From the Commanding General

To my Teammates of the 108th Training Command, it is my great privilege to share opportunities of your successes with others.  That was no less the case when I was honored by the invitation of an extraordinary leader and partner, CSM Gilmer, the Commandant of the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy to speak at the graduation ceremony conducted on March 8, 2017.  There were 91 graduates, 16 from the 108th.  Of the 16, five were on the Commandant’s list.  One stood alone with the trifecta of excellence: Commandant’s List, Distinguished Honor Graduate, and Iron Drill: Female.  That was SSG Brianna Popp.  The following is an excerpt of the remarks I shared at the graduation ceremony.  Although focused on the graduates themselves, the words I share truly apply to us all.

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From the Command Sergeant Major

Today started out good because like almost every day, it started with physical fitness training. I know I say this often in my articles but when you start your day off with PT, it’s going to be a great day because PT sets the tone of the day.

Today started out good because like almost every day, it started with physical fitness training. I know I say this often in my articles but when you start your day off with PT, it’s going to be a great day because PT sets the tone of the day.

As my battle buddy MG McQueen and I travel around visiting our units, I’m seeing a number of Soldiers in our formations who are not presenting a professional military image in their uniforms. 

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Taking Up the Army Challenge

Serving our country in the Armed Forces is a challenge in itself.  The life of a United States Armed Forces service member is unlike most other forms of employment.  Although other businesses have contracts, the contract you sign or oath you take with the Armed Forces says something about your character on the day you sign, and will ultimately say something about who you become as the years go by.  Simply serving in the Armed Forces is no longer enough, we all have a responsibility to be ready to fight when called upon. 

In 1982 when I first enlisted, I knew there would be hard work to do, but I never realized just how much it means to be fully ready when the day comes to move out.  

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Female Drill Sergeants Play Vital Role

The drill sergeant hat is an icon in the Army that creates vivid images. When people see a Soldier wearing it, they immediately feel respect because they know it is a job that is earned, not given.

The hat that comes to mind for most, is the male drill sergeant hat, the brown round. However, the female drill sergeant hat holds just as much responsibility. It just hasn’t been around as long, or as much, but it certainly has history.

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Task Force Marshall Change of Command

CAMP MCCRADY, S.C. — Soldiers and Sailors gathered at Camp McCrady, Eastover, S.C., for the Task Force Marshall transfer of authority ceremony Jan. 5, 2017. 

The Task Force Marshall training mission formed in 2004, and the 108th Training Command (Initial Entry Training) took on the responsibility to provide a task force for the U.S. Army Reserve. Made up of a a battalion size element of drill sergeants along with civilians counterparts, the 108th Soldiers provide a 12 day basic skills refresher course to mobilized Individual Ready Reserve Soldiers.

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It Takes a Village

For many, Valentine’s Day is a swirl of red and pink decorations, candies, flowers, cards and meals that celebrate loving relationships and intimate bonds. For the families involved in Survivor Outreach Services in Rochester, New York, this day is just one more reminder of what they have lost.

Supported by Family Programs staff, two chaplains and each other, the survivors came together February 11 to create projects memorializing their journey as part of the Operation Love Letter event.

Started in Orlando, Fl., Operation Love Letter is a program created to honor fallen Soldiers, their surviving family members and the bonds they still share. 

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Task Force Marshall

Task Force Marshall, a battalion size element of 108th Training Command (IET) drill sergeants and civilians provide a three week basic skills refresher course to include basic rifle marksmanship and first aid instruction to U.S. Navy individual augmentees who are being deployed to many parts of the world. In between training cycles, the cadre comes together to maintain their required training and work on team building to strengthen unit cohesion.

Soldiers of Task Force Marshall gathered at the Teamwork Development Course at Fort Jackson on Mar. 8, and together they concurred the obstacles. At the TDC the cadre was split into two teams and given the rules, stipulations, restrictions and time limits for mission completion. 

