Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Shields, adjutant general for the state of New York, announced New York Guard Pfc. Nicholas McKinney from North Tonawanda, serving with the 10th Area Command, received the Operational Support Medal during recent unit training events.
The New York Guard is a force of 500 uniformed volunteers, organized as a military unit, who augment the New York National Guard during state emergencies. Members provide administrative and logistics support to the National Guard. In 2020, the New York Guard supported flood control efforts along the Lake Ontario shoreline in the summer and has been part of the statewide COVID-19 pandemic response since March.
Unlike members of the New York National Guard, New York Guard members do not have a federal military role and do not deploy outside the state. New York Guard members usually train on a volunteer status and are only paid when they are placed on state duty during emergencies.
The New York Guard, one of 23 state defense forces around the country, is authorized to recruit just over 1,000 volunteers who are organized into units located across the state. Currently, there are 500 New York Guard members.
Roughly half of New York Guard volunteers are former members of the active duty military or National Guard who bring a wealth of experience to the force, while the other half have no prior military service. Previous military membership is not a requirement for New York Guard service.
Those who have served in the military can serve in the New York Guard up to age 68. Those who have never served in the military must be between age 18 and 55 to join.
The New York National Guard (New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs) is the state's executive agency responsible to the governor for managing New York's military forces, which consists of nearly 20,000 members of the New York Army National Guard, the New York Air National Guard, the New York Naval Militia and the New York Guard.