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One hundred and three at-risk teens from counties across Wisconsin graduated from a challenging 22-week program June 11 with the tools to make better life decisions and persevere through problems.The Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy takes teens out of an environment where bad choices were easy to make, and houses them for more than five months at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The quasi-military setting builds positive values through physical and mental discipline, and transforms at-risk teens into cadets.Roland Pechie, a senior team leader at Challenge Academy and keynote speaker for the June 11 graduation ceremony at Mauston High School in Mauston, Wisconsin, used a rock quarry metaphor to explain the tough environment the teens came from and the condition in which they arrived — a mass of imperfect rock.
The Wisconsin Army National Guard's Soldier of the Year finished a whisper short of winning the 2015 Region IV Best Warrior Competition, held May 11-14 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.Spc. Derrek Ziegler — a member of Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry — finished second in a contest of the best lower enlisted Soldiers from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio.
One hundred and four cadets from 40 counties will graduate from the Wisconsin National Guard Challenge Academy June 11 during a noon ceremony at Mauston High School in Mauston, Wisconsin.Challenge Academy intervenes in the lives of 16-18-year-old Wisconsin youth at risk of not graduating high school. The 22-week quasi-military residential program at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin offers motivated and committed teens an opportunity to earn a high school equivalency degree (HSED), develop life skills, clarify values and strengthen relationships with family and community. Upon graduating the residential phase, Challenge Academy cadets are paired with hometown mentors for guidance and encouragement as they pursue a new direction in life.
Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, is scheduled to host aircraft and personnel from multiple Air National Guard and active duty units as part of the annual Northern Lightning combat training exercise June 8-19.The two-week long event will provide participating Airmen with valuable training in large-force aircraft employment against a near-peer adversary, incorporating the first use of contract aggressor aircraft in a National Guard Bureau exercise.According to Lt. Col. Christopher Hansen, CRTC director of operations, Volk Field is uniquely suited to support training exercises such as Northern Lightning.
WEST BEND, Wis. — Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, and Wisconsin National Guard senior leaders joined families and friends in sending off approximately 30 Wisconsin Army National Guard members of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment during a May 30 ceremony.The Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers will complete mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas, before deploying to Kuwait where they will conduct a medevac and maintenance support mission for approximately 12 months as part of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield. They will train and deploy alongside Guard members from other states — the battalion's aviation units are located in Colorado and Nebraska as well as Wisconsin, as part of the National Guard's plan to have vital aviation assets available across the nation.
MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Scott Walker promoted Brig. Gen. Murray Hansen, the Wisconsin Air National Guard chief of staff, to his present rank during a formal ceremony May 20 in the Senate Chamber of the state capitol.During the ceremony, Walker acknowledged that he carries uniform patches from the Wisconsin Army and Air National Guard as a reminder of the service Guard members provide at the state and federal level."It's not just a job — it's an incredibly important responsibility," Walker said, "in many cases a responsibility that others in active duty weren't able to fulfill the way our men and women in the Wisconsin National Guard can. We understand the importance — we know that's why it's so important to have great leadership."
Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen joined forces for a two-day Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) exercise at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, May 1-2.The exercise allowed service members to prepare for the first-ever CERFP one-day inspection, scheduled to be held next month."This is going to be the first team to be evaluated using a one-day evaluation process, so they are kind of in the spotlight," said Travis Dauer, National Guard Bureau Joint Collective Training Branch weapons of mass destruction-chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear analyst.
With Sexual Assault Awareness Month drawing to a close, the Wisconsin National Guard unveiled a report on its efforts over the past two years to stamp out sexual assault from its formations.Among the highlights were a series of visits in summer 2013 by the Wisconsin National Guard's senior leaders to every unit in the state to stress the organization's intolerance for sexual assault and to explain how the Guard responds to reported cases of assault.In late 2013, Wisconsin became the first state to create a team of legal advisors, known as special victims counsel, who represent victims of sexual assault through the investigation and prosecution phases of the cases. The Guard also worked with the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker signed into law an update to the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice's definition of sexual assault. Wisconsin became the first state to amend its state code specifically to provide an enhanced Sexual Assault Punitive Article, Article 120.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The state of veteran unemployment in Wisconsin is improving — but more can be done."Because of the good work of our Department of Veterans Affairs and the successes we've seen across the entire state over the last four years, we've been able to cut our veterans unemployment rate literally in half," Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said in Green Bay at the first of three Governor's Summits on Wisconsin Veteran Employment. "The more we are able to do that, the better off we will be."Capt. Joseph Ledger, formerly the manager for the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs' Wisconsin Employment Resource Connection (WERC) program and now the project officer for National Governors Association Veteran Employment initiative in Wisconsin, noted that in 2012 unemployment among Wisconsin veterans was around 10 percent. Two years later, the rate had improved to 5 percent, with preliminary indications that unemployment among veterans was continuing to drop in 2015.
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan — A Wisconsin Air National Guard pilot currently deployed to Kadena has just completed a milestone in his career, joining an elite group of just 250.Lt. Col. Matthew C. McCunn — of the Madison, Wisconsin-based 115th Fighter Wing — completed a flight here taking him over a career total of 3,000 flight hours.Upon landing, McCunn was surrounded by friends and family — including his sons Senior Airman Alex McCunn and Airman 1st Class Nathan McCunn, who are also deployed to Kadena with the 115th Fighter Wing — as he became soaked in water from the traditional hosing down for his accomplishment."In the fighter community, we accumulate flying hours at a fairly slow rate, and a little slower in the Guard than on active duty," McCunn explained, noting that he averages around 100 sorties per year and averages 1.3 hours per sortie. While flying careers can be cut short as a result of changing military assignments, McCunn has spent his entire career as an F-16 pilot.