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98th NCO Earns Top Honors at Drill Sergeant Academy

Earning the title of drill sergeant is an accomplishment not all Soldiers can achieve. However, Army Reservist, Staff Sgt. Briana Popp, did just that and more.

After completing the challenging nine-week drill sergeant course at The Drill Sergeant Academy, Popp was presented her drill sergeant badge and campaign hat alongside 90 others noncommissioned officers during a graduation ceremony at Fort Jackson, S.C., March 8, 2017. Popp stood out among her peers when all the scores were tallied, and snagged two additional titles: Iron Female and Distinguished Honor Graduate.

The Iron Female and Iron Male titles are given to the drill sergeant candidates with the highest scores on the Army Physical Fitness Test, which includes two minutes of push-ups, two-minutes of sit-ups and a timed two-mile run.

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In Your Face Basketball Shootout

Over the past 10 years Charlotte, North Carolina has been hosting the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Basketball Tournament. An event that draws in excess of 190,000 fans, students and alumni, the CIAA tournament offers drill sergeants from the 108th Training Command (IET) an opportunity for good face to face with possible recruits. Although the basketball tournament is the main draw, additional events throughout the week include an Education Session for high school students and a Career Day for college students where attendees can learn about education opportunities, scholarship offers, career options and military service.

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‘Our John Wayne’

(This article was reprinted with permission from the Winter 2017 edition of  “The Officer” magazine.)

Former Staff Sgt. Dewey Smith was among eight infantrymen laying down suppressive fire for dozens of Soldiers as they scrambled onto helicopters under a barrage of incoming mortar and machine gun fire. He called watching them take off heartbreaking, not knowing whether there would be a final rescue. But then, he didn’t know Lt. Col. Charles “Chuck” Kettles.

Kettles is credited with saving 44 lives that day, Smith stated. For his heroism, members of congress upgraded a Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor. He was presented the award during a ceremony at the White House, July 18, 2016.

“I’ve thought about that day a lot over the years,” said Smith. “I’ve thought a lot about those who died there. I’ve thought a lot about those who got out of there alive and I’ve tried to live my life to honor all of them.”

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Mission Complete

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Soldiers of Task Force Marshall Detachment Five have spent the last year training Sailors for future missions around the world.

As of Jan. 23, 2016, only one thing stood between them and stepping foot on Puerto Rican soil – their demobilization process.

TFM-D5 consists of Soldiers in the 1/389th BCT BN based in Puerto Rico and is a part of the 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training), 108th Training Command (IET).

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From the 95th Training Division (IET) Commander

We are a Drill Sergeant division. We provide trained and ready Drill Sergeants in support of Army Initial Entry Training when and where required. We are extremely good at what we do. Our partners in the active Army tell us time and time again that they could not accomplish their missions without our help!

Most of the time, we support the active Army by sending our Drill Sergeants to a training post for two or three weeks every summer. This helps the active Army deal with a routine need for extra Drill Sergeants that arises at that same time every year.  

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From the 95th Command Sergeant Major

It has been a little over a year now since having the privilege of joining the 95th Division as the Division Command Sergeant Major. I am extremely proud to be back in the Victory Division serving with the Iron Men of Metz; the Soldiers who were ready to fight bravely against the odds to accomplish their mission as they moved across France. They were trained, then called on to perform a difficult mission until completed. That end date was unknown at that time, unlike today when we have BOG (boots on ground) date and length of tour predetermined. In recent history, the Iron Soldiers of the Victory Division have served in many countries around the world with distinction. They were ready for the mission; are we ready today?

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Back to the Basics:

As the current Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Mark A. Milley, has stated in many forums, readiness is our top priority – why is it so difficult? As a leader of a brigade, I would like to ask any leader reading this article if you find readiness easy? If you do, then you may opt to stop reading right now. If not, welcome to the other 95% of our organization. So let’s be fair. What I mean by readiness is “green” in all key metrics that allow a person or unit to deploy with minimal preparation. Is the cause of difficulty navigating systems? Lack of school slots? Lack of doctors or medical appointments? Employer conflict? Geographic dispersion of subordinate units? There are many potential root causes to why readiness is such a challenge. I submit that the root cause of 95% of the problem with keeping readiness levels in the green is not system or process related at all, but rather the lack of attention or priority by our company level leaders (notice I did not say lack of ability). There are some leaders who genuinely get it, understand how to use tools, metrics and expertise in their formations to achieve significant results- but from my experience these are the exceptions and not the rule.

