And That Distinction Goes to Laramie

LARAMIE – The Wyoming Army National Guard selected Laramie as the site of its first storefront-style recruiting office in the state. The office has been open for a few weeks, but on Wednesday, invited the community to meet the local recruiters at a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house.

Bailie Scott, operations director for the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance and a member of the Red Carpet Committee of ambassadors who co-hosted the ribbon-cutting, was one of over 30 Chamber, National Guard, and community members who welcomed the new “business” to the Laramie community.

“We are so very pleased that the National Guard selected Laramie as its first storefront recruiting office in the state, and we welcome them,” Scott said.

Wyoming Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Mike Pezeshki welcomed everyone, saying he cannot thank the Wyoming and Laramie communities enough for their support over the years.

“This is one of the most supportive states I have ever been in regarding military service. I want people to understand that one of the biggest things we tell our soldiers, is that when a citizen shakes your hand and thanks you for your service, they are understanding the hardship and the duty you are providing to this country. I tell them, ‘That handshake is as important, if not more important, than the contract you signed to join the Army. You have to respect that, and always understand how to conduct yourself.’”

Sergeant Steve Allred and his daughter, Pryor, dig into the treats offered to guests at Wednesday’s open house at the Laramie Army National Guard recruiting office. Allred is one of the recruiters who will operate from the new office, along with Sgt. 1st Class Danny Gumm and SFC Travis Ayers. (LaramieLive photo/Tom Kocal)

 

Laramie has been the site of the Wyoming Army National Guard Armory, 133rd Engineer Company, located at Yellowstone Road and Armory Drive, for many years, and are in the process of constructing a new facility west of Laramie near the airport. The current facility is leased from the University of Wyoming.

“However, the new location will be a way out of town, making it difficult for recruiters to meet for appointments and interact with the schools. We had the opportunity through the National Guard Bureau to request a storefront recruiting office, and this is one of the best recruiting areas, with the university and high school right here,” Pezeshki said.

The Laramie recruiting office in a storefront is a pilot project and is the first of its kind in Wyoming.

Pezeshki said there are three recruiters assigned to the Laramie office. One is dedicated to the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, ROTC; one is dedicated internally to Laramie, working with high school students and adults in town; and a third recruiter to work in the neighboring communities.

The National Guard has a dual state and federal function. In peacetime, the Commander-In-Chief is the governor. The Adjutant General directs the Air and Army National Guard in times of war. Wyoming Army National Guard includes army aviation, construction engineers, field artillery and medical asset units.

“A lot of the things we do are state missions. We were kept busy during the blizzard! Our unit in Laramie is an engineering company – a mixture of heavy equipment, like dump trucks and bulldozers. In Rock Springs, we have carpenters, masons, electricians, and plumbers,” said Pezeshki.

“We provide certified vocational opportunities. All the skills that soldiers learn here, transition into the civilian world. Even with other Guard responsibilities, like field artillery, offer benefits, because they are automated. The IT, computer and technology use is a valuable component for our soldiers that will really propel them in the private sector because of the knowledge gained in the Guard. And it is cutting-edge training because military technology advances at such a rapid pace in order to stay ahead of our adversaries.”

Pezeshki added that the soft-skills acquired in the Guard are just as valuable in civilian life as they are in the military.

“Critical thinking skills, leadership skills, and communication skills learned during their time in the National Guard are major professional benefits for our soldiers.”

As much as the National Guard is a part of Army operations, Pezeshki wants the public to understand the differences between a federal military and a state service operation.

“We welcome parents, business leaders, and the community, in general, to visit our storefront and inquire, get more information about us. We have 22 recruiters throughout the state – Wyoming is the 10th largest state in the nation and is the least populated – so it’s difficult for them to reach out to the public.

“Parents can learn about the opportunities we can provide for their children. We are a catalyst of service, but not necessarily military service. It is important for our youth to have some service orientation, to have some diversity of knowledge to take through life. It helps make them a better person,” Pezeshki said.

“We are probably one of the best part-time gigs with some of the best benefits that you can imagine, between our medical insurance, pay, college tuition, and multiple opportunities. We are no longer just a state active duty function, then off to war. Right now, we have a medical unit in Tunisia conducting a 3-week exercise with the Marine Corps, gaining more medical training. We have the Reservist Exchange Program with other countries, like Denmark, Germany and the United Kingdom. They send reservists to train with us, and we select soldiers to train with them.

“It’s a growth opportunity for you to diversify your resume. What you learn here will transition into the civilian world. You will need a competitive edge to compete. And the National Guard pays you to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Wyoming is a 100 percent tuition assistance state. Wyoming guardsmen receive 100 percent tuition if they attend a Wyoming school and meet other criteria.

Pezeshki has been stationed in Laramie since 2008. Originally from Utah, he left active duty in the Army in 2005, joined the Wyoming Guard and was commissioned as an officer, and went on deployment in 2006 before returning to Wyoming in 2008. He is joined by his wife and her three children, two who attend Laramie schools, and a daughter who will graduate from the University of Wyoming this year.

The new “pilot” recruiting office is located at the UW Plaza, 2523B Grand Ave., in Laramie. Visit https://www.wyomilitary.wyo.gov/guard/army/ for information on the National Guard in Wyoming.