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By Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General - New Jersey Few things give me as much pleasure in life than welcoming back our hometown troops from overseas deployments. This June, however, it was a joy and relief to see the men and women of the 117th Reconnaissance Surveillance Targeting Acquisition (RSTA) and the 250th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB) returning from their extended tours in Iraq.

From that afternoon on a hot and humid Tuesday when our troops touched down and within hours embraced their loved ones…to the following Saturday’s official Welcome Home ceremony…I don’t think I stopped grinning that whole week (or sighing with relief).

Back in February, when State Command Sgt. Maj. Jerome Jenkins and I traveled to Iraq to visit our 117th RSTA and 250th BSB Soldiers, I remember standing in awe at the determination of these troops…accepting the unthinkable: a last-minute extension of an already year-long tour. “Disappointed, but not deterred” was how I described these Soldiers at that time. Their “can do” attitude amazed me back then…it amazes me still today.

In July, Governor Jon Corzine personally hosted a barbeque picnic for our returning Soldiers and Airmen. For the fourth time since taking office, Governor Corzine welcomed troops and family members to his official residence for a party…this time, a welcome home party. Burgers, music, games, entertainment…now this is how you say welcome home and thank you! Face-to-face and one-on-one. I hope all the military members and families that attended enjoyed the sunny funfilled day and realize how appreciated their sacrifices are.

Presently, smaller groups of New Jersey Soldiers and Airmen continue to rotate into Iraq and Afghanistan. From security forces to embedded trainers, our people continue to make a difference and show the true spirit of volunteerism. So much so that commanders have had to limit approval of individual volunteer assignments with future unit deployments looming on the horizon.

And that horizon is drawing closer. While we adjust to meet the challenges of the next couple of years, we will ensure that the New Jersey National Guard provides a trained and ready force to defend our nation. Trained, ready…and fit to fight!

A big part of staying fit to fight is keeping ourselves healthy and safe. We are in a dangerous business. We need to constantly be vigilant and keep safety foremost in our minds.

We’ve all seen examples of what the slightest bit of negligence can do to a sophisticated piece of equipment or – more importantly – how it can impact human lives. We cannot allow complacency or bad habits to infiltrate our work ethic. We owe this to ourselves, to our troops and to the families that support us. If you look around during any welcome home ceremony, you cannot miss the civilians – sometimes in embroidered jackets and flight caps – greeting our returning Soldiers and Airmen as if they were family. They are members of various veterans’ organizations. Having had the honor of attending a number of their national and regional conventions, I’ve seen firsthand the support that these groups give the men and women currently serving in uniform. These veterans’ organizations have always been staunch supporters of the Guard.

There is a symbiotic relationship that exists between military members and all veterans’ groups. Whether sending care packages to our deployed Soldiers and Airmen…donating items to DMAVA Memorial Homes and Vets Haven…or raising awareness of issues that impact us all…these organizations are there for us. And we should be there for them. As former brothers and sisters in arms, they have earned our respect…as patriotic citizens, they deserve our support.

Table of Contents
Volume 33 Number 3 Staff / Information
(c) 2007 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs