It’s not just a commitment. It’s a mindset.

It’s not just a chance to grow. It’s a way of life.

It’s not just a part-time job. It’s an adventure.

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The Pennsylvania National Guard is hiring. Alex Gibbs and Angela Pier want you!

The Lebanon office of the Pennsylvania National Guard, which is located at 1000 East Cumberland Street, inside the old armory building, isn’t new, and neither is its mission. But Pier and Gibbs, a couple of recruiters working out of the Lebanon office, are currently doubling down on their efforts.

“We’re attempting to reach out to high school students,” said Gibbs. “It’s really anyone between the ages of 17 and 35 who is interested and able.”

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“Some people don’t want to do it,” said Pier. “Some people want to do a different branch. Some people don’t want to be in the military. It’s not for everyone. It’s their personal decision.”

The Readiness Center at 1000 East Cumberland Street in Lebanon. (Falk)

The Pennsylvania National Guard’s recruiting efforts are based on the concept of providing extraordinary benefits for an ordinary commitment, sometimes as little as one weekend a month. The PA National Guard offers tuition reimbursement for college — as much as 100 percent for tuition depending upon the commitment — paid job training, health and dental insurance, sign-on bonuses and regular pay.

Commitments to military service can be as long as six years.

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“Everybody comes in for different reasons,” said Pier, who grew up in Luzerne County and now resides in the Hershey area. “It all depends on what someone is looking for. We offer the best college benefit package of any branch of the service. If you’re looking for adventure, we can provide that. If you’re looking for job training, we can provide that. We try to help everybody out. We’re kind of like counselors and recruiters.”

“For certain colleges in Pennsylvania, we pay 100 percent of the tuition,” said Gibbs, a 25-year-old non-commissioned officer from Spring Grove. “We offer low-cost health and dental insurance. For some of the benefits, it’s just one weekend a month. We offer specialized career training, and for certain jobs we offer a bonus. It’s a great way to get experience in certain fields.”

The Pennsylvania National Guard, which is headquartered at Fort Indiantown Gap in Annville, currently boasts a force of about 19,000 personnel, 3,500 of whom are serving full time and 15,500 who are part-timers. The PA National Guard, whose roots can be traced to the mid 1700s and Benjamin Franklin, includes the United States’ second-largest Army National Guard force and the country’s fourth-largest Air National Guard.

The Pennsylvania National Guard serves the role of a state militia reserve armed force, and its stated mission is ‘Civilian in peace. Soldier in war.’

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Alex Gibbs and Angela Pier are hoping to reach out to more potential recruits for the force. (Falk)

Throughout its history, the PA National Guard has engaged in peacekeeping missions at home and abroad, as well as providing support for such domestic natural disasters as hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.

“We serve both the state and the federal government,” said Gibbs. “We’re there when you need us. We live here in Pennsylvania. We train here. We drill here. We serve in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s something a lot of Pennsylvanians need to know.”

“I think the biggest thing now is that we’re all living in a pandemic,” said Pier. “We’re trying to help everyone. We want to get our name out there, so people know they have options. We’re trying to emphasize that we’re here and we want people to know we’re here.”

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Read More: As PANG helps fight coronavirus, force protection at Gap a top priority

For some young adults in their late teens and early 20s, figuring out career goals and directions can be an overwhelming and trying experience. All the decisions we make have the power to affect the rest of our lives.

The PA National Guard offers training and hands-on experience in such fields as the medical professions, law enforcement, engineering, intelligence, mechanics, aviation, combat support, transportation, human resources and cyber security.

(Falk)

“My personal experiences have been positive,” said Gibbs, who’s been a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard for eight years. “I’ve had a positive attitude the entire time I’ve been here. I got to travel, see the world and do things people couldn’t normally do. I don’t find it all that challenging. It’s not all that difficult.

“For me, the best part of it is the camaraderie,” added Gibbs. “Just being able to be part of a new family and being part of something that’s bigger than me. It’s also helped me become closer to my actual family. I really like the educational benefits, being able to go to college, and just the active work duty.”

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Read More: Lebanon County residents excel in state marksmanship competition

Perhaps the best part of the Pennsylvania National Guard is that it possesses the power to provide opportunities. It gives young people options.
Being patriotic isn’t a requirement, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

“Personally, I don’t have a specific number,” said Gibbs of his recruitment goals. “I think that ends up being a limitation. My goal is to help people. We are a way out, a way to serve the community, a way to get an education so you can find a better paying job, and get paid in the process. My expectations are to help people.”

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Helping people help people. That’s called ‘service.’

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