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Service members provide outreach efforts, interact with rural Alaskan community

By Army Staff Sgt. Balinda O'Neal Dresel | Alaska National Guard Public Affairs | June 13, 2017

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- More than 30 service members from the Alaska National Guard and United States Military Entrance Processing Command teamed up to provide community outreach efforts and interact with the community of Galena, Alaska, May 31.


The Guardsmen arrived via a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft crewed by the Alaska Air National Guard’s 249th Airlift Squadron loaded with supplies ranging from the AKNG’s Counterdrug Support Program’s drug and alcohol education and prevention materials to the 103rd Civil Support Team’s operations truck and trailer. 

“Conducting the airlift mission with the CST team served as an annual training requirement,” said 1st Lt. Jamie Bowden, a medical operations officer with the 103rd CST, referring to the truck and trailer that was securely strapped inside the aircraft while being transported. "Our mission in Galena was in support of the Alaska National Guard’s joint staff in order to demonstrate Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team airlift operations, provide a capabilities brief to the emergency responders and community members, and demonstrate our communication capabilities in the state." 

In addition to demonstrating efficient transportation capabilities to a remote location in the state, the CST members tested communication capabilities from high latitude satellite angles with a dismounted strike communications system, and answered local residents’ questions as they weaved their way through the CST displays. 

Next to the CST display, CDSP Guardsmen disseminated Narcan and drug disposal kits, and other education and prevention materials to local residents. Across the runway, the C-17 crew opened their doors and gave tours of the massive, four-engine transport aircraft. 

Two-miles down the road, Guardsmen from the Alaska Army National Guard’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion walked service members from USMEPCOM through Galena’s store, school and health clinic to help them get a better understanding of some of the difficulties rural recruits have when enlisting into the military. 

“The visit allowed them to see first-hand the process that we have to go through to bring someone in from a rural area,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Ekeland, a recruiter in charge of the Yukon-Koyukuk Region. “I don’t think they sometimes understand the massiveness of Alaska. We can point to a map and say ‘there is Nome,’ but they have no idea how far or the lengths it takes to get to Anchorage.” 

Ekeland said that it is important to have leadership from military entrance processing in rural Alaska to listen to the difficulties that recruits face and ensure that they are legally and successfully contracted. 

Service members from the USMEPCOM also received a brief history of the Alaska Scouts and the new pilot-program that authorizes waivers to Alaska Natives who might be trying to join the Guard but face barriers to qualifications. 

“We are hoping to bring more service members from MEPS to other rural locations in the future,” explained Ekeland. “We have ideas and are hoping to find resources and funding to make it happen.”

Alaska National Guard Counterdrug Support Program Narcan

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