Defense Secretary Mark Esper recently presented the National Guard Bureau with its first Joint Meritorious Unit Award for outstanding service from June 1, 2017, to Dec. 1, 2018.
During that time, NGB helped coordinate response efforts for 13 named hurricanes or tropical storms, 42 wildfires, 39 floods, 23 winter storms, two tornadoes, an earthquake and a volcanic eruption.
“The NGB’s extraordinary planning and support of disaster response over this extended period were truly exceptional,” said Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, the NGB chief.
While NGB’s planning efforts contributed to more rapid and unified responses, Hokanson stressed it was Guard soldiers and airmen who made it possible.
“The efforts of our National Guard team across the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia helped save lives, mitigate damage to communities, and prevent unnecessary suffering,” he said. “Everyone involved in these response missions should be deeply proud of their service.”
Hokanson also said families of Guard members played an important role.
“Their support makes our service possible,” he insisted.
This year has been historically busy for Guard members, who have supported COVID-19, civil disturbance, wildfires and hurricane response efforts. In early June, nearly 120,000 Guardsmen were on duty across the globe, including a record 86,367 on domestic missions.
Those figures waned only somewhat over the summer. On Sept. 28, 61,000 were on duty worldwide, with 31,000 on domestic missions that ranged from supporting state authorities with the COVID-19 response to helping law enforcement bring calm to some cities to assisting firefighters battle a record wildfire season.
In fiscal 2020, Guard soldiers and airmen provided more than 8.4 million man-days (one work day per individual) in support of domestic operations. The amount is double what it was for fiscal 2018 and 2019 combined.
“As the National Guard continues to respond in support of our communities, states and nation, I hope this award is a reminder of what we as a Guard and we as a nation can overcome with determination, dedication, teamwork and resolve,” Hokanson said.