By Sgt. Dustin Jordan, South Dakota National GuardNovember 15, 2019
SPEARFISH, S.D. -- For some, the military is a way to see the world while learning the skills to become successful in life. However, for one South Dakota Army National Guard Soldier, it is about so much more. For Spc. Jacey Garcia, it is about continuing a family legacy and helping the community where he grew up.
"My family has been in the military for as long as I can trackback. My father was in Vietnam, my uncle and grandfather were in the Marines, and my father's uncle was in Korea," said Garcia. "All the way back to my great-great-grandfathers, we were always warriors."
Garcia is a member of the 155th Engineer Company in Wagner, where he serves as an interior electrician. He chose to be an electrician to gain skills to help him fix things around the house and have a skill set to put on a resume.
Outside the National Guard, he is pursuing his degree in education from Black Hills State University in Spearfish. Garcia says the military has given him the skills to be successful in his first year of school.
"My parents and the military have instilled discipline in me," said Garcia. "When there is something to get done, you have to go do it. It does no good to wait around. That has really helped me stay on top of things in college."
Garcia is a member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, he took some time to explain the importance of the observance to him and his people.
"It's really important for people to know the history of our country. It is good to recognize our mistakes from the past -- the way that Native Americans were treated was wrong," Garcia said. "Having a month dedicated to Native American people is important because it gives us the opportunity to learn and talk about our history. It gives Native Americans a bigger stage to share our culture."
Garcia recognizes that the National Guard allows him to be a role model and a voice for the people on the reservations. He believes it is important to use his position in the military to help the people from where he is from.
"I think it's important to understand that there are all types of people in the world and they all struggle in different ways," said Garcia. "It is important for us to use our voices for good. I want to learn as much as I can and do the best possible for my community."
Garcia chose the National Guard so that he could help the people from the community where he grew up.
"When you do something within your community, and you know everyone personally, it makes it feel that much better," said Garcia. "If the Guard does a project and helps a family out, and you know that family, it really makes you feel a sense of pride."
He reflected on the types of people he has met during his time in the National Guard.
"Before I went to basic training, I was only around Native Americans and white Americans in my community. I didn't have very many relationships with different types of people," said Garcia. "The military has allowed me to get past mental and social barriers towards other people that I had growing up. Some of my best friends in basic training were people that were completely different than me."
Garcia says helping people in his community is what he enjoys the most about being in the National Guard.
"The feeling you get and how you can make someone else feel by helping them leaves an impression on you," said Garcia. "If I help somebody, and they really benefit, it gets me motivated to go out and do it again."
Garcia has some advice for anyone thinking about joining the National Guard or the military in general: just do it!
"Don't be that person that says I was going to join, but I just didn't," said Garcia. "The military will teach you much more than you ever thought it could, and you are going to get to do a lot of stuff with some awesome and amazing people."