes available to reimburse members for selected travel and living costs during training or state active duty.

Who can join the State Defense Force?

No experience is required. We welcome all adult citizens between the ages of 18 and 64. Membership is voluntary. You will be sworn in as required by state law. All applicants undergo a background check.

Our ranks are filled with the young and old, men and women of all races, religions and creeds, doctors, lawyers, business people, clergymen and homemakers. A patriotic desire to serve their community and state is their common bond.

How can I join?

Learn more about joining Georgia’s SDF at the Georgia State Defense Force official website. If you contact the GSDF, include your name, mailing address, telephone number and a brief description of your educational, military and civilian experience.

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