Washington, DC (NAPSI) - Helping to make our nation a safer place is not without its rewards.

Becoming a member of the Army National Guard, a 375-year-old branch of theU.S.military, gives soldiers a chance to accomplish great things in addition to serving their country and state.

For a start, serving is not full-time and does not require you to leave your personal or professional life behind. The difference between the Guard and other military services is that Guard soldiers serve part-time and close to home. These soldiers can work or go to school full-time and also serve their communities part-time by responding to natural disasters and other emergencies.

That may be why it’s such a popular option. Currently, the Army National Guard has 360,000 citizen-soldiers who are ready to protect and serve their local community, state and country at a moment’s notice.

Meeting The Nation’s Military Needs

The Army National Guard is one component of the U.S. Army. It partners with the other two components-the Active Army and the Army Reserve-to help fulfill the country’s military needs. The Guard dates back to 1636, when Colonial militia forces were organized into regiments in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Since the Pequot War in 1637, the Guard has participated in every national war or conflict.

The Guard has a dual state and federal mission. At the state level, it provides vital emergency assistance when there is a natural disaster, such as responding to fight wildfires or helping communities deal with floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and snowstorms or civil disturbance. The Guard also supports federal homeland security efforts and stands ready to mobilize in times of war and national emergency.

Emergency And Recovery Efforts

In 2011, the Army Guard aided in emergency evacuation, rescue and recovery efforts for events such as Hurricane Irene; the devastating tornado in Joplin, Missouri; wildfires in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico; and blizzards across the East Coast and Midwest. On the federal side of things, National Guard units are currently serving inAfghanistanandIraqas well as in peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and theSinai Peninsula.

Besides the opportunity to serve, there are several financial advantages to signing on that include pay and bonuses, low-cost health and life insurance, plus a chance to rise in the ranks. The Guard also helps members with their education by offering college tuition assistance.

For More Information

For more information, visit www.nationalguard.com.