We heard from Col. Thaddeus D. Finneran on November 11, 2022 at Lincoln South Rotary Club. He provided us with information about the Nebraska National Guard and National Guard of the US and shared the benefits of a career with The Guard.
Col. Finneran opened by explaining that there are three components of the US Army. They are:
  • US Army - Active Duty.
  • US Army Reserve.
  • Army National Guard.
The US Army Reserve and Army National Guard are both reserve units, prepared to be mobilized overseas as well as serve locally to support local community needs. They uphold the orders of the President as well as the Governor under the statutes that established the National Guard.
The Nebraska National Guard has a dual mission - Army + Air Force. Most of the work falls under Title 32 of the United States Code. That outlines that the control of the National Guard is under the control of the State. If federalized, then the work falls under Title 10 which provides the legal basis for the roles, missions and organizations under federal control.
The National Guard is community based and relies on community partners such as the Chambers of Commerce and organizations like Rotary. They live and work in our communities. To set up and maintain facilities and training, they need community support.
Col. Finneran shared the core capabilities of the Guard:
  • Air refueling
  • Rotary-wing aviation
  • Medical
  • Engineer
  • Firefighting
  • Transportation/Maintenance
  • Military Police/Security Forces
  • Cyber Protection
He pointed out that rather than being highly specialized, they have many general capabilities. He shared some of the specific recent areas of support.
  • Testing, Vaccination support during COVID
  • Engineering - both building and excavating
  • Strong firefighting forces
  • Support during civil unrest during riots - interagency cooperation is strong; including support presidential inauguration
  • Rescue - after the floods of 2019 aviation rescues; also helped with security and safety in the aftermath
  • Election support - ensure all polls had staff; provide security so that poll workers could focus on their work
Col. Finneran talked about the State partnership program where a State guard is matched up with a foreign country. They train together and share experiences. Nebraska is partnered with the Czech Republic and recently set up a second partnership with Rwanda. He talked about the benefit of the state partnership between Ukraine and California - how the sharing influenced some of the actions in Ukraine.
Soldiers are not successful without their families and their community support. Since the soldiers are often serving the community, they are very visible and the community embraces them. Employers need to allow them time away. Schools understand the difficulty of the families when their parent is away. Soldiers support each others - and their families. Knowing it is difficult when a spouse is away, they rely on each other.
Thought employers are required by law to allow the soldiers time away, they work hard to maintain a good relationship between employers and the Guard. One example is scheduling training well in advance so the soldier and employer can plan for the time they will be away. Many companies like to hire National Guard members for three reasons:
They know how to show up to work on time
They work hard
They tell the truth
That is one benefit for being a member of the Guard. There are many other benefits such as education and healthcare. As a member of the Guard a person can continue to work or go to College while working on their military career.
Col. Finneran shared that these are some of the things that drew him to the Guard. The benefits are great. He is able to serve his Country but while coming home to the same home every evening. Because he chose the Guard, his kids have been able to stay in the same school rather than moving around.
He talked about the recruiting challenges. He said out of every 100 people about 25% qualify (physical, medical and legal requirements). Of those 25 about 9 are willing to serve. He often talks with school counselors and others in position to help guide youth. Many seniors in high school still do not know what they will be doing in June. We can help by sharing his stories and passion.
COL Finneran is an aviation officer and has commanded at all levels in the Nebraska Army National Guard.
Most recently, he commanded the 209th Regional Training Institute at Camp Ashland.
Prior to that he was our state‚Äôs director of Army aviation.  He commanded the 1-376th Aviation Battalion (Security and Support).
COL Fineran is also very active in the military and veterans community in Lincoln. He is a member of the Veterans Memorial Garden Advisory Council and very active with the National Guard Association of Nebraska, to name but two of his volunteer efforts.