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Soldiers Train To Offer Support From Home

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As more and more Maryland troops are called to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s a special group of soldiers trained to offer support from home.

As Gigi Barnett reports, this weekend it was their turn to report for duty.

When the Army National Guard is off to war, these are the soldiers who step in to take their place at home.  They are members of the Maryland Defense Force, a small, well-trained group of citizen soldiers with one goal: to support the Maryland National Guard.

These soldiers have day jobs.  They’re doctors, lawyers and technicians.  The defense force allows them to turn their on-the-job skills into military expertise.  Now that the state is in the middle of one of the largest deployments since World War II, their service is vital.

“Our people are able to fill in some of those gaps, as well as again on a daily basis to provide professional services that the National Guard either does not have within its ranks or could not afford to have within its ranks,” said Brig. Gen. Courtney Wilson, Maryland Defense Force Commander.

The Maryland Defense Force has a little more than 400 soldiers.  It’s 100 percent volunteer and recruiters say for retired veterans, this is a way to continue to serve.

“We are seeing a lot of veterans come back.  They really clung onto it.  It’s kind of like a good addition, where they’re addicted to service to their country and service to their state,” said Lt. Jeff Ludwig.

This weekend, the Defense Force hosted its muster day, a chance to take roll, sharpen skills and strengthen camaraderie.

“We are a true family.  We would go to bat for anybody, we would do anything for anybody.  No questions asked,” said Captain Cindy Minken.

In addition to Maryland, about 18 other states have defense forces including Georgia, Indiana and Alaska.

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