|Personnel||Adjutant General's Biography||Command Message||TAG Policies|
When you raised your right hand and joined the U.S. military—whether it was 20 days or 20 years ago—you made a promise to put the welfare of your fellow Americans before your own.
Selfless service is a core value of military service, whether on active duty, citizen Soldier or Airman, or member of our State Defense Forces. It even extends to our civilian workforce who, while not bound by an oath, share our ommon commitment to the better good.
“Service before self” places others above our own self-interest. That’s why we serve. Selfless service is the very core of our military.
It reminds us that when we wear the uniform of the United States we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are all part of keeping the United States –America– a free, democratic example for the rest of the world to follow. The military serves to protect democracy and defend our freedoms.
Living up to this high expectation is not always easy. It’s why we have a professional code of conduct and critically important, it’s reflected in how we treat one another. That’s why I always find it painful when I hear someone say they fear retaliation from their fellow service members.
Retaliation (while it may be human nature) has no place in our organization or our personal lives.
You swore an oath to be better than that. You swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of New York. That means accepting responsibility when you make a mistake, not working to cover it up or blame others.
We devote ourselves to our families, employers and communities in ways that reflect our military culture.
In the past two years, and over my 40 years in the Army, I have witnessed the greater good your individual service has achieved. From combat zones to disasters here in New York and in other states and territories, your service and dedication have been unmatched.
Since March 2020, the collective service of our state’s military forces and civilian employees has been remarkable. Simply stated, New York State could not have responded as effectively had the National Guard and State Defense Forces and DMNA workforce not been available.
As I travel around the state, I never miss the chance to talk with service members to thank them for their service and help solve issues affecting them. The best part of my job as the adjutant general is talking with our remarkable service members. My highlight is always presenting TAG challenge coins for a job well done.
If you’ve met me in the field, you’ll know that I always stress the need to recruit and retain people for our units. I also emphasize the need for each Soldier and Airman to be physically fit, trained in their military specialty and medically ready to deploy. Many of you have heard me say “other than safety (which includes physical safety, prevention and response to sexual assault or sexual harassment, and treating everyone fairly and consistently) we have no higher priority than unit assigned strength, followed by individual readiness.”
Service before self and individual readiness are the starting points for an effective unit. We build unit readiness so we can be the combat reserve of the Army and Air Force.
It means spending personal time on physical fitness to prepare for the Army Combat Fitness Test and the Air Force Physical Fitness Test.
It means studying during personal time to prepare for Army and Air Force courses.
Now it means adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of other shots the Army and Air Force require you to take to ensure you are medically ready to deploy.
The COVID vaccine is just like other requirements the military places on us: like annual fitness tests, weigh-ins, weapons qualification, the flu vaccine or other training briefings. It is a readiness issue.
We do not send a Soldier or Airman overseas without the best training, equipment, or healthcare we can provide.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in his directive that “all FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective.
They will protect you and your family. They will protect your unit, your ship and your co-workers. And they will ensure we remain the most lethal and ready force in the world.”
He’s absolutely right on this. We are a better, more ready force when the vaccine is protecting each of you, protecting our formations and your families and friends.
Our Airmen achieved full compliance in December, gathering up vaccination cards, administering shots where necessary or channeling medical or religious exemption requests for review and decision.
Our Soldiers, while facing a June 2022 deadline, should make every effort to meet compliance well before that. We are well past 80% at the end of December 2021. I’m aware many are already vaccinated, but haven’t provided a copy of that vaccination card to your unit. So here is your task: get vaccinated and provide a copy of your CDC card to your unit.
Leaders should take personal intervention -down to name tape level- to talk to our Soldiers and help them schedule their shot or if they have a CDC card, get a copy to input into the Army’s medical records system.
Medical experts recommend getting the shot. It is not the silver bullet to end the pandemic. But it will prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from the coronavirus.
That matters to me. It should matter to you as well.
The National Guard motto is “Always Ready, Always There.” We cannot be ready and we cannot be there, if you are sick with a disease that’s already killed over 800,000 of our fellow citizens.
Thank you for your service.
Thanks to your employers for allowing you to serve. Our highest appreciation goes to your families, the ones who bear the brunt of loneliness and extra chores while you are away serving state and nation.