Sept. 25, 2020

Top photo: Sgt. Riley Alternburg, 164th Engineer Battalion, participates in the STX (situational training exercise) lanes event during the 2021 Best Warrior Competition at Camp Grafton Training Center, Devils Lake, N.D. on Aug. 15, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Drew Ward, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

N.D. 2021 Best Warrior Competition

by Sgt. Michaela C.P. Granger, 116th Public Affairs Detachment

Seventeen Soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard competed in North Dakota's 2021 Best Warrior Competition (BWC) August 13-16, 2020 at Camp Grafton Training Center near Devils Lake, N.D. “The Best Warrior Competition takes character, confidence and commitment,” said State Command Sgt. Maj. Derek J. Heck. BWC challenges each Soldier to prove their military knowledge and strength and matches it against that of their fellow Soldiers in scenarios that replicate battlefield situations. Over the four days, N.D. Soldiers challenged themselves to prove that they were the best warrior in the state.

On the first day of BWC, the Soldiers competed in the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) to evaluate their stamina and strength. The ACFT consists of six events including a deadlift, standing power throws, and finishes with a two-mile run. The test is meant to mimic the physical endurance necessary for a soldier to go into combat situations.

Sgt. Lenzel Koskela, 191st Military Police Company, performs in the dead lift event during the Army Combat Fitness Test at the Best Warrior Competition on Aug. 13. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Drew Ward, 116th Public Affair Detachment)

The competitors wore their Army Service Uniforms (ASU) for the remaining day’s events. The Soldiers examined an ASU for discrepancies and had their own uniform inspected. Their ability to speak clearly was tested with an on-camera interview. The final events were a written exam and formal board interviews, comprised of a series of questions related to military knowledge.

Staff Sgt. Tek Khatiwoda, left, 1st Battalion, 188th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, and Spc. John Coombs, 188th Engineer Company, participate in the uniform inspection test during the Best Warrior Competition on August 13. The competitors must correct identify deficiencies on the Army Service Uniform (ASU). (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Drew Ward, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

The Guardsmen completed a night and day land-navigation course on the second day, starting at 3:30 a.m. and again at 7:00 a.m. The competitors had to find markers using only printed maps and their orientation equipment. The day event was cut short due to dangerous weather conditions and the soldiers moved on to weapons firing, three gun shoot, firing an M320 grenade launcher, a 6-mile ruck march, and a mystery event consisting of assembling a saw gun while wearing a gas mask.

Spc. Andrew Doss, 191st Military Police Company, secures his area during an exercise during the Best Warrior Competition on Aug. 15, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Kristin L. Berg, 68th Troop Command)

“I think everyone did an excellent job, the motivation was great and the comradery was awesome,” said competitor Spc. Andrew Doss of Det 1, 191st Military Police Company. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it kind of sucked in the beginning. But as the weekend went on, it became more fun. It was really motivating.”

The remaining two days were dedicated to challenging their military fortitude, starting with situational training exercise (STX) lanes. The lanes tested the competitors’ abilities to perform a number of warrior tasks and battle drills ranging from hand grenade throwing to rebuilding a radio.

The final day of the competition, the soldiers rappelled down the side of the forty-foot tower and raced through a confidence course.

Sgt. Riley Altenburg, 164th Engineer Battalion, rappels down the side of a tower as Sgt. Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company, steadies the rope during the 2021 State North Dakota National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Grafton Training Center on Aug. 16, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Michaela C.P. Granger, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

The Soldiers were graded on each event and on the final day, their overall scores were compiled to select the best warrior in the state for 2021.

Sgt. Brandon Wendland of the 957th Engineer Company won the title of State Best Warrior in the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO) category and Doss won in the Soldier category. Both soldiers showed outstanding determination when faced with the challenges presented by the demanding event.

Sgt. Brandon Wendland, 957th Engineer Company, does hand release push ups during the Army Combat Fitness Test during the 2021 State North Dakota National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Grafton Training Center on Aug. 13, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Kristin L. Berg, 116th Public Affair Detachment/Released)

“It feels good to win the competition,” said Wendland. He had previously competed in the lower enlisted category and returned three years later to compete as an NCO. His leadership helped him prepare for the competition in the months leading up to it. “I’m glad to be back,” he said, “I had really good leadership in my unit who had been through the competition before that helped me prepare.”

North Dakota Soldier Competes at Army National Guard 2020 Best Warrior Competition

Summer 2019, Sgt. Grant Schafer, 816th Military Police Company, won the N.D. Best Warrior Competition (BWC) in the Soldier category, later earning the right to represent Region VI at the Army National Guard 2020 BWC at Camp Shelby Joint Force Training Center and Camp McCain Training Center in Miss. Note: Schafer began the competition before being promoted to sergeant, and therefore competed in the Soldier category.

Risk Reduction Navigator

Navigating Our Way To A Ready & Resilient Force

By Mrs. Amy Ruff, NDARNG Resilience, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention (R3SP).

Welcome to the first Risk Reduction Navigator (R2N) commentary! These editorials will focus on the NDNG’s most valuable asset, our people. The R2N will contain various educational topics and prevention strategies to assist our Service Members, military families and civilian community members to navigate their way to empowerment, improved lives and success in achieving holistic health. Service Members are the foundation of the NDNG – they are trained, equipped and personally ready both physically and non-physically. Most people can make a clear connection between the physical health of our Soldiers and Airmen and their ability to be mission ready. Physical health pillars include fitness training and testing, such as the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT). However, at times, our vision is blurred when managing the non-physical aspects of a holistic approach to health. Non-physical pillars include sleep, nutrition and family, as well as psychological, spiritual and social health. The NDNG would be unable to fulfill its mission, vision or purpose without ready and resilient Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen.

It is the intent of the R2N to bring attention to those issues that pose a risk to readiness and resilience while highlighting those protective factors which increase Service Member’s ability to be mission ready. It is with this intent in mind, that we user September, National Suicide Prevention Month, as an opportunity to highlight risks and protective factors associated to the mental health of our force. According to the Department of Defense 2018 Annual Suicide Report, suicide rates among National Guard members continued to rise, and at a higher pace than that of active-duty troops. Nearly 31.6 per 100,000 National Guardsmen died by suicide in 2018, up from 29.8 per 100,000 in 2017 and 27.1 in 2016.

