The National Guard serves both state and federal governments. The difference between the Guard and other branches is that while Guard units are combat-trained and can be deployed overseas, they are just as likely to serve in their home communities—training just one weekend per month, and one two-week period each year.

During local emergencies, Guard units assist residents endangered by storms, floods, fires and other disasters. Guard companies deployed overseas may see combat, but are often found building schools and hospitals, training local peacekeepers or teaching local farmers more efficient techniques and better uses of their land.

The National Guard is the oldest military branch.

The National Guard’s roots date back to 1636, when colonial militias—made up of ordinary citizens—would put down their plows and pick up their weapons to protect Families and towns from hostile attacks. Today, Citizen-Soldiers hold civilian jobs or attend college while training part time, staying ready to defend America in the event of an emergency.