An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | Nov. 7, 2022

Family Programs new orientation shifts focus from Guardsmen to families

By 1st Lt. Balinda O'Neal Alaska National Guard Public Affairs

The Alaska National Guard Warrior & Family Services is on a new mission to ensure every Alaska National Guard family is educated about the resources and information available to them through a new program named Guard Smart.

The Warrior & Family Services team christened the program with a mixture of new and seasoned Alaska Air and Army National Guard families at the AKNG armory on JBER, Nov. 4.

“Until now, we haven’t had a program or orientation like this,” said Carissa Jones, a soldier and family readiness specialist with AKNG W&FS. “This orientation is different because it focuses on the families and not only the service member.”

From medical and educational opportunities to military etiquette, the full-day orientation provided resources, services and tools to help AKNG families and service members navigate civilian and military life. The team also discussed the vast network of support agencies created to aid them and encouraged the families to network during the event-sponsored lunch.

During the program, the AKNG W&FS team recognized both the strength and sacrifices military families face and emphasized that even if they do not wear a uniform they are an essential part of the organization.

“When our service members and their families are taken care of, when they feel valued and supported, there is a sense of relief in knowing they can focus on their mission. In return, a family can take on a deployment or activation easier when they know they have support at their fingertips,” said Jones, who worked with the AKNG W&FS team to develop the program over the past several months.

“No service member, nor military family should ever have to struggle,” said Jones. “We are here to help support through military and civilian life.”

The AKNG W&FS has 18 programs and a team of 35 professionals that provide guidance and promote readiness through confidential no-cost support. Even with the network of programs and group of diverse experts, the team said that Alaska families still miss out on resources available to them.

“As a military spouse myself, I can say this with love, our service members tend to not think the information is needed or they have dumped it by the time they get home because it isn’t work related. It’s not intentional it just happens,” said Jones, who has spent over 20 years as a military spouse. “When things are going well, you don’t think you need the information.”

The program also counters the more traditional notion that family is only a group of individuals united by ties of marriage, blood or adoption. The Guard Smart program extends family to the broader concept of chosen family – unrelated loved ones who share a significant personal bond with the service member.

Jones said that the program is not only open to parents and siblings, but also roommates, coworkers and friends – anyone who wants to be more involved in the service member’s life.

The Warrior & Family Services will continue affording families and service members the opportunity to meet new people, learn about the Alaska National Guard lifestyle and get to know available resources by offering quarterly programs on JBER and bi-annually across the state at multiple locations. For information or to sign up for future Guard Smart orientations, call (907) 428-6663.

The AKNG W&FS team plans on continuingly developing their programming to suit their families’ needs. They are always on watch for new ways to provide assistance and appreciate feedback from families and service members.

To stay up to date on future events and provide feedback to enrich AKNG W&FS’s programs, visit their Facebook page at The Alaska National Guard Family.
Alaska Air Guardsmen assist National Park Service rescue of Denali climber
May 24, 2023
Alaska Air Guardsmen assist National Park Service rescue of Denali climber

Alaska National Guardsmen, State Defense Force deploy to Bethel, Circle to assist with flood recovery
May 23, 2023
Senior Airman Sean Lake, 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, loads gear at Eielson Air Force Base in preparation to help with debris-clearing operations in Circle, Alaska, May 23, 2023. Four Guardsmen and one member of the Alaska State Defense Force will assist with cleanup and flood recovery efforts at the request of the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center. (Alaska Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey)

Alaska's Best Warrior Competition Award Ceremony
May 21, 2023
Command Sgt. Maj. John Phlegar, left, the state command sergeant major of the Alaska Army National Guard, pins the Army Commendation Medal on the 2023 Soldier of the Year, Spc. Adam Macro, a military police Soldier from Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion during the Best Warrior Competition awards ceremony held at Camp Carroll, Alaska, May 21, 2023. Throughout the week of May 16, 2023, the Best Warrior Competition tested Soldiers on their physical and mental readiness as well as their knowledge of Army doctrine and common warrior tasks.

Alaska Army National Guard HH-60 hoists injured backcountry skier off Girdwood mountainside
April 20, 2023
On April 19, 2023, an avalanche broke loose at the top of a mountain near Girdwood, Alaska, pulling a backcountry skier 800 to 1000 feet down the face. The red box indicates the injured skier and rescue team. The Alaska Army National Guard’s Golf Company, 2-211th General Aviation Support Battalion received mission request from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center and rescued the skier with a hoist-capable HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter specially designed for medical evacuations.

Bartlett High School JROTC Takes Flight With Alaska Army National Guard
April 14, 2023
Bartlett High School JROTC Takes Flight with Alaska Army National Guard

National Guard, tribal consortium team up in St. Mary’s, Western Alaska
April 6, 2023
Alaska Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Sharon Queenie, a surveillance technician with the 176th Air Defense Squadron, gives a presentation to students from her hometown of St. Mary’s, Alaska, during a recruiting initiative in partnership with the Association of Village Council Presidents at the Andreafski High School, March 31, 2023. The Association of Village Council Presidents recently partnered with the Alaska National Guard to provide recruiting information and resources through their Tribal Job Centers. The initiative kicked off in St. Mary’s with presentations from AVCP and AKNG, where representatives interacted with students, parents, teachers, and community members. AVCP provides community development, education, social services, culturally relevant programs, and advocacy for the people and 56 tribes of Western Alaska.

Alaska Air Guardsmen medevac patient from Little Diomede
April 5, 2023
Alaska Air Guardsmen medevac patient from Little Diomede

Alaska Army National Guard ‘First Scouts’ awarded state’s highest heroism medal for 1955 rescue
March 29, 2023
Alaska Heroism Medals sit ready March 28, 2023, for the ceremony at the John Apangalook Memorial High School gymnasium honoring 16 Alaska Army National Guard First Scouts for their heroism during a 1955 rescue mission after two Russian MiG-15s shot down a U.S. Navy P2V-5 Neptune plane flying a routine maritime patrol over the Bering Sea with 11 sailors on board.

Bethel’s Cama-i weekend a flurry of activity for Alaska National Guard
March 27, 2023
Bethel’s Cama-i weekend a flurry of activity for Alaska National Guard

Alaska Guard, Reserve interoperability aid arctic mobilization proficiency
March 24, 2023
Alaska Guard, Reserve interoperability aid arctic mobilization proficiency