About 25 Soldiers of Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment participated in the '22 push-up challenge' at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Bismarck, N.D. on August 20. The purpose of this nation-wide challenge's is to raise awareness that 22 Veterans die by suicide per day.

Due to the increased risk to our Guard Members, we highlight the importance of our social health, focusing on our connectedness to family, friends, co-workers, peers, battle buddies/wingmen and our community. R2N encourages you to use ACE (Ask, Care, Escort) skills. First, ASK the difficult question, “Are you contemplating suicide?” Then, CARE for our Service Members by listening and expressing empathy. Finally, ESCORT the Service Member to services and professionals who are qualified to intervene. Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Miller, state command chief, discusses his struggles with this difficult subject.

Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber, deputy adjutant general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Derek Heck, N.D. state command sergeant major, highlight both the importance of social connectedness in their address to Service Members, military families and civilian community members.

The NDNG Soldiers and Airmen are not immune to mental health issues including suicide ideations, attempts and contemplations. In an effort to mitigate these risks, we rely heavily on prevention training, reducing stigmas associated to seeking help and encouraging battle buddies/wingmen to provide peer support to their fellow Service Members. We realize the best prevention efforts are from those Service Members with first-hand experience as survivors. NDNG Service Members Sgt. Nathan Griffin and Spc. Christopher Pfau share their stories breaking down the stigma associated with mental health.

The R2N looks forward to the opportunity to use this platform as a means to bring attention to factors that impact a Service Member’s ability to be mission ready. For 24/7/365 support, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Hooligan Hot-wire

Stories from the North Dakota Air National Guard, by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp

Air Force’s 73rd Birthday Worship Service

Chaplain (Maj.) Dellas Herbel, 119th Wing, was among the chaplains featured via a live broadcast of the celebration of the U.S. Air Force’s 73rd birthday worship service from his deployed location in southwest Asia on September 13, 2020. The broadcast originated in the Washington National Cathedral, Washington, D.C., and included a message from Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and prayers from diverse religious denominations and affiliations. Chaplain Herbel is an Eastern Orthodox priest, which are few in numbers, and the primary reason he was selected for the honor. Herbel appears at 16:20 on the video 2020 Air Force 73rd Birthday Worship Service.

POTUS Support at Fargo Air Base

A C-17 Globemaster aircraft transported a helicopter, a fleet of vehicles, equipment and personnel to the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, on September 16, 2020. This package was in support of President Donald Trump's visit to Bemidji, Minnesota, on September 18, 2020. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Nathanael Baardson)

A Sikorsky VH-3D Sea King helicopter is unloaded from a C-17 Globemaster at the N.D. Air National Guard base in Fargo. Fun fact, any rotary aircraft transporting the President is assigned the call-sign of 'Marine One'.

Hooligan Colonel Retires

by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp, 119th Wing

Col. John Gibbs, the director of staff for Air at the N.D. National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, was honored during a retirement at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., September 12, 2020. The ceremony was held in the base fire department building whose construction he assisted with as the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron commander in 2011. Gibbs served 31 years.

Brig. Gen. Bob Schulte, left, North Dakota National Guard chief of staff for Air, presents a certificate of retirement to Col. John Gibbs during his retirement ceremony on Sept. 12, 2020.

Sheila Gibbs places a retirement pin on her husband’s uniform during his retirement ceremony on Sept. 12, 2020.

N.D. National Guard Builds Relationships for Disaster Operations

by Sgt. Michaela Granger, 116th Public Affairs Detachment

N.D. National Guard (NDNG) Soldiers and Airmen worked with emergency services agencies to execute Vigilant Guard August 4-6, 2020. Vigilant Guard is a multi-agency exercise that took place across the state to refine each organizations understanding of operating procedures, evaluate their response capabilities, and improve inter-organization communication. This reflects the state’s response to real world events.

Vigilant Guard is an overarching exercise where multiple civil service agencies work together under a dual status command. A Dual Status Commander may command military members from multiple military branches and components. The exercise helps prepares local agencies for emergency responses that go beyond local capabilities, such as the 2011 Minot flood. In these events, the Governor may order the N.D. National Guard to assist.

North Dakota National Guard members from left to right Sgt. Travis Johnson, Master Sgt. Dennis Olsen, Sgt. Brent LaFontaine and Master Sgt. Craig Akerstrom, use hazardous material detection equipment during exercise Vigilant Guard at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Aug. 4, 2020. 119th Wing Emergency Management personnel teamed up with members of the North Dakota National Guard 81st Civil Support Team for a hazardous material detection exercise as part of exercise Vigilant Guard at the North Dakota Air National Guard regional training site. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

More than 110 Soldiers and Airmen from the NDNG participated in Vigilant Guard, working alongside local emergency service agencies as a single team. The exercises, ranging from cyber security to rescue operations, allowed soldiers to build and maintain relationships with public entities. “The Guard says ‘live here, serve here,’ and we want to build those partnerships before an event like this happens,” Capt. Justin Johnson, 957 Multi Roll Bridge Company said.

Pvt. Seth Horn, of the 188th Engineer Company, uses a chainsaw to remove branch limbs that are blocking rescue access to a simulated victim during Exercise Vigilant Guard at Golden Lake, N.D., Aug. 5, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

“Through these exercises, they now know our capabilities,” said Johnson. “It really reinforces what the guard can bring to an emergency situation.” Exercises like Vigilant Guard, allow civil service agencies to go through the process of identifying when they should request assistance, how to request assistance and how long it takes for the National Guard to arrive for duty.

From top left: 1st. Lt. Scott Leier; Network Systems Platoon Leader, 426th Signal Company, responds to a simulated cyber incident during Vigilant Guard 2020. Top right: Soldiers of the 957th Engineer Company retrieve a casualty mannequin from Crown Butte Dam during search and rescue exercise with the Morton County Sheriff's Department on Aug. 5, 2020. (Army National Guard photos by Staff Sgt. Ashley Johlfs, 116th Public Affairs Detachment). Bottom: Sgt. 1st Class John Noyes, a medical technician with the 81st Civil Support Team, treats simulated exercise victim Sgt. Travis Johnson, also of the 81st Civil Support Team, for injuries during exercise Vigilant Guard at the N.D. Air National Guard Base, Fargo, N.D., Aug. 4, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H Lipp)

Doing partner exercises builds a foundation for trust and communication between agencies, showcasing the skills of everyone involved in order to have a full scope of resources available to the state of North Dakota.

