The National Guard was established as the original “well ordered militia” of the United States at a time when the country distrusted a standing army. Since that time the National Guard has been used to aid states during times of emergency and as an auxiliary force during times of war. Following the attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, the National Guard has been used extensively in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At times, more National Guardsmen were in service than regular military due to the demands of these wars. Deployment duties for National Guardsmen have been increased from no more than one year of voluntary deployment during five years of service to more than two years of voluntary deployment during six years of service. Although supports have also increased, the specific needs of National Guardsmen and their families are not being met. This paper reviews how National Guard personnel differ from regular military personnel, the impact of war on National Guardsmen and their families, and available supports.
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