Clark Howard: Why I decided to serve my country by joining the State Guard

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Why I decided to join the Georgia State Defense Force
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Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t thank me for my service in the military, but they don’t know what part of the military I’m in! I’d like to explain.

I enlisted in my State Guard in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. My state guard is an all-volunteer group known as the Georgia State Defense Force. When I first heard about this opportunity, I had no idea what or who they were.

All about the State Guard: Here’s how I serve my country

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 are the duties of the State Guard?

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, including:

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  • Ceremonial functions such as parade color guards
  • Support for local public events
  • Response during natural or man-made 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.

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.

Here is the contact information for State Guards for some other states:

State Organization name Contact name Contact number
Alabama Alabama State Defense Force Robert Marsh (334) 774-6047
Alaska Alaska State Defense Force Dale Dickson (907) 428-6875
California California State Military Reserve Unknown Unknown
Connecticut Connecticut National Guard Unknown (860) 493-2721
Georgia Georgia State Defense Force general e-mail (678) 861-7045
Indiana Indiana Guard Reserve general e-mail (317) 244-7173
Maryland Maryland Defense Force general e-mail (410) 653-6793
Michigan Michigan Volunteer Defense Force general e-mail (231) 884-1644
Mississippi The Mississippi State Guard general e-mail (601) 933-6332
New Mexico The New Mexico State Defense Force Col. Kenneth Shull (505) 474-2051
New York New York Guard general e-mail (518) 786-7414
North Carolina North Carolina State Guard Col. Thomas Griffith (704) 847-4855
Ohio Ohio Military Reserve general e-mail (866) 428-6817
Oregon The Oregon State Defense Force general e-mail Unknown
Puerto Rico The Puerto Rico State Guard Unknown Unknown
South Carolina The South Carolina State Guard general e-mail (803) 253-6210
Tennessee The Tennessee State Guard Gilbert Cameron (615) 532-3288
Texas Texas State Guard Association general e-mail (512) 465-5101
Vermont Vermont State Guard Suzey Devoid (802) 338-3423
Virginia The Virginia State Defense Force general e-mail (804) 228-7018
Washington The Washington State Guard general e-mail (253) 512-8231

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