11 by Gregory Giaconelli ✪ COMMUNITY National Guard comes to the call in Houston H urricane Harvey has come and left its mark in Houston, Texas, prompt- ing tens of thousands of National Guard members to spring into action to help in the relief effort. This has been a nationwide contribution from multiple government organizations to rescue those who were affected by the storm, which inflicted a combination of dangerous winds and heavy rain, causing widespread devastation. The National Guard exist in all 50 states. Whether called upon from the local state governor or the President of the United States, they are always ready and able to help. They respond to natural disasters and national emergencies, helping communities improve their quality of life in times of need. They save lives, protect property and restore normalcy. The New Jersey National Guard has more than 8,300 members and consists of both the Army Guard and the Air Guard. Their deployments are ongoing due to the current situations that plague our society locally and worldwide. Recently, New Jersey governor Chris Christie deployed a team of New Jersey National Guard airborne search-and-rescue experts to head down to Texas and lend a hand to the flood ravaged city of Houston. Two Army National Guard UH-60 “Black Hawk” helicopters and the crew members, along with four Air National Guard Tactical Air Control Party specialists volunteered for the mission. While there, the Guard’s mission was to evacuate survivors as well as many animals and bring them to safety. The New Jersey National Guard has 200 more members on standby if called upon to assist in recovery within the weeks ahead. Air Guard Master Sgt. Chris Donohue was quoted as saying: “We’re hoping to do some good down there. It’s a rewarding mission to be able to help people in America.” New Jersey’s Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue had also sent some of its members to the aid of Houston, Texas. New Jersey State Police Sgt. Christian Dreyer, coordinator of the Task Force, stated the dedication of these volunteer members is mind-boggling. They put their lives at risk and take away precious time from their families, all in the effort to help. The New York Air National Guard also sent members to help with the Hurricane Harvey disaster. Their members included rescue teams, maintenance and support staff, along with three rescue helicopters, one rescue plane, and boats. The 253rd Transportation Company from Cape May, New Jersey, equipped with high wheeled vehicles, will travel down south. These soldiers are highly trained men and women who have worked the front lines during major storms such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene. irma on the Heels of Harvey While contributions are being made in Houston, another hurricane is impacting the state of Florida and parts of the Caribbean. The New Jersey National Guard has already been deployed to help evacuate residents who are expected to be displaced by Hurricane Irma. Irma touched down in Florida devastating many cities within the Sunshine State and demolishing many islands within the Caribbean including the US. Virgin Islands. On September 14th, Brigadier General Michael Cuniff addressed the 108th Fighter Wing NJ Air National Guard before they deployed to the ravaged US Virgin Islands in support of relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. "I am very proud of our 108th Security Forces Airmen answering the call for our state mission and domestic operations. I know our Airmen will provide the necessary support to the people of the Virgin Islands in their time of need." said Cuniff. US Family Health Plan praises the dedicated volunteers of the National Guard, wishing them a safe and successful mission. SPOTLIGHT SPOTLIGHT