Vigilant Guard allows organizations like the NDNG to hone their skills and show their commitment to the communities of North Dakota. “The Guard is always ready, always there,” Johnson said. “That’s not just a saying to us; our Soldiers take to heart that they serve their community.”

Sgt. 1st Class Benji Boll of the 188th Engineer Company, discusses search and rescue plans with Jason Sletten, the Hatton, N.D. assistant fire chief, during Exercise Vigilant Guard at Golden Lake, N.D., Aug. 5, 2020. (Air National Guard photo by Chief Master Sgt. David H. Lipp)

COVID-19 Response Update

by Bill Prokopyk, North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs

The emergency response to COVID-19 by the N.D. National Guard continues. The number of personnel-days contributed to this pandemic mission so far, is third only to the response efforts during the 2011 and 2009 floods respectfully. As of September 23, 2020, N.D. Guard Soldiers and Airmen have administered over 160,000 COVID-19 tests and transported over 124,000 specimens to the N.D. state laboratory for evaluation. About 320 N.D. Guard members are currently on duty supporting COVID-19 response operations.

NDNG Historical personnel-days in support of State Emergencies

Public Affairs Soldiers - The Connection Beyond the Camera

by Spc. Thea Jorgensen, 116th Public Affairs Detachment

When you enlist in the N.D. Army National Guard (NDARNG), Soldiers choose a military occupation specialty (MOS). These jobs can range from cyber security to military police. But in the NDARNG, there is a small unit whose mission is to tell the Guard story. The 116th Public Affairs Detachment (PAD) is an eight-Soldier unit made up of broadcast and print journalist specialists. I am fortunate to be one of those eight.

On the surface, the job of Public Affairs appears to be as simple as snapping a photo. But what often goes unnoticed is the hours of editing required to produce each product. The meticulous task of breaking down hours of raw video footage into a three minute video can be daunting. Our objective is to fulfill the commanders' intent while also communicating the story in a manner that is entertaining and effective.

Our job and products are ever-evolving. From news-style broadcasting to live social media posts, how and what we do has changed over the years, but the why remains the same. The members of the 116th PAD are trained Soldiers, historians, photographers, videographers, and storytellers. Everything we capture is archived for historical purposes. Our work is also vital in marketing and recruiting by showing potential recruits the professional and personal opportunities that are available to them within our organization.

These same photos and videos often act as subtle reminders to Service Members on why they serve. The job of the 116th PAD is to capture moments in time that showcase the incredible obstacles Soldiers and Airmen overcome while pushing their absolute limits. Within a matter of 5 seconds we can depict exhaustion and endurance in one photo while capturing the excitement of competition and camaraderie in the next.

Spc. LaSean Pickstock, 957th Engineer Company, moves to his next station during common Soldier tasks during the N.D. National Guard Best Warrior Competition at Camp Grafton Training Center on Aug. 15, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Thea Jorgensen, 116th Public Affairs Detachment/Released)

We use social media to get real time information to our stakeholders and explain why the work of the NDARNG is important.

Another component of the 116th PAD's mission is the archiving of our State and Federal missions and operations. One example is our involvement in the National Guard Bureau's State Partnership Program with countries like the Togolese Republic in west Africa. By efforts such as these, we are able to use stories and photos to remind our Soldiers and their families that what they are doing truly matters.

Maj. Shawn Markovic, 68th Troop Command, meets with village elders in the Kossi Kope region of Togo on March 20, 2019. The purpose of the meeting was to inform them of a first responder flood exercise occurring near their village the following day. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Thea Jorgensen, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

Another component of the mission is to showcase the incredible things our Guard members have accomplished in support of their communities in times of emergencies. Whether it's supporting mobile testing in a global pandemic, or assisting local authorities in their fight with flooding, we are responsible for documenting important moments.

Sgt. Ethan Micek, right, 957th Engineer Company, and Pvt. Jerome Sahli, 1st Battalion 188th Air Defense Artillery, work as data collectors at the COVID-19 mobile testing site at the N.D. State Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. on June 24, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

We are tasked with creating content that connects the NDNG with the world. For us this means capturing a moment in time that will live forever. From recording Soldiers during a 12-mile ruck march, to capturing photos during a return from deployment; it is an honor to do this job. Being in the PAD is about taking pride in the work that we do while showcasing the things that make our organization special. To be responsible for such a task requires a great deal of commitment. Overcoming a personal fear of heights or water to get the perfect photo is a small price to pay to tell such a story.

We also have the inherently difficult task of convincing srevice members to stand in front of a video camera for an interview. We are grateful to those who do. Their voices and perspectives are critically needed in telling the ndng story.

Sgt. Chase Bode, 816th Military Police Company, is interviewed by Sgt. Michaela Granger, 116th Public Affairs Detachment, at the COVID-19 mobile testing site in Jamestown, N.D. on June 18, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

If you ask anyone who has served in the 116th PAD about their time in the unit, they will say that it is one of most full-filling job in the military.

164th Regional Training Institute Mission Continues thru Pandemic

By MAJ. Chance D. Schaffner, 164th REG RTI OIC/QA

The N.D. National Guard’s 164th Regional Training Institute (RTI-ND) at Camp Grafton Training Center, near Devils Lake, N.D., has not allowed the COVID 19 pandemic to slow its strategic march forward. In adapting to a changing environment, the RTI-ND has postured itself to supporting immediate and future training needs of the Army. As initial shock set into the nation in mid-March and classrooms went empty in May, the staff continued planning restart procedures to receive students in a safe manner.

Photo of the main building of the N.D. National Guard’s 164th Regional Training Institute (RTI-ND) at Camp Grafton Training Center, near Devils Lake. The institute's French moto "Je Suis Pret", or "I am Ready", is depicted above the main doors.

