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National Guard
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The National Guard is the first military responder in all domestic emergencies.
The National Guard is the first military responder in all domestic emergencies.

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When the 1st Infantry Division headquarters deployed late last year, they brought with them about 100 Nebraska National Guard Soldiers as a part of a U.S. Army initiative to round out its active-duty division and corps headquarters elements during deployments.

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Retired National Guard members and Reservists will be granted veteran status for the first time, following Presidential approval of a much-haggled bill.

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"The National Guard's primary mission is to support the warfight of the Army and the Air Force," Gen. Joseph Lengyel said. "We secure the homeland, and we build partnerships, but we succeed in those missions because of our foremost mission – being ready to fight America's wars."

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"Just the capability of landing heavy on the snow is a unique operational capability that only the United States has - that only we have at this unit," said Col. Christian Sander, 109th Operations Group commander.

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“I never thought that I would be jumping into flood waters, but my training kicked in,” Spc. Shook, of the North Carolina National Guard, said. “All I knew was that I had to get to her and save her.”

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"If all a cadet sees is that they are being told what to do, that's not what this program is about," Jordan, a cadet from the Maryland National Guard's Freestate Academy, said. "It's about teaching you discipline, integrity and all that stuff." 

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Earlier this year 160 teens arrived at the Maryland National Guard's Freestate ChalleNGe Academy to begin a 17-month journey that for many will have lifelong effects. Follow their journey beginning with part one of this series below and come back next week for part two.

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Imagine almost 100 West Virginia militia men dressed in wool-felt hats and buckskin shirts -- emblazoned with the words, "Liberty or Death" -- marching over 600 miles from their homes to the outskirts of Boston in about three weeks in 1775...

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"My advice to other veterans is this: it is painful to reveal that you can't do it all on your own. However, when you are that low, the only place to go is up," Staff Sgt. Michael W. Hutcheson, of the South Carolina National Guard, said.

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"I am keenly aware of the historical significance of today's ceremony and am deeply grateful for the honor and recognition, but today's event should serve as an affirmation of faith in the American Dream," Brig. Gen. Lapthe C. Flora, of the Virginia National Guard, said. "The possibility in this great nation is boundless; the American Dream is real, only if you dare to pursue it with laser-focused, hard work and perseverance."
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