Col. Paul Drake (Ret.), Chief of Staff of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS), explains the importance of NGAUS and its role in achieving benefits and equipment for the National Guard.
Hello, I’m Colonel (retired) Paul Drake, Chief of Staff of the National Guard Association of the United States.
I’m speaking to you from the National Guard Memorial, a monument to all those who have served in the Guard. This building is also our association’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.
NGAUS, as we are known in Washington, was the nation’s first military association. We were formed in 1878 by then-militia officers to obtain better equipment and training by petitioning Congress for more resources.
One hundred forty-four years later, with a membership of nearly 45,000 current and former National Guard officers, we have the same mission - National Guard readiness.
Early on, the National Guard received only a small amount of money every year from the federal government. But the money wasn’t enough to pay for training requirements, let alone for retirement. There were no full-time personnel, there were no federal funds for armories. Additionally, the Guard was not recognized as the combat reserve of the Army and the Air Force.
As the Guard’s voice on Capitol Hill, NGAUS has made and continues to make a difference.
Today, almost every Guard facility, every piece of equipment, and every benefit is a product, in some way, of NGAUS advocacy.
But our job never seems to be complete.
Guardsmen train to the same standards as their active-component brothers and sisters. They fight shoulder to shoulder with them. Guardsman make the same sacrifices. But they often still don’t receive the same equipment, nor do they get the same benefits.
One of those benefits is health care. Guardsmen do receive medical coverage when they are deployed overseas, however, they have to provide their own at other times. This makes it difficult for them - and their families - to answer their state and nation’s call.
This continues to be one of our highest priorities.
Our agenda is set every year by our members. It’s a grassroots effort that starts in the 50 states, U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia, and is finalized at our annual national conference.
NGAUS today is what we have always been, the voice of National Guard officers nationwide. Their readiness is our single focus.