Not a day goes by that someone doesn't thank me for my service in the military, but they don't know what part of the military I'm in! I'd like to explain.

Some thirteen years ago, I enlisted in my state guard in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. My state guard is an all-volunteer group known as the Georgia State Defense Force. When I first heard about this opportunity, I had no idea what or who they were.

What is the state guard?

It turns out most of the work done by state guards is disaster relief. To prepare for duty, I train one weekend a month and attend an annual training retreat as well.

As with all state defense forces, our missions can be in state, outside of the state, or in very rare instances, missions of mercy beyond our country's borders. The latter was the case when Haiti got hit by the brutal earthquake in 2010.

In the Georgia State Defense Force, we are an all-volunteer group that happens to be highly educated; we have nurses, doctors, lawyers, IT people, and others from all walks of life serving. The average age of volunteers in the Georgia State Defense Force is 43 years old, which is double the age of those in the National Guard.

In addition to Georgia, 22 other states around the country have state guards, not to speak of the National Guard. See my state defense guide to determine if your state participates.

I am so glad I found out about this in the aftermath of 9/11. It's a way for me to give back to my country. The pay is priceless -- since you don't get paid -- but being able to serve my fellow citizens in times of need is wonderful.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

Show Comments 0