LATHAM, N.Y. — New York Governor Kathy Hochul applauded the recruiting success of the New York Army and Air National Guard, and thanked Soldiers and Airmen for their service to New York and the nation, during a visit to New York National Guard headquarters on Thursday, Dec. 28.
“No matter what happens, you’re trained, you’re ready, and you’re committed,” she said.
“As the governor of a state of 20 million people, to know that you have stood up and answered the call, every one of you, it’s really special to me,” Hochul said.
Hochul made her short visit to the Latham headquarters to acknowledge the positive recruiting numbers of the New York Army and Air National Guard.
She spoke to recruiters, addressed members of the headquarters staff, and conducted an oath affirmation ceremony for new recruits.
For the third year in a row the New York Army National Guard led the nation in Army Guard recruitment in fiscal year 2023, according to Army Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York.
Currently the New York Army National Guard is at 107 percent of authorized strength, with 11,100 Soldiers assigned, Shields said.
And for the first three months of new 2024 federal fiscal year —the months of October, November, and December— the New York Army National Guard recruited more Soldiers than any other state in the country, Shields told the audience.
The New York Air National Guard has also had recruiting success, and currently stands at 101 percent of assigned strength with 5,766 Airmen, Shields said.
Ensuring that the New York Army and Air National Guard are at full strength is important for both the United States and New York State, Shields told the governor.
“It sends a clear message to our nation’s adversaries that our commitment to national defense and the defense of freedom remains strong,” he said.
“It also ensures that when you need military support during times of crisis here in New York, we have the personnel available to respond,” Shields said.
While speaking with Army and Air Guard recruiters, the governor thanked them for the work they do.
“This is a big deal for us,” Hochul said. “We are number one.”
“I am proud of what we have accomplished here,” she told the assembled recruiters.
While speaking to the headquarters staff, Hochul emphasized that success in recruiting was something every Soldier, Airmen and civilian employee could be proud of.
“To be number one in the nation, when it comes to recruiting and retention, it’s a tribute to all of you, to the leadership team and to the culture that’s been created here,” the governor said.
She also greeted and shook hands with 12 new Army and Air Guard recruits who took part in the oath affirmation ceremony.
Being part of the event and getting to meet the governor was impressive, said Army Pvt. Madison O’Connor, a Lathem resident who will serve as a combat medic.
“I’m very proud to be here,” she said. “I’m very honored to serve New York State and I am proud to be in the National Guard.”
Airman Skylar Ferrera, an aeromedical technician in the 109th Airlift Wing from Sprakers, New York, said being part of the event “was an awesome experience.”
In her remarks, the governor pointed out that just one year ago, the New York National Guard mobilized more than 500 personnel to help the city of Buffalo cope with a massive blizzard that killed 47 people.
“I knew when I called in the National Guard that it would give a sense of hope, a sense of we’re going to be okay,” she said. “And that’s exactly what we achieved.”
The New York National Guard has been there responding to floods, storms, and an unprecedented national mass migration crisis, Hochul said.
At the same time the New York National Guard has sent people to help Ukraine, to the southern border, to Africa, and Kuwait, and even Antarctica, where the New York Air National Guard supports research scientists, she said.
Serving the nation is in the DNA of New Yorkers from the Battle of Saratoga in the Revolutionary War to today, Hochul said.
“That legacy continues with each and every one of you. So, you do me proud. You do your families proud. You do your state proud,” the governor said.