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Forging Enduring Partnership and Civilians to Soldiers FLS ECHO MISSION FY 17

Photos by 95th Training Division(IET)

As 2nd Brigade, 95th Training Division (IET) begins its Echo Mission support for fiscal year 2017, a new partnership has been forged to ensure effective and sustained support of the Brigades partner unit: 1-48th Infantry Battalion, 3rd Chemical Brigade, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Brigade leadership and staff site visits to 1-48th IN 60 days before first boots on ground prepared the brigade with a consistent information flow between the units and sustainment coordination done prior to arrival to allow Day One Drill Sergeant engagement and effectiveness with the partner training battalion.

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From the 98th Training Division (IET) Commander

Iroquois Warriors,

Inspired is all I can say.   Inspired with the professionalism and exceptional performance of our Drill Sergeant candidates at the United States Army Drill Sergeant Academy.  CSM Priest and I just returned from the graduation ceremony of Drill Sergeant Class 002 at Fort Jackson, S.C. In that class, not only did the 98th Division have thirteen Drill Sergeant Graduates (Hooah!), but it had the Distinguished Honor Graduate (SSG Briana Popp), Iron Female (SSG Briana Popp) and four graduates on the Commandants List (SFC James Brennen, SSG Briana Popp, SSG Gary Tenhaaf, SGT Timothy Thelen).  CSM Priest and I want to personally thank our Drill Sergeant Graduates for their personal dedication and commitment to excellence, the families for their support and understanding, and Command Teams (Company through Brigade) for their encouragement and support of the pursuit of excellence.  You all have so much to be proud of.  We all have so much to be proud of!

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Retired Iraq Veteran Helps Others Find Peace

Life can be full of stress that is unavoidable. From the irritation of dealing with road-raging drivers to the anxiety of coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, it can be a lot to handle.

Of course, stress and PTSD are not always limited to veterans alone. Many family members and civilians can have similar weight on their shoulders. Regardless of the size of the shoulders, sometimes, the weight can just be too much.

In these situations, people just need a horse to save the day, according to Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Sam Rhodes, owner of Warrior Outreach in Fortson, Ga. 

After serving 30 consecutive months deployed to Iraq in 2003, Rhodes found it hard to readjust to life back home. He suffered in silence from the impacts of war because he feared the stigma associated with asking for help.

“I was kind of embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know I had challenges. So I kind of handled it on my own,” said Rhodes.

Through his struggles, Rhodes discovered a path to comfort. “I found that horses were very helpful to me. The dynamic part of that is, being a leader, once you find something that’s going to help you get through the challenges in life, you want to share it with other people.”

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4th Brigade Best of the Best JROTC Drill Competition

Hickory, N.C. — Drill Sergeants from the 3rd Bn. 518th Inf. Regt., 98th Training Division (IET), acted as competition judges for the annual 4th Brigade Best of the Best JROTC Drill Competition held Saturday, February 11, 2017 at the Hickory Metro Convention Center in Hickory, N.C. High school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets from seven states along the east coast competed in a variety of drill and ceremony events to demonstrate their proficiency and discipline with both individual and unit parade and ceremony marching.

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Camp Blanding Mission

Army Reserve Soldiers from Alpha and Charlie companies, 2-485th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 98th Training Division (Initial Entry Training), took to the field and trained nearly 400 Soldiers during a field training exercise at Camp Blanding, Fla., February 10-13, 2017.

The 98th TD (IET) training team, which included nine drill sergeants, four drill sergeant candidates and six support personnel, assisted the 332nd Transportation Battalion (Terminal), 143rd Transportation Command, with their training event. The four-day exercise included a wide range of activities such as an Army Physical Fitness Test, land navigation, various Warrior Tasks, a Viking Challenge and weapons qualification ranges for the M9, M16 and M249.

