NEW YORK -- The Soldiers of the New York National Guard's Joint Task Force Empire Shield will star in an Army-produced video set to air in the fall.
The series, simply titled "Soldiers," tells the stories of those who serve in the Army.
"City Soldier", the episode filmed in New York City August 16-18, explores what it's like to be a New York Army National Guard Soldier serving in New York City -- helping safeguard the city transportation hubs.
"When we created the "Soldiers" television series we wanted to create something different, compelling and original," explained Lance Milsted, Chief of Soldiers Broadcasting at the Defense Media Activity at Fort Meade, Maryland.
"We came together as a group and decided we wanted to work with people with diverse backgrounds. We researched the Joint Task Force and they covered a mission that was different than any other military mission," he added.
The documentary producer, Staff Sgt. Jose Ibarra, said he was inspired to include the Guardsmen and women in the series after spending a year working in New York.
He talked to Soldiers on duty in Penn Station, and after learning about the mission, felt it was a great story to tell, explained Ibarra, the non-commissioned officer in charge of Soldiers Broadcasting.
Soldiers Broadcasting is one of the several Army production components that fall under the Defense Media Activity. The office tells military members stories to the public, the news media and service members themselves on TV, the web, radio, and in print.
"I knew that JTF Empire Shield gave Soldiers and Airmen the opportunity to keep their city protected and people like myself felt safer knowing they were there to protect us," said Ibarra, who was the Army's Broadcaster of the Year in 2013. "I knew after meeting them I had to add them to the video series."
The Soldiers video series will be available on the Army website, the Soldiers Magazine Facebook page and YouTube Channel. The episode should be available around Oct. 17, Ibarra said.
Other episodes will feature interviews with Soldiers addressing post-traumatic stress through boxing; a story about transitioning from active duty to the civilian workforce in a bakery that offers work-study for veterans; and a focus on Soldiers and veterans competing in adaptive sports after overcoming severe injury.
Joint Task Force Empire Shield deploys up to 500 New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in New York City train stations and airports to augment the security provided by local law enforcement.
Since Sept. 12, 2001, the New York National Guard has had a security force working in New York City. The current task force grew out of that security presence which began the day after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City's World Trade Center.
The Soldiers and Airmen are in State Active Duty status, working under the orders of New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and paid by the state of New York.
The task force Soldiers are still responsible for attending unit drills, and annual training, along with their daily security mission in the city.
"Since most of the Task Force members are from New York, this responsibility is an honor for them. The job is more personal than simply protecting strangers - it's about keeping family, friends and each other safe and telling our story and how we protect this city is an honor," said Bronx resident Capt. Rafael Ramirez, a task force company commander.
The City/Soldiers production team spent three days filming and speaking with Joint Task Force Soldiers on duty. They also visited task force member Sgt. Saul Pineda-Vega at his Hell's Kitchen Apartment in Manhattan to get a sense of what home life is like for Soldiers who go on duty in New York.
"Having the opportunity to speak about everything we're doing on the task force to protect our city was a great experience," said Sgt. Tiffany Roman, a Bronx resident.
"The service members who interviewed me were so professional, extremely polite, and made sure I was comfortable with speaking in front of the camera," she added.
"My Soldiers and I always enjoy talking about Joint Task Force Empire Shield's unique counter terrorism mission in New York City," said Lt. Col. Peter Riley, the task force commander. "We feel honored to be able to tell our story and now share our experiences on television with our fellow Soldiers."