During the pandemic, the instructors have kept their engineer technical skills sharp by tackling tasks that improved Camp Grafton Training Center in quality of life and training area development such as the Richie Bridge Park and constructing eight-plexs housing units. Instructors also used this time to review new courseware.

Non-commissioned officer students of the 12H30 Advanced Leader course (vertical construction supervisor) are shingling an eight-plex building scheduled to be used as basic officer quarters. All students in class 008-20 (16 Soldiers) tested negative for COVID-19. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Dave Webber, 164th Regional Training Institute).

COVID Restart Plan: RTI-ND worked with their TASS (Total Army School System) team representative to reschedule courses later in Fiscal Year 2020. Thirty-four classes were affected by the stop movement from 16 March to 30 June while five courses were conducted with N.D. Army Guard students in courses that were most needed. This allowed instructors to stay engaged and helped ensure Soldiers were current on their PME (Professional Military Education) and qualified in their MOS’s. Five other Courses were consolidated with follow on classes while seventeen courses were rescheduled for Fiscal Year 2020’s 4th quarter. Only six courses were actually cancelled. The RTI-ND has maintained a continuous operational cycle preparing for students throughout the Army, prepared for its formal TRADOC and Engineer Proponent’s Army Enterprise Accreditation Standards (AEAS) Evaluation, Command Maintenance Disciple Program (CMDP) Inspection, all while welcoming a new commander and commandant. In light of COVID-19, the 164th RTI-ND also instituted facility wide testing for all incoming students to ensure health and readiness remain at the forefront of operations. RTI-ND passed its TRADOC and Engineer Proponent Virtual Accreditation inspections with 98.4% and 99.5% grades, respectfully, and passed its CMDP with 97.5% rating.

Engineer Captains Career Course to support the US Army backlog: The Department of Defense’s Stop Movement Order impacted Army courses to include the Reserve Engineer Captains Career Course (R-ECCC) taught at the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood. The Engineer School turned to the RTI-ND to support and assist in hosting the R-ECCC thanks to the RTI-ND’s past successes with this course in 2013-2014.

Always ready to accept new missions demonstrates the RTI-ND’s agility to surge in support of Army requirements.

Members of Officer Candidate Class 64, OC Ryan Kamrowski, left, and OC Trevor Kleineschay, navigate the land navigation course on June 4, 2020 at the Camp Grafton Training Center.

The Lines of Communication Bridge (LOC-B) Development: LOC-B has been waiting to be officially adopted by the U.S. Army since it was initially proposed prior to the Global War on Terrorism. RTI-ND leaned forward in 2016 developing a bridge training park that allows units to train with all the bridges in the U.S. Army inventory.

What developed from an initial training location for the Bailey Bridge and Dry Support Bridge, was improved to allow Improved Ribbon Bridge (IRB) and Combat Bridge Boat water training, and the yet to be fielded Dry Gap Bridge with the construction of permanent abutments. This training area is the only location outside of the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood (FLW), Mo., with the capability of training all types of bridging units. All work up to this point has been completed by troop construction, utilized as a training aid for construction engineer Soldiers, saving taxpayers money.

Sgt. 1st Class Jose Figueroa-Diaz, an instructor with the 164th Regional Training Institute, places rip rap rocks with a Hydraulic Excavator (HYEX) on June 11, 2020 near the boat launch pads at Richie Slough. The rocks help prevent erosion.

Increasing Capacity: In an effort to continually maintain relevance, the RTI-ND systematically immerses its students into real Operating Environments, that they will find themselves into, while providing a product that will support the Army and the NDARNG. The RTI-ND provided its students real world experience and expertise with assisting in the construction of eight-plex house units, which in turn increased RTI-ND student lodging capacity. Other examples are students surveying the RV park under construction and work on the emerging Wet Gap Bridge crossing for the LOC-B training site.

Strategic Growth: RTI-ND also increased its ability to train Technical Engineer Specialists (MOST 12T) by adding the 12T-level 30 and 40 courses to the curriculum.

The RTI-ND is the only Army school that conducts all three-level courses for Technical Engineer Supervisors. This doubles of training 12T Soldiers across the Army.

A Student of 12T10 (Technical Engineer Specialist) Class 006-19, Military Occupation Skill Training (MOST), works with survey instruments on Aug. 2, 2019 at Camp Grafton Training Center. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tyler Rupp, 164th Regional Training Institute).

Conversion of training dollars into classroom upgrades: Identified as deficient in creating a best learning environment for Soldiers, the pause of full-time classes at RTI-ND has created an opportunity to reallocate dollars that were originally projected in other areas and not used, RTI-ND seized the opportunity to eliminate this deficiency. Through contracting, RTI-ND has planned and designed the upgrade of all of its classrooms to meet TRADOC XXI Institutional requirements.

The RTI-ND has proved its resiliency by not allowing the COVID 19 pandemic to stop overall progress. Utilizing its position as an Engineer subject matter experts, or SME, the RTI-ND’s safe and effective restart of Institutional Operations is another reason RTI-ND is a leader among Army training institutions.

The RTI-ND was able reschedule 90% of the courses affected by COVID-19 while posturing itself for additional mission requirements in support of the Army. As a three-time recipient of the Institute of Excellence and the Army Superior Unit Award, RTI-ND will continue to adapt and move forward large in part due to its culture to continuously strive for excellence.

The RTI-ND's comprehensive restart plan was so innovative it has received requests from other institutions and organizations to help develop their own restart plans.

1st Sgt. Brad Bergeron briefs incoming students in the RTI theater on July 6, 2020. The students from across the Army force structure were enrolled in various classes at the RTI-ND. The students were socially distanced in accordance to CDC and the N.D. Department of Health's guidelines and all are tested for COVID-19 before beginning classes. (National Guard photo by Maj. Chance Schaffner, 164th Regional Training Institute)

Keeping Communities Connected Through Music

By Sgt. Taryn K. Benton, 188th Army Band

The 188th Army Band’s Jazz band performs “Bringin’ Down the House” at the summer concert in Minot, N.D. on July 19, 2020.

