Kansas National Guard hosts Black Hawk flight in Dodge City

For specialist Brian Flores, signing on with the Kansas National Guard has been a highlight.

“National Guard has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life,” Flores said. “Actually the best decision.”

Flores spoke at the Recruiting and Retention Black Hawk helicopter flight May 23 in Dodge City, Kansas. Area community leaders, school officials and media representatives were invited to a presentation about the Guard and later were able to take a 30 minute ride in the helicopters. During the presentation, Flores described what he’s learned from being in the Guard.

“It has taught me discipline,” he said. “It’s taught me the leadership, the Army core values—loyalty, duty, respect, self-service, honor, integrity, personal courage.”

He admits he’s grown as a person too.

“I’ve grown into a man,” he said. “Not due to just learning but also becoming a soldier. National Guard’s taught me so much.”

Flores is part of Taskforce Bronc Buster out of Garden City, Kansas, near the Garden City Community College campus. He’s hoping the Guard will pay for his education and allow him to attend Pittsburg State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice after finishing his degree at GCCC.

National Guard members are able to use federal tuition assistance that covers a portion of the cost of school. Kansas also offers a state tuition assistance program.

Maj. Robert Sands, executive officer Kansas Army National Guard recruiting battalion, said the tuition incentives are one reason many people enlist, but he hopes opportunity is also one of the reasons they serve.

“The opportunity to serve our community, our state, our country,” Sands said. “We are Kansans. Everyone has either been born here or moved here and chose to stay. We are active duty where we work and live.”

The purpose of the Black Hawk flight was to help educate the communities about what the National Guard does.

“It used to be a point in time where every city in the state had an armory in it and everybody went to that armory,” he said. “Well, the Army gets smaller and that in turn makes the National Guard get smaller.”

The footprint within the communities has gotten smaller because of it, and Sands said that’s why events like the Black Hawk flight are important.

“That’s why we’re here is to educate you about who we are, why we exist and then in turn you tell those young men and women of character in your communities—educate them about the national guard,” Sands said. “Let them know what the options are.”

For more information about the Kansas Army National Guard visit www.nationalguard.com.

Kylene Scott can be reached at 620-227-1804 or [email protected].