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Minnesota National Guard
From Mexico to Minnesota, Guardsman finds a new home

Minnesota National Guard ST PAUL, Minn- For one Minnesota National Guard Soldier, it was a meandering series of events that brought him from working nightclubs in Mexico City to chasing family and career obligations around the Midwest before finally becoming a full-time member of the Minnesota National Guard

With the goals of finishing his education and starting a family, Staff Sgt Cesar Garcia, the medical readiness non-commissioned officer for the Minnesota National Guard's 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, left his home country in 2000 He landed in Minnesota, where he attended Southwest Minnesota State University and earned his degree in communications, specializing in radio and television He then spent the next four years working with KARE11 in Golden Valley and CBS2 in Chicago, Ill, raising three kids along the way Once those stints in the television business ended, however, Garcia faced the reality that a career shift was on the horizon

Turning his career path on its head, Garcia committed himself to becoming a firefighter in Chicago By excelling throughout the application process, Garcia sat in the top five percent of his class of fellow applicants However, when veteran's preference points came down, Garcia just missed the cut

"I thought, 'what am I missing?'" Garcia said "Whatever traits that were getting those vets jobs, I wanted"

And with that, Garcia began taking a serious look at the Minnesota National Guard After making his decision, he chose to mirror his parents' careers - his father, a doctor, and his mother, a nurse, in Mexico City - by becoming a combat medic

Again, Garcia pushed himself and, after three years working in the Minnesota National Guard's Office of the State Surgeon, he submitted an application packet, and was eventually selected for, a medical readiness NCO, Active Guard/Reserve position with the 34th CAB For most people, the challenge of fighting for a job would have ended there, but as a Hispanic-American, Garcia had to continually fight the perception that he had been legitimately offered the job

"I believe in the best man for the job, which is why I got the job I have today," Garcia said "But there are people who think I'm here to meet diversity goals, and I feel the need to prove that I was selected because of my merits"

For Garcia, those merits include embracing his heritage He cited several examples of how being a Spanish-speaking Soldier has benefitted his unit, including in Croatia, where the similarities between the Italian-speaking Croatians and Garcia's Spanish allowed the two sides to understand one another And, in combat medic school, where the Spanish language's Latin roots helped Garcia understand derivative medical terms, he was able to grasp concepts more quickly and help his classmates to do the same

Garcia is now a United States citizen, and doesn't plan on returning to Mexico permanently anytime soon, but he does try to visit at least once a year to see family and friends For now he is concentrating on his family here in Minnesota, and believes he made the right career choice and shares that belief with others

"I encourage people to join the Guard," he said "It's one of the most diverse places to work"

March 4, 2014
by Sgt. 1st Class Ashlee Lolkus and Staff Sgt Patrick Loch
34th Infantry Division Public Affairs

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Minnesota National Guard leaders visit traveling tribute in Austin

Posted: 2018-05-22  10:16 AM
Traveling Wall AUSTIN, Minn. - A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was on display May 16-20, in Austin and leaders of the 347th Regional Support Group took the opportunity to visit during the event's closing ceremony.

The display, dubbed the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, was hosted by Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Austin and featured a near-replica of the memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It was an honor to be part of this humbling and moving tribute to our Vietnam veterans," said Col. Stephen Schemenauer. "The traveling Vietnam Wall is a powerful display, and this event provided an opportunity to meet, and thank, service members from WWII to present-day conflicts. Regardless of their branch of service, or the era or conflict in which they served, we all share a common bond."

Minnesota Aviators lead multi-state National Guard partnership for NTC rotation

Posted: 2018-05-21  03:51 PM
2-147 NTC FORT IRWIN, Calif. - The Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion is working together with aviation units from four different states to provide support to the Tennessee-based 278th Armored Calvary Regiment during a rotation at National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California.

Making up Task Force Ragnar is Utah-based B Company, 1st Battalion, 211th Assault Reconnaissance Battalion; Nevada-based B Company, 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion; Michigan-based C Company, 3-238th GSAB; and Minnesota-based A, D, E and Headquarters Companies, 2-147th AHB and F Company, 1-189th GSAB.

"Early coordination with the units across four states combined with exceptional unit leadership and motivated Soldiers helped us to quickly build the task force when we closed on Fort Irwin," said Lt. Col. Kevin O'Brien, Task Force Commander. "I was thoroughly impressed with the professionalism and teamwork of task force Soldiers. This was an outstanding training opportunity that challenged every Soldier to grow as individuals and units daily."

Deployed Minnesota Guardsman honors grandfather, Hmong heritage

Posted: 2018-05-17  09:57 AM
Brandon Xiong CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - "My heritage is Hmong," said 21 year-old Minnesota National Guard Spec. Brandon Xiong from his desk at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "A low-key culture that originated from southern Asia. Hmong is not a place, but it is a people."

Xiong, the eldest grandson of the late Col. Song Leng Xiong, is deployed in Kuwait as an information technician for Area Support Group - Kuwait.

"We were not nomadic, but have been in many different conflicts," said Xiong. "Many places I go, I am questioned about my nationality and when answered, end up being even more confused. There is a movie called, "Gran Torino", where Clint Eastwood is introduced to the Hmong culture and I think it portrays the Hmong people not so terribly."

Month of the Military Child recognizes contributions of military kids

Posted: 2018-04-07  01:54 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The month of April is designated as the Month of the Military Child to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make so their family members can serve. An estimated 15,000 children in Minnesota have been affected by the deployment of a parent.

"Military children bear a lot while their family members serve," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "It is up to us to support these resilient kids and help to lessen their burden."

An event to honor military kids in Minnesota will take place April 13, 2018, at the Mall of America rotunda from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Activities will include appearances by the Teddy Bear Band and meet and greets with Nickelodeon characters.

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