The 188th Army Band provided outstanding musical support to their fellow Soldiers and to the communities of North Dakota in 2020 despite the limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The unit adapted to N.D. Smart Restart guidelines to resume their training and operations. Continuing their rich tradition of service, the 188th AB used music to bring people together during a time of isolation and uncertainty.

“Music resonates with people in ways that nothing else can, Even when our worlds are shattered, music can speak straight to the soul and bring hope and healing and peace.” - Sgt. David Hathaway, 188th Ab.

Facemasks and social distancing rules were followed on drill weekends. The unit installed several hand sanitizing stations and frequently disinfected commonly touched surfaces. In order to maintain social distance and minimize the potential spread of the virus, the 188th AB rehearsed on the drill floor instead of the smaller concert band room.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Landman presents Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Schwind a shadow box displaying her awards and other items from her career during her retirement ceremony at weekend training of the 188th Army Band on July 17, 2020 at the Fargo Armed Forces Reserve Center. Schwind served with the North Dakota Army National Guard for over 20 years. (National Guard photo by Sgt. Taryn Benton, 188th Army Band)

Utilizing safe practices allowed the 188th AB to bring hope and live music back to North Dakota. The band held socially distanced, outdoor concerts and the public was encouraged to use CDC recommended safe practices, such as bringing their own chairs and distancing themselves from each other. Livestreaming was also offered at these events, letting people who couldn’t attend for any reason, experience the band’s performances. This option gave the unit the ability to connect to their community, even in a time of doubt and social distancing. Moving forward, the 188 AB will look to continue to build on these digitally-centric avenues through Social Media and beyond.

Follow us on Facebook: @188AB - Instagram: @188thab

"The Deuce" at Annual Training

by Sgt. Jacques Junior Chapusette, 3662 Support Maintenance Company

The 3662nd Support Maintenance Company (SMC), nicknamed the "Deuce" is a one of a kind specialized maintenance unit assigned to the N.D. Army National Guard. The Deuce is comprised of a diverse mix of many different MOS’s. Sections include auto mechanic, armament and electronics, ground support equipment tech and a maintenance control team, all with unique and specialized capabilities.

The unit conducted this year’s annual training (AT) from July 11 to 25, 2020 at the Sustainment Training Center (STC) located at the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center (CDJMTC) in Johnston, Iowa. The focus was to provide Soldiers the opportunity to develop additional skills within their MOS, while experiencing real world equipment faults during projects and diagnosing issues. Despite the complications, logistic and readiness obstacles created due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 3662nd SMC was able to travel to the STC and successfully accomplish their training goals.

This year, leadership developed extra precautionary measures in response to COVID-19 to ensure Soldiers’ health and well-being. Prior to travel, all Soldiers were tested and issued new personal protection masks. Soldiers also received a focused briefing on how to avoid the spread of the virus.

Changes were made to their original transportation plans by adding additional vehicles to help maintain social distancing. Once arriving at Camp Dodge, 3662nd SMC Soldiers were housed in open bay barracks but at 50% capacity. Special COVID-19 considerations were also taken for meals in the mess hall, bathrooms and other areas.

3662nd Soldiers were supplied with all the required facilities, equipment, personnel and logistical support to conduct training while at the STC. Instructors focused on providing vigorous teaching resources and skills to the 3662nd SMC. The shops at the are very modern containing advanced equipment. The unit didn’t need to bring any equipment or tools because they were all available at the STC.

A typical training day consisted of classroom instruction and mentoring by the STC staff followed by hands-on experience in the shop and field. Soldiers preformed maintenance on a variety of equipment. This offered new Soldiers the opportunity to diagnose real world faults and issues with unserviceable parts and components. Experienced auto mechanics and electronics technicians were provided the opportunity to expand their skills by working on equipment that the N.D. National Guard does not have in its inventory.

The maintenance control section supported these missions by processing work orders and ordering parts. When parts were not available for order the allied trades section was able to hone their welding and fabrication skills to create the needed parts.

The service vehicle recovery team simulated real-world missions by retrieving disabled vehicles in the field and bringing them back to the shop.

In summary, despite the COVID-19 challenges, Soldiers of the 3662nd SMC were able to enhance their skills, improve their teamwork and gain invaluable experience, ensuring they are prepared to execute their wartime missions.

81st Civil Support Team - A Critical Asset

by Sgt. Michaela C.P. Granger, 116th Public Affairs Detachment

The North Dakota National Guard’s 81st Civil Support Team (CST) is a homeland defense unit comprised of 22 Soldiers and Airmen specializing in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) analysis for responding to incidents across the state, region, and nation. The mission of the 81st CST is to identify CBRN incidents, counter weapons of mass destruction, assist during natural disasters, and to protect the people of N.D. and the nation. Federal, state, local, and civil agencies can turn to the unit for support in any of the areas they specialize in. They undergo hundreds of hours of training every year to prepare themselves to respond to emergencies.

In March the first cases of the COVID-19 were confirmed in North Dakota. During early state-wide testing missions the N.D. Department of Health’s (NDDoH) Microbiology Lab struggled to handle the increasing testing needs of the state, averaging less than 200 COVID-19 tests processed per day. However, over the years the CST cultivated a working relationship with the NDDoH, which made for an easier response to COVID-19.

Maj. Preston Schaffner, of the 81st Civil Support Team, takes a moment to rest before administering more COVID-19 tests at the mobile testing site at the Fire Hall in New Town, N.D. on July 13, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

“We’ve known these people for several years and we’ve built those relationships. It’s easy to step in and work side-by-side with them because we’ve already done it in many situations.” - Lt. Col. Pat Flanagan, Commander of the 81st CST.

The N.D. National Guard embedded Soldiers in the laboratory to assist their personnel. The 81st CST trained new laboratory technicians, increasing the lab’s capacity to process from 200 to nearly 5,000 tests per day. The CST worked with the Governor’s office to develop a predictability model, helping to create strategies combating COVID-19 as the impact grew. This included a plan for weekly testing of employees and residents of the state’s long term care facilities. Working with their partners in the N.D. Department of Emergency Services (NDDES), the 81st CST also helped to develop the presidential declaration ensuring North Dakota received the federal funding necessary to support the state’s countermeasures to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Maj. Aaron Norgaard, medical operations officer for the 81st CST and National Guard liaison to the N.D. Department of Health (NDDoH) is interviewed by KX News reporter Renee Cooper on April 3, 2020 at the NDDoH lab in Bismarck. (National Guard photo by Bill Prokopyk, N.D. Public Affairs Office)

In April, the 81st CST was the first team called out to the pilot mass testing site in Amidon, North Dakota. “We had no idea what to expect or what the limitations of the pilot site would be. The first several testing sites used paper forms to process the demographic information collected from the public. The initial structure and equipment of the first sites, along with challenges of dealing with unpredictable spring weather, complicated the process to collect samples and relay the necessary information to the state laboratory,” said Flanagan.

Lt. Col. Patrick Flanagan, commander of the 81st Civil Support Team, talks with Scott Davis, Executive Director of the N.D. Indian Affairs Commission at a mobile COVID-19 testing event on May 21, 2020 at the Dakota Magic Casino. (National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment)

As the mission grew, other units were activated to support the mobile testing missions. Led by the 81st CST, the sites evolved over the next three months, moving to an electronic format to collect information, applying the right amount of personnel to each lane of cars to ensure smooth progression, and making sure the testing area was adequate so overflow would not obstruct traffic and cause safety hazards. Now, instead of taking roughly six hours to test around 200 people, those numbers can be reached within an hour. The CST’s goal was to assist in setting the state up for success by establishing efficient operating procedures to allow for local agencies to take over the set up and the management of the sites in the future.

According to Capt. Laura Schmidt, 81st CST member, “hundreds of hours of training each year made us ready to respond to emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. The support we provide sets up other state agencies for success, strengthening the state’s knowledge and resources with the expertise and training of the 81st CST. Although COVID-19 is not a biological weapon, it is a biological disease, and our specialty in handling biological substances makes us efficient in collecting and handling testing samples. Our capabilities were essential in the initial stages of developing how testing sites were run.”

For Capt. Schmidt, the work is rewarding and gratifying. Being able to interact with Soldiers from other units and the public is one of the best parts of her job as a member of the CST. With long hours and a lot of time spent away from family, it’s not an easy job. However, she is proud to wear the N.D. National Guard patch and the U.S. Army uniform.

Cpt. Laura Schmidt, survey team leader for the 81st Civil Support Team, prepares Covid-19 testing kits at the COVID-19 mobile testing site inside the Fire Hall in New Town, N.D. on July 13, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brett Miller, 116th Public Affairs Detachment/Released)

The distinct capabilities of the 81st CST made them ideal candidates to be the first unit activated for the state’s response against the COVID-19 pandemic. Lt. Col. Flanagan credits the effectiveness of the unit to the duality of the skills that each member brings to the team and to the understanding of the unit’s capabilities by the leadership of the N.D. National Guard.

“I think the great thing about our civil support team is we’ve had long term support from our senior leaders in the state and they understand what our mission is and what the capabilities of all the people on the team are. They trust us to do our job and it’s humbling we’ve been given the opportunity to do this.” - Lt. Col. Flanagan

With Lt. Col. Flanagan’s background as an epidemiologist for the state, he understands the process of diseases very well. Maj. Waylon Tomac, 81st CST deputy commander, a former science officer, has a detailed background in healthcare. The current science officer, 1st Lt. Thomas Hanson, has a similar background.

The 81st CST is unique because the extra skills and knowledge of the three former science officers enhance the training and skillsets of the other 19 Soldiers and Airmen in the unit. The CST has proven to be a great asset to the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is why we wear the uniform,” said Lt. Col. Flanagan. The 81st CST is a highly trained, specialized unit that is ready to serve their state and nation when called upon.

N.D. National Guard During the Korean War

by Lt. Col. (retired) Shirley J. Olgeirson, NDNG Historian

Seventy-five years ago, North Dakota Army National Guard Soldiers were arriving home from both sides of the globe. The 188th and 957th Field Artillery Battalions celebrated victory against a diabolical dictator and the 164th Infantry Regiment helped defeat an evil emperor. A mere five years later, many of the same Soldiers were again federalized for the “Korean Conflict”.

By September 1950, the 231st Engineer Battalion, from Grand Forks, Bottineau, Minot, and Cavalier, had been federalized and stationed at Ft Lewis, WA. A year later, the Battalion was sent to Nevada to begin construction on Camp Desert Rock Nevada Test Site, including fortifications at atomic test sites for explosions that began in October 1951. Personnel assigned to the camp were provided booklets that explained the importance of secrecy and were prohibited from discussing the tests, the military maneuvers, or any effects they felt from the tests. Troops kept their secrets well, as little is known about the experiences of the 231st Engineers at the camp.

In January, 1951, the 164th Infantry Regiment and the 188th Field Artillery Battalion were ordered to Active Military Service with the 47th “Viking” Division, Minnesota, and traveled by train to Camp Rucker, Alabama. There, they trained Soldiers and units in infantry and artillery skills. North Dakotans were ordered to serve overseas as replacements, based on the needs of the active Army units fighting in Korea. 164th Infantry Regiment’s Soldiers came from units in Bismarck, Fargo, Grafton, Rugby, Williston, Carrington, Valley City, Jamestown, Wahpeton, Dickinson, Hillsboro, Grand Forks, Hettinger, Linton, Cando, Edgeley, Mott, Harvey, Oakes, and Devils Lake. 188th Field Artillery Battalion units were located in Mandan, Lisbon, Minot, Jamestown, Wishek, and Grand Forks.

The Fargo-based 178th Fighter Squadron and the 178th Weather Station (Type A), were called to active duty on April 1, 1951. Only 5 years old at the time, the 178th was assigned to Moody Air Force Base (AFB), near Valdosta, Ga., as part of the Strategic Air Command. Later the units moved to George AFB, Near Victorville, Calif., as part of the Tactical Air Command, flying F-51 Mustangs to augment the air defenses of the United States. Individuals served in Korea, one of whom was retired Maj. Gen. Alexander P. Macdonald, who flew 36 combat missions. The 178th Fighter-Bomber Squadron was released from active duty on January 1, 1953 and was redesignated the 178th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The Runway Alert program began August, 1954 in Fargo as the squadron kept two F-51D Mustangs on alert status 14 hours a day.