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The 1-304th Regt. takes command of the CONUS Replacement Center

Fort Bliss, Texas — Over 100 Army Reserve Soldiers from the 98th Training Division (IET) mobilized to Texas to take command of the Continental United States Replacement Center mission at Fort Bliss.

The Transfer of Authority Ceremony on January 13, 2017, signified that the Soldiers from the Special Troops Battalion, 304th Sustainment Brigade had completed their mission, and that the Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 304th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 98th Training Division (IET) were now in charge.

To prepare for the year-long mission at the CRC, Army Reservists from the 1-304th conducted weeks of training at their home station, as well as on the ground at Fort Bliss. When they officially arrived in Texas on December 15, 2016, the Soldiers shadowed their predecessors from the Special Troops Battalion to learn the intricacies of the mission. 

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From the 104th Training Division (LT) Commander

This past quarter has been an exceptional one for the 104th Division. As the command continues to reform, we will become more adaptive and efficient in completing our missions. The Division is leaning forward to minimize the impact of reformation, while embracing the challenges it brings and looking for the opportunities to improve readiness. 

During this time, mission continuity and communication is critical for all Soldiers and I am committed to providing the necessary guidance and resources to see us through. Understanding that our units are geographically dispersed the CSM and I are making an effort to get on ground with our Soldiers and find ways we can better serve them. 

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Former Timberwolf Joins New Pack

Representing the 104th Training Division (LT) at the recent regional Reserve Recruiting Partnership Council (R2PC) at Joint-base Lewis McChord, I was pleasantly surprised to see a very familiar face to the 104th Training Division (LT) (and my personal mentor) sitting  in the front row.  Though rarely in my career had I seen him in civilian clothes, there he was, Brigadier General (Retired) Kurt Hardin, the new Washington State Army Reserve Ambassador (ARA).  Needless to say, during the first break I was quick to welcome him back to the 104th Division Headquarters building as we caught up on both our military and civilian careers where, over the years, had crossed paths many times.  Though nearly two and a half years ago, it seemed like only yesterday I watched from my role as the Commander of Troops (COT) as he passed the 104th Training Division (LT) Command Gideon to its current commander, BG Darrell Guthrie.

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A Message of Love and Appreciation

The buzz of cheerful camaraderie filled the air, an elf surrounded by children created balloon art, and Santa passed out gifts as members of the 3rd Battalion, 304th Regiment (USMA), 2nd Brigade, 104th Training Division (LT) celebrated the holiday season at the Tiqa Pan Mediterranean restaurant, 327 Commercial St. in Portland, Maine.

Tiqa is owned by Deen Haleem and his wife Carol Mitchell. Tiqa closed its doors to the public during the normally busy Sunday brunch hours on December 11th to host the party to honor the Soldiers and Families of the 3-304th. 

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3rd Annual Northern Warfare Challenge

Looking for a challenge that will push cadets both physically and mentally? The 3rd Annual Northern Warfare Challenge is hosted at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, Wis., overlooking the bluffs of the Mississippi River is the challenge that you are looking for.

Take the cold (really cold), snow, ice and wind; add in a 590 foot elevation change on that snow and ice, complete a 22 mile ruck march with 35 pound pack and you have a recipe for an intense challenge. The Eagle Battalion ROTC Department designed this particular challenge course in conjunction with the local community, using existing nature trails which double as skiing trails in the winter and the Wisconsin National Guard and Reserve Center gave the Cadets a place to bunk down the evening before their snowy adventure.

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The More Things Change

I used to believe the old adage, “The more things change the more they remain the same.” As life goes by, I have noticed the potential for cynicism, and a basic tendency towards feeling negative regarding change.  As a general rule, people don’t like change, and especially if the change is thrust upon them.

