Column: Meet your local neighborhood Cal Guard recruiter
Living your life in the guard
–By Staff Sergeant Leo Castillo
There are so many misconceptions and a lack of understanding out there of what our California Army National Guard is and does. Well, I’m here to help!
I have always found it interesting how many of us don’t know what the National Guard is or does. Sure we hear the big bang booms and wonder what that could be, and yes, it’s normally Camp Roberts training. However, we are much more than that.
First off allow me to introduce myself, I’m Staff Sergeant Leo Castillo and I am your local California Army National Guard Recruiter here in Paso Robles. I’ve served on active duty for 21 years and now serve in the California Army National Guard.
Not only am I a local recruiter, but I also volunteer as a board member and currently sit as board president for the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation. I’m about to finish a term as a city planning commissioner. I’m a member of the Paso Robles Sunrise Rotary Club and help my daughter sling girl scout cookies to all you fine folks. Now this isn’t just a “hey look at me I’m so great,” but rather a hint at what we are as National Guardsmen. We are among you, we are your teachers, we are your police officers, we are your firefighters, we are local chefs, we are correctional officers, contractors, mechanics, and lawyers (shout out to Dan Dow), we are members of this community.
See, we not only serve our country and our state, but we also serve our communities. Some of us travel two hours for our monthly training, some just head right down to Camp San Luis Obispo. Being a citizen-soldier is not as easy as it sounds. Living your life on guard has its challenges that not only affect you, they also affect your family, your employer, and your friends. As life goes on for others, your life on guard will always be different.
What is a citizen Soldier you ask? The National Guard was founded in 1636 as a citizen force or “militia” organized with the intent of protecting families and towns from hostile attacks. It is one of the oldest elements of the U.S. military, pre-dating the Continental Army organized for the Revolutionary War. The National Guard soldiers were called “Minutemen” and were instrumental in the early battles of the Revolutionary War, especially the battles of Lexington and Concord. The National Guard Has also participated in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War. The number of guardsmen allocated to each state varies. California is one of the larger states, so we have thousands of guardsmen throughout the state.
The National Guard has evolved so much over the years and has a unique mission and commitment. All of our men and women have unit-driven requirements for their time served. The service is one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year. However, each unit has different mission sets and those timelines and requirements vary. There are options to also be a full-time guardsman and they receive the same benefits and pay as the active component.
Now you may think to yourself this guy is just trying to enlist me in the military? Well, let me just say… are ya interested?
In the next few weeks, I look forward to sharing and highlighting these citizen soldiers that live among you. I will also share information about what we do as an organization, as well as a healthy dose of dad jokes.