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Leaders say volunteers key to Guard's success

Army Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter (right), the acting director of the Army National Guard, and Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, along with other Guard leaders answered questions from the audience Aug. 2, 2010, during a panel discussion at the 2010 National Guard Volunteer Workshop in New Orleans.  More than 1,000 Guard volunteers from the 54 states and territories attended the conference. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)

Army Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter (right), the acting director of the Army National Guard, and Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, along with other Guard leaders answered questions from the audience Aug. 2, 2010, during a panel discussion at the 2010 National Guard Volunteer Workshop in New Orleans. More than 1,000 Guard volunteers from the 54 states and territories attended the conference. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer)

NEW ORLEANS (AFNS) -- National Guard leaders said that if citizen-Soldiers and citizen-Airmen continue to deploy in support of overseas missions, their family readiness groups will need to be supported at the same pace.

"If we allow these rotations and what we do to become common, accepted and routine, then we need to give the families the focus that we should and that they deserve," Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, the director of the Air National Guard, told an audience at the 2010 National Guard Volunteer Workshop, which began here Aug. 2.

In a panel discussion, Guard leaders also answered questions from the audience about how to ensure that critical family support programs remain in place and also provide the support they should.

"I think it's important to take the resources that we have and spend them responsibly," General Wyatt said, "so that when people question our family support programs, we can show with pride and dignity that the funds and the people that we have in these programs are the highest priority.

"These should be the last programs the military looks at to cut back," he said.

General Wyatt said that the pressures on the economy are obvious, and there are concerns about possible family program cuts in the future.

"Your immediate response is why would anyone cut back on the most important part of combat readiness, but it's not easy," he said adding that the services are also cutting back on equipment accounts.

Army Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, the acting director of the Army National Guard, said family readiness groups have developed a "partnership" with their Soldiers.

"For as much as the servicemember took an oath to serve (his or her) country, many of you might as well have signed the same oath, because you are just as committed as that Soldier," he said.

General Carpenter credits the Army Guard's end strength to successful family programs.

"The story from the inside the Army National Guard is that every Soldier has either reenlisted or volunteered to be a part of the Army National Guard since 9/11," he said.  "We are nine years into two wars and we have an excess of Soldiers, and that's a great story about the Army National Guard and its family programs."

General Carpenter said the Army is looking at the programs available to the families of unmarried Soldiers.

"And I am confident that at the end of the process the right support will go to the right people," he said.  "For us here in the Army National Guard, people are our number one priority, and taking care of people is absolutely part of that process."

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