N.D. Air National Guard Airmen fuel and perform pre-flight maintenance on a F-51 Mustang aircraft at the air base in Fargo, N.D.

A United Force & N.D. Guard Family

By Mr. Robert E. Roehrich, NDNG Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager

Greetings to those who wear the uniform, past and present, and to those who serve and have served in a civilian capacity for our organization, all family members, and all the extended family and friends of the N.D. National Guard. So far, 2020 has been a roller coaster ride that will be branded into our memories as a defining period of time. Soon we will ask each other questions like where you were “when the Twin Towers fell on 911”, or “the assassination of President Kennedy?” from COVID-19, completely revolutionizing how we do business in the NDNG. From civil unrest and racial tensions within our country, we have been challenged to re-evaluate the way we operate our day-to-day business. We also took a deep look at our internal messaging and inclusion strategies. Though we’d like to think that we are flawless in many areas, it is simply impossible to be perfect all the time. However, we are always looking for opportunities to improve our organization for those we serve.

I wanted to inform our extended N.D. National Guard Family about the progress made by the N.D. National Guard in the areas of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I) during the past year. To begin with, our executive leadership team saw a need for the realignment of our ED&I committee to ensure it could regain the momentum needed to operate effectively in today’s workplace.

In 2019, the old ED&I committee proposed to realign to an executive committee chaired by the N.D. National Guard’s deputy adjutant general. Later a working group for each component, the N.D. Army Guard and Air National Guard, was established. These working groups would provide better representation of our working staff at all levels within our agency for most of Fiscal Year 2020. This change helped our agency rebrand our ED&I messaging strategies with a grassroots approach of embracing and recognizing the best practices. This also allowed us to find barriers in our organization that may negatively impact a demographic group.

Recently our agency was afforded the opportunity to hold various forms of federal observances to help employees increase their cultural competency while learning about people of different backgrounds. We also had opportunities to celebrate our own unique attributes, to include a chance to showcase our own culture, heritage, different abilities, religious backgrounds, regional heritage and lifestyle.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed annually in the United States from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. This is a WWII-era poster.

Be sure to check your unconscious bias at the door: I believe education is our most powerful tool in combating negative “Unconscious Bias” – an inherent or learned stereotype about people that everyone forms without realizing it. These biases can also be social stereotypes about an individual, group or institution. They can be negative or non-negative.

So what actually forms in your mind when you hear diversity and inclusion? There is a common misconception (bias) that diversity is only related to race, color or gender. For example, one way diversity may be achieved is to assemble group of people who hail from different backgrounds, hold dissimilar values, observe various religions, and are raised in different cultures. These are just a few of the many factors that make us different from one another. The goal of the ED&I program is to create an environment where anyone, regardless of differences, can thrive and excel to the best of their abilities in the job they were hired to do. Our organization is deeply committed to ED&I practices.

Everyone who works for the NDNG has opportunities to attend professional development, pursue career advancement, continue advanced education, utilize an individualized development plan, attend training, use mentor/mentee relationships, etc. Our goal is to help employees recognize these opportunities exist.

Communication from the individual with his/her supervisor is a crucial step in recognizing opportunities. Our human capital is our most vital resource. Without them we could not accomplish our daily tasks and complete our missions at the high-level of success enjoyed by our organization since its inception. Our personnel have been critical in our success to support our communities and state during this historic response to the COVID pandemic.

Whether you are civilian, Army, or Air (current, former, or even family members) – we thank you for all of your sacrifices this year throughout these unique times in our country and we thank you in advance for your support in the future. Diversity and Inclusion are about giving value to every human being, no matter what our differences might be.

N.D.’s Human Service Centers Now In-State TRICARE Providers

By Mrs. Michelle A. Gauvin-Panos, ND Cares Executive Director

Military retirees and active service members have increased access to behavioral health services for themselves and their Families. As of February 2020, the N.D. Department of Human Services’ regional human service centers are now in-state TRICARE providers. This eliminates the need for individuals to get prior authorization before receiving vital behavioral health services at the centers or one of their four satellite clinics or 33 outreach sites in the state. Why is this important? According to North Dakota military data from 2014 through 2018, on average, 669 veterans or individuals who served in the military were treated at the human service centers. Of those, 60% received behavioral health services and either needed prior authorizations, used other insurance or paid out-of-pocket for services.

TRICARE coverage has always been accepted at our human service centers, but prior authorization was needed because the human service centers were considered out-of-network providers, now, individuals with TRICARE coverage are able to receive services sooner without going through the prior authorization process.” - Jeff Stenseth - Department’s field services operations officer

The Regional Human Service Centers are located in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Minot and Williston with satellite clinics in Graton, Rolla, Valley City and the Off Main location in Fargo. Each offers behavioral health services focused on chronic disease management and behavioral health crises and primarily serve individuals with chronic, serious mental illness and substance use disorders, including pregnant women and others who use intravenous drugs. The centers also offer walk-in behavioral health assessments and triage services during open access hours and crisis walk-in support is always welcome during business hours. Individuals can also access confidential crisis phone lines answered 24-7.

Recently, tele-health services have expanded to better serve people where they live. In 2018 ND Cares, the N.D. National Guard and the N.D. Department of Human Services collaborated with TRICARE to establish the human service centers as in-network TRICARE providers. Since March 1, 2019, the human service centers provided billed services to 97 individuals with TRICARE coverage. To find services within North Dakota, visit the Regional Human Service Centers. More information about mental health and substance use disorder care can be found on covered treatments on the TRICARE website.

By Mr. Delton Steele, North Dakota ESGR State Chair

On behalf of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), I am excited and honored to continue as the State Chair of ESGR in North Dakota. In this capacity, I’ve met many of our great National Guard and Reserve members from across the state. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet many very patriotic and supportive employers that employ our wonderful Guard and Reserve members. As you may know, ESGR was created back in 1972 by the Department of Defense to create an organization to essentially be the “liaison” between our reserve component military members and their civilian employers. The ESGR mission is to develop and promote supportive work environments for service members in the reserve components through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. ESGR also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between the Service members and their employers. One of our main goals is that “all employers support and value the employment of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States and its territories, thereby increasing the readiness of the Reserve Components”.

