COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (4/24/10) – More than 140 Colorado National Guardsmen and military retirees attended the National Guard Association of Colorado’s annual conference at the Doubletree Hotel Colorado Springs-World Arena.
Resolutions drafted here, in conjunction with at the National Guard Association of the United States-level initiatives, will be proposed to congress in the coming months.
Key joint resolutions included an ongoing initiative to allow Guardsmen to retire one year early for every two years they serve in past their 20-year marks, an initiative to allow Title 32 (state-funded) orders to count toward eligibility for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and requests to fully modernize both Air and Army facilities across the state.
Two key Colorado Air National Guard resolutions include upgrading Litening Advanced Targeting pods for the F-16 fleet, and the addition of a new synthetic aperture radar system for the aircraft.
The Colorado Army National Guard’s primary resolutions involve procurement and funding of equipment in order to sustain current levels within field artillery and aviation.
“These are all issues at the NGAUS-level that have already been voted on once or more by the states to be initiatives that NGAUS and EANGUS (Enlisted National Guard Association of the United States) are pushing forward,” said Army Lt. Col. Michael Stowell, president of the NGACO.
Stowell said the primary importance of NGACO conferences are to discuss resolutions, elect new board members, connect with industry partners and shape the future of the CONG.
Spc. Landon Noffsinger of Company A, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry, is the future of the NGACO. As the youngest member of the organization at 21, he joined three years ago when he heard a rumor that his Guard paycheck was going to be reduced.
“These conferences allow our voice to be heard,” said Noffsinger, who has attended three prior state conferences and one national-level conference. “Unfortunately, my voice as a specialist is only represented by three people at this entire conference and there’s nobody lower ranking than me, but I’d love to see privates in here. We need to get the word out about this organization.”
Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Mears of the Colorado Air National Guard’s 140th Maintenance Group is a NGACO senior enlisted representative and values the importance of the conference.
“The Air Guard says that you should belong to a professional organization and I joined (NGACO),” he said. “This has a lot more value for your money than a lot of organizations out there because this is strictly for us.”
The NGACO falls underneath the NGAUS, whose mission is to promote national security and to improve and maintain a strong National Guard as the nation’s first line of defense.Recent significant NGAUS legislative achievements include the addition of TRICARE Reserve Select health benefits in 2005 and the option of obtaining low-cost health care for Guardsmen in 2006.