The South Dakota National Guard is hosting its annual training this summer and that means military members from around world are in the state to get some real world experience.
That training includes some community building and outreach projects Indian Country.
The guard delivers timber and firewood, helps vaccinate animals, and undertakes construction projects in places like Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge.
Guard members call the outreach and training efforts win-win.
Captain Mitch Nachtigall coordinates the community projects the South Dakota National Guard undertakes in the state. He says guard members get valuable training when they work in places like Pine Ridge.
“The program really is set up in that we provide training value to our soldiers and airmen to give them the best training they can get in their trades whether it be engineering, transportation, medical, veterinary things like that. And then the other benefit of that is providing a benefit to community organizations in their endeavors,” says Nachtigall
Guard members are working on a number of projects this month including delivery of firewood and timber to Cheyenne River and help with building projects at Thunder Valley CDC community project on Pine Ridge. Census data shows that Native Americans serve in the United States Military at higher rates per–capita than any other group. Captain Nachtigall says Guard efforts to work in Indian County help recruitment efforts maintain good relationships with tribes. He adds that any non-profit in the state is eligible to apply for help from the National Guard during its annual training.