As a Guard or Reserve Service member, I would ask that you consider nominating your employer for one of our awards. These include the Patriot Award, an Above and Beyond Award, or even ESGR’s most prestigious award, the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. You can find additional information on awards and nominate your employer online by visiting our website at ESGR.mil. The 2021 Freedom Award nomination season begins Oct. 1, 2020.

Any of our great ESGR volunteers would happy to provide guidance related to these various levels of recognition. You can also reach out to me or our full time staff member, Janette Fetch at 701-333-2057. Thank you and your families for all of the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice you make to serve our state and nation.

Gratefully, your ESGR State Chair, Delton Steele

N.D. Veterans Cemetery Update

By Mrs. Pamela Helbing-Schafer, Director North Dakota Veterans Cemetery

The N.D. Veteran's Cemetery was established by an act of the 1989 N.D. Legislative Assembly. The cemetery was opened in 1992, and is operated by the office of the adjutant general of North Dakota. It is located 6.5 miles south of Mandan on Highway 1806 on a 70 acre tract of land near Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. This cemetery is dedicated to the men and women who have served this state and nation with distinction and honor. Today interments of military members and their dependents number 9,522. Of these 69% are male and 31% are female. Solders lead interments with 3,942 (62%) followed by Sailors 1,315 (21%), Airmen 732 (12%), Marines 349 (5%), and members of the Coast Guard 24 (less than 1%). According to the director, Pam Helbling-Schafer, the cemetery has enough space available for the next 23 years.

Besides the annual Memorial Day ceremony hosted by the N.D. National Guard, the cemetery hosts about 10 funerals and interment services every week. Within the past year, two N.D. Sailors who were killed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 were interred. For more information to include eligibility for burial, cost, regulations and more, please chick to visit the N.D. Veterans Cemetery website.

A Naval Honor Detachment folds a U.S. Flag over the cremated remains of Navy Fireman 2nd Class Albert Renner on Sept. 18, 2020 at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery. Renner was killed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. His remains were recently identified.

These statistics indicate the numbers of War Service Veterans buried at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery.

Soldiers of the N.D. National Guard Funeral Honors stand ready to fire rifle volleys in honor of Navy Fireman 2nd Class Albert Renner on Sept. 18, 2020 at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery. The firing detachment was commanded by a Soldier standing to the rear.

Navy Funeral Honors prepare to fold the U.S. Flag draped over the casket of Radioman 2nd Class Floyd A. Wells at the N.D. Veterans Cemetery on Oct. 1, 2019. Wells was killed on Dec. 7, 1941 when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Navy fleet docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

N.D. National Guard’s Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jon Wymer renders prayers and remarks during Radioman 2nd Class Floyd A. Wells' interment, Oct. 1, 2019. Wells was killed on Dec. 7, 1941 when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked the U.S. Navy fleet docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. His remains were identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in 2019.

Chaplain's Corner

The Pursuit of Happiness

By Chaplain (Maj.) Tim Stout - 131st Military Police Battalion

The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our nation was founded on this truth. As a result of this our nation does not tend to fight wars for conquest or to simply defeat our enemies; instead we fight primarily to defend these rights. The first two of the “unalienable rights” are simple to understand, Life and Liberty, but what about that third one. What is Happiness? And why is only the pursuit of happiness guaranteed as a right? We look at our nation today, a strange disease running rampant and leading to the deaths of thousands, civil unrest and racism causing chaos in our streets, political rivalries causing our government to seem ineffective, economic hardships as a result of these, and we may wonder how anyone could be truly happy.

Perhaps the problem is with the word, “happiness.” With its root word ‘hap’, many understand “happiness” to be something that happens to us, something we have little or no control over. This is not a new idea. The ancient Greeks understood happiness to be in the hands of the fates, or the gods, and that it was either granted to humans, or, far more likely, it was denied. However, even then some of the philosophers saw through this. Some of them believed that happiness was something we could achieve by our attitude toward life. One group suggested that happiness could be achieved by pursuing physical and emotional pleasure, while another thought that happiness depended more on one’s attitude toward the things that happened beyond our control. A third group suggested that happiness was most likely achieved through a life of virtue, that pleasure could be found in a life lived for the benefit of others.

This was the intent of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, and most of our founding leaders, understood that the happiest people were those who lived not only for their own selfish pleasure, but for the well-being of others. “Virtue” is not a popular word these days, and so may not be more useful than “happiness,” since it is not well understood. The Army used another word for helping Soldiers achieve success in their professions, “values.” Most of us still remember Army Values, based on the acronym, LDRSHIP (it seems that correct spelling was not an essential part of the program). The values, or virtues of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage, defined what it meant to be a good Soldier. Jefferson would go further and suggest that the pursuit of such a virtuous life would not only make the Soldier successful, but happy, and satisfied with life. Those who live such a life also tend to be far more resilient (another popular term). But even in this there are some serious problems. As hard as we might try, we do not always live up to our values, and when we do not, we feel guilty, not happy. Sometimes we are not as loyal as we should be, do not always do our duty, fail to respect others, and are selfish. St. Paul stated, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Rom. 7:19 ESV) If St. Paul, one of the Fathers of the Church, could not succeed at leading a fully virtuous life, what hope is there for the rest of us?

This is precisely the question nearly all religious faiths strive to answer in various ways. From my own faith perspective, for example, there is hope, not by our own efforts, which most often fall far short, but by the work of Jesus Christ. His death and resurrection offer forgiveness for our failings, the evil that we do not want to do, and the hope that He will give us success, even when we fail. His forgiveness takes away the guilt and paves the way toward true joy, ultimate happiness. Even more, He promises that through the hardships of life, when life does not seem at all fair or just, He teaches us to live a virtuous life, and through virtue we find happiness, so there is even joy in deep pain and suffering.

Finally, it is important to remember that the Declaration of Independence does not state that these rights are given to us by the government, but by our Creator. Government cannot give us these rights, but good government should always seek to defend and protect them. But in the end, it is not the virtue of others that leads to your happiness, but your own. LDRSHIP!

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