MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker promoted Col. Robyn Blader to the rank of brigadier general during a formal ceremony Sept. 12 in the Senate Chamber at the state capitol building.
Blader, a Wautoma, Wisconsin resident who most recently served as the Wisconsin National Guard’s full-time staff advocate general, will now serve as the assistant adjutant general for readiness and training, a position formerly held by Brig. Gen. Joane Mathews, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army.
“I stand before you today humbled, honored and truly blessed,” Blader said, recalling her small-town “farm girl” roots and thanking Walker and Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, for their trust and confidence in her.
“I wish I could adequately put into words the gratitude for this opportunity,” Blader said. “I will do my very best to ensure that the Soldiers continue to be the best trained and ready Soldiers the National Guard has to offer.”
Walker mentioned that 12 months ago, he and Dunbar were visiting members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, underscoring half of the National Guard’s dual mission as America’s primary combat reserve. Walker said that it was difficult to tell the difference between National Guard and active duty Airmen. The governor also acknowledged recent National Guard efforts responding to flooding across Wisconsin, as well as helping other states and territories in storm response efforts last year — underscoring the National Guard’s role as the state’s first military responder.
“It’s just another reminder that when we’re in trouble, who do we call? We call the National Guard,” Walker said.
The governor noted that he and Blader began discussions last year about ensuring that Wisconsin National Guard members on state active duty have the same protections, support and benefits as active duty service members.
Dunbar said that the concept of calling the National Guard to help in domestic emergencies or federal missions overseas is as easy to understand as a bumper sticker slogan, but that the reality is not simple at all.
“On the other end of the continuum is this exquisite complexity of the lives of the men and women who wear this uniform and take on this responsibility like Col. Blader — the things they have to do in their lives to stitch together this wonderful career,” Dunbar explained. “Because they balance their personal lives, their family — they balance their military lives and somehow make it all work out. And it looks simple, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
Dunbar pointed out that Blader, like many other Guard members, had to make long-term arrangements for her family when she deployed to Afghanistan years ago. Her husband, Edward Lucht, was frequently away from home due to his job as a commercial airline pilot. Blader’s sister Quinn and mother Barbara stepped in to help with daughters Brooke and Bailey. She also relied on coworkers to operate Blader Law Office, LLC in Wautoma, Wisconsin while she was deployed.
Dunbar referred to Blader as “the quintessential Guardsman” — serving part-time for most of her career while raising a family and building a successful law firm.
“That shows how incredibly complex these lives can be,” Dunbar said.
Blader said she did not arrive at this moment on her own — she had guidance, mentoring and support along the way. She also credited her late father James, a successful farmer in Waushara County, with instilling a life-long relentless work ethic in her, along with commitment and dedication.
“To the Soldiers and Airmen of the Wisconsin National Guard, you are by far the best trained and professional Soldiers and Airmen the National Guard has to offer,” Blader said. “We’re going to continue to push and push to make sure those standards are getting higher and higher.”
As assistant adjutant general for readiness and training, Blader will assist the adjutant general and deputy adjutant general for Army in sustaining and growing the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s readiness to fulfill both its state and federal missions.