The National Guard is a reserve force of trained soldiers and airmen who serve part time in their own states or territories, while also being available for special needs in other places. There are 54 separate organizations within the National Guard, including the Puerto Rico National Guard.
Most members of the National Guard have full-time civilian jobs in addition to their military service. Still, they serve as part of the first line of defense for their states or territories, as well as helping with emergency response in the case of hurricanes and other national disasters.
Puerto Rico’s National Guard was instrumental in providing assistance to U.S. citizens in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there. Puerto Rico Air National Guard’s 156th Airlift Wing was one of the first units to respond, and they flew dozens of missions in support of the rescue efforts there. Puerto Rico’s National Guard has also repeatedly been in the forefront of rescue efforts in the Dominican Republic, as well as cooperating in efforts to control drug trafficking in Puerto Rico.
While the language and culture skills of the Puerto Rico National Guard have been particularly helpful in coping with needs in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico National Guardsmen have assisted in other parts of the nation as well. Recently they joined in training exercises in Missouri, where the Missouri National Guard was working to develop preparedness for a feared earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Area. This region was the site of the largest recorded earthquakes in the continental United States, so the Guardsmen were preparing for an enormous urban natural disaster.
Members of the Puerto Rico National Guard have also been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The special skills of the Puerto Rico National Guard and the high number of members of the Guard who have prior experience in combat makes this group an important asset to the United States.
And yet, unlike the members of the National Guard in the States, members of the Puerto Rico National Guard cannot vote for their Commander in Chief and do not have voting representation in the Congress. Tell your representatives what you think about that.