“It is a time of uncertainty, but even in a time of uncertainty I know that the importance of the National Guard will remain at the top of the priority list,” Deal said before around 500 current and former Georgia National Guard members and dignitaries Thursday. “As far as my involvement and my abilities to dictate our support, you will always of course have that.”
Deal touted some state programs intended to help veterans who return from service, including “Troops to Trucks,” which is intended to help meet a statewide shortage of commercial drivers before the deepening of the Port of Savannah; “Operation workforce,” an online resource that allows military members to find out what jobs they are qualified for and what types of training and education they are eligible for; and another program that simplifies the process for military children who move into a new school.
“It is our responsibility to make that transition for them as easy and as profitable as possible,” he said.
Deal praised Georgia Power for donating $10,000 to the National Guard Family Support Foundation
“This is a foundation that does important work to provide support for families and individuals in time of need, and certainly as we approach this holiday season it is typically one of those times the foundation is called upon to provide assistance,” said Deal, who arrived 15 minutes after the ceremony’s scheduled starting time and left before it was completed.
The event took place just over a year after the Cobb-based Georgia National Guard dedicated a new $29 million Joint Headquarters Building on Dec. 7, 2011, at the Clay National Guard Center. Deal returned to the same drill room where he spoke at that ribbon-cutting.
“Having the headquarters here is a great asset,” Cobb Commissioner JoAnn Birrell said after the ceremony. “For our military to train here and be here, it’s a great opportunity for Cobb County.”
Retired Brigadier General Thomas McCullough of Powder Springs said it refreshing to see the support of the governor and other elected officials.
“The guard is a ready force to state emergencies at the governor’s call, and is also ready to be deployed in support of an active military mission,” he said. “That’s what’s unique about the Guard, is they can respond both in state emergencies and be ready to be deployed in a national campaign.”
The National Guard is the United States’ oldest armed forces branch, founded Dec. 13, 1636, in Salem, Mass. The Georgia National Guard traces its lineage to 1736, four years after the colony was founded.
The Georgia National Guard has sent more than 12,000 members overseas since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and currently has around 500 people deployed.
Among the others in attendance were Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin; Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews and Councilmen Tim Killingsworth and Jeff Duckett; Smyrna Councilmen Wade Lnenicka and Ron Fennel; and Cobb School Board Chair Scott Sweeney.