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Cadet Observations Go Digital

On a scrub-covered hill in the desert, a Soldier plucks an AT-4 from a fallen subordinate and low-crawls to cover while shouting distance and direction of an enemy position.  A team leader seamlessly pivots his team from clearing an objective to reacting to an IED. A squad leader briefly struggles with radio protocol but otherwise excels in leading her unit through a challenging mission. Watching it all, a lanky MS IV Cadet fiddles with his phone.

This is an ROTC squad situational training lane lane and the Senior Cadet evaluating his subordinates is alternating between observing the action and swiping at, pecking at, and talking to his smart phone. The chill of the morning is gone from the terrain and Cadre are running hot. 

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Around the Command

3/104th Chaplain Peter Kim Graduates with Honors from the Chaplin Captains Career Course

Chaplain Peter Kim, 3rd Brigade, 104th Training Division (LT) Chaplain, exceeded course standards and graduated with honors from the Chaplin Captains Career Course, Ft. Jackson, S.C., February 3, 2017, This two-week class, which brought in 24 reserve chaplains from across the country, accesses students’ academic performance, intellectual qualities and communication skills and abilities. Core areas covered during the course included Military Communication, Military Decision Making Process, Team Building and Religious Support for Homeland Defense and Civil Support Operations.     

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Tupelo - A Walk Through the Past

Located in the hills of Northeast Mississippi, Tupelo offers visitors a walk through the past with the boy who would be king, Civil War soldiers who defended this land, and Native Americans who roamed these hills over 8,000 years ago. Tupelo offers an authentic, Americana experience with modern-day amenities and southern charm at its myriad restaurants, hotels, and unique shopping venues. At its heart, Tupelo is full of contagious optimism, making it a Center of Positivity, drawing visitors in again and again.

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Summer on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Splash in to summer on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama’s premier beach destinations, boast 32 miles of sugar-white sand beaches, pristine turquoise waters and a wonderful family-friendly environment. These destinations continue to see generations returning year after year; and with so much to see and do, it’s no wonder. From history-based adventures and fishing excursions to trampoline parks and dolphin cruises, there is something for everyone to enjoy on Alabama’s beaches this summer.

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Spring in the Lowcountry

Located along the South Carolina coastline, just east of Charleston, you’ll find the lively and charming town of Mount Pleasant. Founded in 1680, this Lowcountry town is just minutes away from Historic Charleston and only a short bike ride to some of the area’s finest beaches. Here, the landscape is painted as much by its cool, summer breezes as it is by the people and businesses that inhabit it. Whether you’re looking for a weekend respite, an adventurous getaway, or simply a quick bite, Mount Pleasant proudly calls, “come one, come all!”

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Take Vacationing to New Heights at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal’s thrills are on the rise this spring with a brand-new water theme park and a cutting-edge new ride. Vacation on a higher level with three amazing theme parks — Universal Studios Florida™, Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ and Universal’s Volcano Bay™ water theme park, opening May 25 — unforgettable dining and entertainment and more.

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Plan a grand adventure in Tioga County

Tioga County is home to Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon. Surrounded by 165,000 acres of the state forest, the Gorge is a truly pristine area to visit. Outdoor activities abound: horseback riding, canoeing, rafting, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, fishing, hunting and more!

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ImagineU promotes family bonding, learning

Looking for a place to spend the entire day as a family, playing and learning together? Look no further! That place is ImagineU Children’s Museum in nearby Visalia, and we invite you and your family to visit. A brand-new member of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce, located just 30 minutes from Three Rivers and the southern/main entrance to Sequoia National Park, ImagineU is the perfect place for family bonding in a cool, fun environment designed to easily teach and entertain kids from one month through 12 years. 

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Chattanooga

Chattanooga is the Gateway to Tennessee and is nestled along the banks of the beautiful Tennessee River and surrounded by the spectacular scenic beauty of the mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. You will enjoy a newly revitalized green riverfront city, first class attractions, great Southern hospitality, rich Native American and Civil War history, outdoor adventures and locally owned restaurants & cafes, a thriving arts & music scene with plenty of annual festivals and events that offer year-round fun.

