For immediate release:
Dec. 19, 2008
CW2 Patrick Daugherty
A Historic Deployment and Continuous Care for Veterans
The New Jersey Army National Guard crossed a major milestone this holiday season - the midway point of a historic deployment to Iraq.
The 2,900 Soldiers of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team reached the six-month mark in their yearlong tour the week before Christmas and continue to receive accolades from top commanders in Iraq for their dedication and professionalism.
Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, the adjutant general, recently returned from Iraq and reported that Multi-National Force Iraq Commander, Gen. Ray Odierno, a New Jersey native, calls the 50th IBCT "my home boys.
"From him, that's the highest compliment," Rieth said. "Gen. Odierno recognizes the success the coalition is having in Iraq has much to do with the mission set being accomplished by the Jersey Guard."
The 50th IBCT has sole responsibility for the humane treatment of nearly 20,000 detainees as well as the training for Iraq's future prison guards. The brigade will also oversee the delicate transfer of the country's two main detention centers and the International Zone in Baghdad to the Iraqi government at the end of their tour.
As the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs continues to support the New Jersey National Guard's largest deployment since World War II, the department also continues to make sure these Soldiers and all veterans will have the assistance they need when they return home.
- DMAVA remains a pioneer in the recognition and treatment of troops with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. New Jersey is one of only three states to treat service members with PTSD and the only one to assist their families as well. Since its launch in 2005, the Veterans Helpline has fielded more than 5,100 phone calls.
- DMAVA partnered this year with the Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma to launch a public outreach initiative specifically for veterans. The campaign, "Life Doesn't Have to Be a Battlefield" also trains mental health professionals to recognize and treat PTSD as well as Traumatic Brain Injury.
- DMAVA continues the work of the Yellow Ribbon Commission, which oversaw $1 million grants in FY2008 for service members and their families with financial needs created by a deployment.
The department also continues to be a leader in state efforts to reduce energy consumption, harnessing the power of the sun with solar panels at its facilities at Fort Dix and Lawrenceville. DMAVA plans to "go solar" at the National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt next year.
Finally, DMAVA oversaw the dedication of the long-awaited World War II Memorial on Veterans Day with a ceremony that drew more than 1,500 people, including many veterans of that war. The dedication of the $7.6 million memorial marked the culmination of nearly a decade of planning, fundraising and state government support.
"To see some of the great American patriots who served in that war with tears in their eyes at the dedication made every bit of effort worthwhile," Rieth said.