Washington National Guard working to protect our state
More than 8,000 men and women in Washington dedicate their lives to the one of our country’s oldest institution’s – the National Guard.
“We’re actually the oldest branch of service in the United States,” Sergeant Todd Stone said. “We might be standing next to you and you don’t even know it, the guy next to you could be a national guard soldier and you’d never know he was a soldier, but he’s there.”
Unlike active duty, guard members have normal jobs, but still have military training and drills once a month.
“We’re part time based, soldiers are basically doctors, nurses, truck drivers, even just your burger flippers from burger king. These guys come in, they go when they’re called up and told hey ‘we need you for this’ these guys come up and step up and they do the role they’re trained for,” Todd said.
First Lieutenant Joe Siemandel has been in the guard for nearly 10 years, and in that time he’s had a wide array of duties.
“In my ten years in the guard I’ve been deployed to Iraq, Saudi Arabia…” Siemandel said. “I’ve been a combat engineer when I was enlisted, I’m a military intelligence officer now, I’m currently the public affairs officer, I’ve done different things with that job too.”
And just as the guard is a big part of Joe’s life, so is his girlfriend of seven years Jilian Winterfeld.
“Well ever since i met him he was in the guard, so it was always just kind of a package deal,” Winterfeld said.
And while Joe plans to stay in Spokane, the risk of deployment is always there…
“Unless he gets deployed I’m not too concerned and even if he did get deployed i wouldn’t be too concerned because of the unit he’s with they’re such a tight knit group that i trust all of them with his life, which is really great,” Winterfeld said.
A close-knit group, even though they only meet once a month, a sense of community is what our military is about.
“M favorite part is just getting a chance to serve the state and country, serve with my friends really,” Siemandel said.
“I’s a good feeling, it really is,” Stone said, “I mean, my neighbors everyday they see me in my uniform as i get in and out of my car and they just thank me, hey thanks for your service.”