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Rotarians tour National Guard Armory
Guards role in community emphasized
Wilfered Robinson leads a tour of the new Georgia National Guard Armory in Cumming. - photo by Jennifer Sami

Members of four Forsyth County Rotary clubs were treated Tuesday to a tour of the new Georgia National Guard Armory in Cumming.

The Rotarians enjoyed lunch at the armory, which is a regional readiness center and home to the 560thBattlefield Surveillance Brigade.

Rotarian Tracy Moon said the center, located off Pilgrim Mill Road near the Cumming Aquatic Center and Ga. 400 at Exit 16, “fits with the nature of our community.”

“We’re supporting things that are important, foundational elements of our community,” he said. “It’s the importance of the foundation of country, it’s all sort of things that make this community great.”

Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard, assistant adjutant general, spoke to Rotarians about the armory and the Guard, which provides soldiers whenever and wherever needed for both the state and federal government.

The range of skill sets for Guardsmen and women include aviation, engineering, medical, logistics, transportation and security.

“We have the best Army National Guard [in Georgia],” he said, adding that the state is No. 1 in medical readiness and recruiting and is among the top 12 overall.

“The Army National Guard is in good shape in the state of Georgia,” Jarrard said. “If there is a catastrophic event ... this team is trained to go in.”

The Guard works with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency in hurricane training exercises. Jarrard also mentioned the counter drug task force, with several soldiers serving along the U.S. border, and a youth challenge academy geared toward providing structure and education for high school dropouts.

Jarrard also talked about the Guard’s funding, $680 million of which comes from federal funds, as compared to the state’s $9 million contribution.

He said sequestration is “going to have an impact,” specifically for about 700 full-time technicians, who each must take one additional day per week off work. But even with the cuts, Jarrard told the crowd of business leaders that “a Guard is a good employee.”

He asked the group to consider Guard members as employees, saying they “have discipline and desire to go to work every day.”

The armory, which opened in April, has offered tours in the past. Opening to the community for gatherings such as Tuesday’s Rotary meeting is important, according to Jarrard.

“We are the community,” he said. “We live and work throughout the community, so we’re part of the community and we just want the community to see what we do in uniform.

“We need the community to know where and who we are so in case there is a need for us, like a hurricane or a catastrophe, they’ll know who to call so we can help. For them to know that they have a unit of organization that can help in a time of crisis, I think, is a comfort.”