Clay National Guard Center, Marietta, Georgia, September 8, 2015, By PV2 Michael Chapman - Members of the Georgia State Defense Force (GSDF) join for a variety of different reasons. Some members join because of a lifelong interest in the military, some join because they enjoy being active and outside, while others join for the comradery and teamwork. One reason for joining given by nearly all GSDF Soldiers is a desire to give back to their communities by serving others. That spirit of service is what led one new Soldier to join the GSDF. Danala Thomas, a native of Atlanta, joined the GSDF in 2014 and graduated from Initial Entry Training (IET) in April of 2015. Since graduating from IET, Pvt. Thomas has participated in six GSDF missions. One recent mission was a field training exercise (FTX) at Fort Stewart.
Located thirty miles outside of Savannah in southeast Georgia, Fort Stewart is the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River. In July, the 122nd Regional Training Institute, the education and training arm of the Georgia Army National Guard, hosted a Military Police (MP) training academy at Fort Stewart. The goal of the course was to test the MP students on five essential tasks: Maneuver and Mobility Support, Area Security, Internment and Resettlement, Law and Order, and Police Intelligence Operations. Pvt. Thomas and several other GSDF Soldiers were called upon to provide support for the MP course. During the training exercise, Pvt. Thomas and her fellow Soldiers role played various scenarios for MP students to train on. Training scenarios such as car accidents, driving under the influence, domestic violence, and issuing “be on the lookout” warnings were all part of the MP academy. GSDF role players gave the MP students a real world environment in which to train. Working with GSDF role players, the MP students practiced securing a potentially hostile environment while also preserving any nearby evidence. The MP students trained to protect themselves and to ensure the safety of the victims during the exercises. The training was meant to simulate the type of high stress environment an MP could find him or herself in someday. After the training exercise, Pvt. Thomas said, “the mission at Fort Stewart was a great experience. I hope our team enhanced and sharpened their skills. The feedback we gave was appreciated by the instructors.”
Pvt. Thomas and the members of the recent MP exercise typify the GSDF. Like all Soldiers, Pvt. Thomas must balance her GSDF duties with her responsibilities at home, school, and work. When Pvt. Thomas is not on a mission with the GSDF, she is a small business owner, a student at Clayton State University, and a humanitarian who has participated in mission trips to Peru, South Africa, and Uganda. Even with her hectic schedule, Pvt. Thomas, like all GSDF Soldiers, finds time to serve the people of Georgia. Pvt. Thomas said it best when she said, “my short experience with the GSDF has been more rewarding than I imagined and the opportunities to serve are endless.”