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Celebrating 20 Years of Tourist Trains

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad in West Virginia is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017. For two decades, tourist trains have hauled passengers through some of West Virginia’s most remote terrain with on-board hospitality, good food, and mountain camaraderie.

Located within a day’s drive of some of the country’s biggest cities, the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is a perfect summertime destination for you and your family.

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Welcome to Cedar Hill, Positioned for Success

It doesn’t take very long to figure out you’ve arrived some place special when you come to Cedar Hill. Maybe it’s the pristine natural beauty as you drive into town on our FM 1382 nature corridor, maybe it’s the high-end shopping that makes Cedar Hill the regional shopping destination for parts of four counties, or maybe the warm feeling you get at a restaurant where everyone really does “know your name.” Whatever the reason, Cedar Hill offers the perfect place to live, work and play in an environment that is simply different from any other, an environment where opportunities really do grow naturally.

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Education Without Limits From a School Without Walls

As a military family you understand, better than anyone, the joys and struggles of the calling. You’ve devoted your lives to serving your country, and this decision impacts every person in your family. One of the biggest ordeals of deployment is the travel required. Military families like yours move an average of three times more than civilian families. Statistically your children are likely to move over six times during your military career. Outside of deployment, your family travels for pure enjoyment as well. So you need an education as flexible as your schedule, as portable as your suitcase, and as reliable as possible.

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13 Tips for Your Next Move or PCS

(Information Courtesy of USAA)

Moving is a lot more than getting your stuff from point A to point B — it’s a major life event. USAA provides an extensive PCS Guide to help your relocation go as smoothly as possible. Here are some highlights:

Start saving. Even if the military or another employer covers some of the costs, moving can set you back thousands of dollars. Shipping charges, temporary housing and startup fees at your new residence add up. As soon as you receive your orders, set aside cash each month to cover out-of-pocket costs.

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5 Ways to Maximize Military Benefits and Save Money

(Information Courtesy of USAA)

Between basic training, PCSing and deployment, joining the military presents some unique financial challenges in the first few years of service. But there are also great benefits.

“There are a range of products and services that can really be used as you move through your military career,” says JJ Montanaro, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ at USAA and veteran of the Army and Army Reserves.

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Griffon Association Successful in 2016

The Griffon Association is happy with another successful year. However, I can’t help but repeat that as our membership ages, in order for the association to continue its good works over the long term, the association needs more help from both retirees and current Soldiers in the form of active memberships. To get back up in the 300 plus members we had eight to nine years ago, we initiated some plans in the last couple of years to positively affect that, which have brought some small results but still not at the level we need.

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Suicide Prevention

Suicide can be prevented. Admitting a need for help is a sign of courage. If you need help, please talk with someone in your chain of command, Chaplain, a Behavioral Healthcare Professional or one of the resources listed below. If you know someone who needs help, please refer them to the resources mentioned here. If needed escort them to the nearest medical treatment facility for treatment. In an extreme emergency, please contact 911 for assistance.

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The Griffon Vol. 41.1 (Spring 2017)

The Griffon Vol. 41.1 (Spring 2017)
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The 108th Training Command got its start as part of an elaborate deception prior to Operation Overlord, the D-Day Invasion of France in World War II. The Division was a "phantom" division created on paper and assigned to the First United States Army Group under the command of General George Patton. We were the original Institutional Training (IT) Division and remain one of seven training divisions for the Army, Army Reserve and National Guard. The Griffon is in its 30th publishing year as an award-winning authorized publication written in the interest of the men and women of the 108th Training Command.

  • The Griffon is written and published quarterly in the interest of the 108th National Training Command. It is shipped directly to member's homes and to Training Command bases throughout the U.S.
  • The Griffon is regularly recognized by the Pentagon with their highest rating of Four Stars as one of the largest and most informative authorized publications in the Army.
  • Our members use The Griffon for prescreened, approved resources and opportunities for themselves and their families.
  • The Griffon is required reading material with a message straight from the General.