Published Saturday, March 02, 2013
From Staff Reports
Brig. Gen. Joe Jarrard talked about the Georgia Army National Guard and its work at the annual meeting of the Georgia Farm Bureau.
Jarrard’s father, the late Tom Jarrard, was born in Newnan. Joe Jarrard, commander of the Georgia Army National Guard, gave GFB members an overview of the Army National Guard’s many programs.
Georgia Farm Bureau held its 75th annual convention from Dec. 2-4.
Jarrard pointed out that the U.S. National Guard was set to celebrate its 376th anniversary on Dec. 13. “The Minutemen, the farmer-citizen, is what started our militia, so we have a common thread there,” he said.
Of the 11,100 soldiers who serve in Georgia’s Army National Guard, only about 1,500 are full-time employees, Jarrard said. The remaining troops are guardsmen who serve one weekend a month and a couple of weeks in the summer.
Although most members are weekend warriors, Jarrard said National Guard members have never been as prepared as they are today.
“It’s true in Iraq and it’s true in Afghanistan. As you tour the battlefield you can’t tell the difference between active, reserve or national guard, mainly because everyone’s been over there multiple times during this war on terror the past 10 years,” Jarrard said.
In addition to being trained to respond to natural disasters, biological threats and search-and-rescue missions, two teams of Army National Guard soldiers have served in Afghanistan as part of Agribusiness Development Teams, and a third team is scheduled to deploy this year.
These teams, members of the 78th Homeland Response Force, are working with Afghan farmers to help them improve their farming practices.
“Afghanistan is way behind us in terms of farming technology. While I was serving in Afghanistan I saw a man plowing with a donkey – attached to a stick, weighed down by a rock,” Jarrard said.
“These teams also include female soldiers who teach the ladies how to raise chickens. It’s a great effort our soldiers are doing,” he said.
Jarrard praised Georgians for the appreciation they show military members.
“About 80 percent of the soldiers in the Army Guard joined after 9/11. They didn’t join wondering if they would have to serve. They joined knowing they would have to serve,” Jarrard said. “While we hope and pray for more peace, we have to be prepared.”
Other speakers at the Jekyll Island conference included Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black. More than 1,700 Georgia farmers and agribusiness leaders from across the state attended the meeting, which included a trade show and commodity conferences.
Tom Jarrard’s mother, Virginia Trammell Jarrard, spent her childhood on a Coweta County farm between Moreland and Luthersville. Her husband, Bonnell Jarrard, was a textile executive and the nephew of Juan M. Jarrard and Henry Grady Jarrard, who pastored Baptist churches in Coweta and Meriwether counties.
Tom Jarrard grew up in Gainesville, was a Vietnam veteran and returned to Gainesville where he practiced law for years. He died in 2007.