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Meet Your Military: Texas Guard Members Support Flint Water Effort

support our troops texas soldiers flint waterTexas Army National Guard members Maj. George Hurd, left, Staff Sgt. Erdoo Thompson, center, and 1st Lt. Matthew Verdugo, all from the 136th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, load bottled water in Round Rock, Texas, in preparation for Hurd's convoy to Flint, Michigan, March 10, 2016. Texas Army National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Daniel Griego.ROUND ROCK, Texas, March 23, 2016 — As the Flint water crisis enters its third month, one Texas Army National Guard soldier decided to step up and directly help the people most affected with a road trip to Michigan.

More than two months ago, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Flint, Michigan, in response to the ongoing water crisis that has exposed up to 12,000 children to contaminated drinking water. Since then, private donations have poured in to support the community suffering from long-term lead poisoning. For Maj. George Hurd, a Texas guardsman and combat veteran, sitting idly was not an option.

"Part of it comes from my experience overseas in Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan, where we gave out bottled water to children all across that region," Hurd said. "When I sat back and became more aware of what was going on in Flint and seeing the disaster that's going on up there, I just thought there wasn't enough attention. It affected me to the core and instead of just complaining about it, I decided to do something about it."

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Meet Your Military: Injured Soldier Strives to Excel at Army Trials

support our troops injured soldier athletic eventsArmy Staff Sgt. Tiffany Rodriguez-Rexroad, Warrior Transition Battalion, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, works to improve her shot put skills during a training session Feb. 28, 2016. More than 100 wounded, ill and injured soldiers and veterans were at Fort Bliss, Texas, to train and compete in a series of athletic events including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball to help in determining who will get a spot on the Army team for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games. Army photo by Ronald Wolf. FORT BLISS, Texas, March 14, 2016 — Army Staff Sgt. Tiffany Rodriguez-Rexroad’s goals in participating in the Army Trials here for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games were to heal and to remain on active duty.

Rodriguez-Rexroad was injured in December when as a pedestrian she was hit by a truck. She’s since had hip-replacement surgery and is recovering.

She was at the 2016 U.S. Army Trials trying out for the team for the first time, competing in cycling and field events such as shot put and air rifle marksmanship. Rodriguez-Rexroad is unable to participate in other events such as sitting volleyball until she fully recovers from her surgery.

She is assigned to the Brooke Army Medical Center, Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Her hometown is Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, which she proudly claims has a population of 85.

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Meet Your Military: Soldier Makes History in Graduate Program

support our troops us soldier makes historyPHOTO: Army Sgt. Julie Bytnar is the first enlisted service member to be accepted into a graduate education program at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md. DoD photo by Thomas Balfour BETHESDA, Md. – Five years ago, Army Sgt. Julie Bytnar was leading a very different life. She was a homemaker living in the Chicago suburbs while her husband, Bill, earned most of the family’s income. Then, without warning, Bill became very ill after a rare blood-clotting disorder ravaged his body. Over time, his condition deteriorated, and he could no longer work. Their bills began piling up, with no reprieve in sight. Desperate to keep hope alive, Bytnar enlisted in the military so she could take care of her husband and young children. “Although I was eligible for a commission based on my education and work experience, the lead time would have been much longer, and I needed a career right away,” she said. “So I enlisted in 2009 at 38 years old and have been learning about the Army from the bottom up ever since.”

Swift indoctrination Although her uniformed career has been short, Bytnar’s military indoctrination was the swift, no-holds-barred kind. After proving herself at garrison duty assignments as a lead health care specialist, Julie deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. “It was an intense experience,” she said. “I provided a lot of hands-on care to wounded service members and local Afghans, treating everything from minor to life threatening injuries.” Bytnar said her experience in Afghanistan also changed her career focus. Instead of simply providing care, she said, she began thinking about the bigger picture and wondering how she could prevent injuries from happening in the first place. Her curiosity eventually led her to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here, where she broke ground as the first enlisted service member to be accepted into a graduate-level program. “Even though I was hopeful, I was still very surprised when I got my acceptance letter from USU,” she said. “Now I’m working toward a Master of Public Health [degree]. I already have a few classes under my belt. They were challenging, but I feel confident I’ll survive the program. I want to prove to myself and everyone else that I can do this.”

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Meet your Military: Army NCO Outlines Secrets to Success

support our troops us army secrets to successArmy Master Sgt. Amber Chavez, left, the logistics noncommissioned officer in charge for 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), mentors a junior soldier as she trains her in Army logistics at Fort Carson, Colorado, Jan. 12, 2016. Chavez said she believes mentoring and training soldiers and possessing an inner drive to professionally improve every day are key components to success in the Army. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jorden M. WeirFORT CARSON, Colo., January 21, 2016 - what does it take to succeed in today's Army? It's a question that many soldiers ponder, and one that has many different answers.

For Army Master Sgt. Amber Chavez, the logistics noncommissioned officer in charge at the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) here, success has been earned through inspiration from others and her own personal inner drive.

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Meet Your Military: Citizen-Soldier Supports Guard in Civilian Capacity

MEET YOUR MILITARY: Citizen-Soldier Supports Guard in Civilian Capacity

ARLSBAD, N.M., January 4, 2016 — While many of his fellow National Guard soldiers were called to state active duty in response to recent blizzards here, Army Pfc. David Mathews went to work in his civilian job on his own time — refueling the medical evacuation helicopters called in to help.

The New Mexico National Guard was activated when a winter storm hit the southeastern section of the state Dec. 26. Soldiers have since been busy finding and helping stranded motorists, providing transportation to and from medical care, and assisting state authorities with clearing roadways.

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