To the Editor:
It's the holiday season across America, a time when Hoosiers share a part of themselves with friends, family and the community.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy estimates that Americans will donate more than $48 billion around the holidays. Millions of people will give their time to food pantries, toy drives and school and religious groups -- so this is maybe a good time to consider ways to help your neighbors, all year, with the gift of safety and security.
The Indiana Guard Reserve, or IGR, offers Hoosiers a unique chance to serve their neighbors by helping the people of Indiana during a natural or manmade disaster. The IGR is a community-based military organization that assists the Indiana National Guard and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security in state missions.
The IGR is what is known as a State Defense Force, or SDF. A Heritage Foundation study reports there are 23 SDFs across the country, with tens of thousands of members. State governors determine the role of their forces.
In recent years, hundreds of Indiana Guard Reservists have provided security at a major hospital after severe flooding, aided in tornado damage assessment, and assisted the Indiana State Department of Health with the handling of influenza vaccine.
Hoosiers may already be familiar with the IGR without even knowing it. Guard Reservists also provide security and logistical assistance at planned events, such as the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-marathon, Indianapolis Air Show and various charity fundraisers.
IGR soldiers do not get paid for their duty; they simply want to serve their fellow citizens. Members come from all walks of life. When not volunteering, they are students and professors, attorneys, police officers and everything in-between. While many IGR members have prior military experience, many others have discovered that this is their way to "give back" to those who have served before them.
As such, they are great examples of "Hoosiers serving Hoosiers," which is the organization's motto. They encourage you to get involved.
For more information about the Indiana Guard Reserve, visit the website at http://www.indianaguardreserve.us.
1st Lt. Terry Heifetz
Public Affairs Officer
Indiana Guard Reserve