Officer In The National Guard – New York National Guard Maj. Keith Casserly with an air sampler he uses to survey air pollution particles along bus routes in Albany, New York, in front of the New York National Guard headquarters in Latham, New York, on May 15, 2019. Cass … (Photo: USA ) SEE ORIGINAL
ALBANY, N.I. — For the past few years, when Maj. Keith Casserly wasn’t on the job as a unit commander at the New York National Guard Medical Command, he was in class, at the library or testing Albany’s air quality.
Officer In The National Guard
The work paid off in May when Casserly received a master’s degree in public health from the State University of New York School of Public Health.
Joining The Air National Guard
Casserly was also recognized for the unique research she conducted on bus air quality for her degree. Along with her degree, she received an Excellence in Scholarship Award in Environmental Health Science.
He appreciated that recognition, Casserly said, because master’s programs are not accepted only with high grades. The ability to conduct and present research is especially important in public health, he said.
“This is one of those awards that shows you stand out from your peers and recognizes you for your work,” Casserly said.
That was two years after he became a medical service officer and joined the 24th Civil Support Team as a nuclear science team officer.
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As an Allied Medical Service officer, promotion is based on education and credentials. Earning a master’s degree allowed him to succeed in his military career even after retirement, Casserly explained.
As a nuclear medicine officer for a civilian support team specializing in the detection of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats and weapons, Casserly was responsible for overseeing a high-tech mobile laboratory used for environmental and sample testing.
In 2002, he was included in the 1st Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment and assigned to the National Guard Officer Candidate School. Served with the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, and 153rd Troop Command and earned the Air Assault Badge, Ranger Card, and Passenger Badge. He added the Combat Infantryman Badge during a 2007-2008 deployment to Afghanistan.
“You can only hit the ground running for so long,” he said. “Being an infantry officer is fun, it’s great. But when you go up the ranks, you need something else.”
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Casserly served four years with the 24th CST at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, then transferred to the same position with the 2nd CST at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotland.
In 2017, she assumed leadership of the Medical Command unit and resumed her pursuit of a Master of Public Health in Environmental Science.
He was able to use his military experience and CST-related training to check off some of the 61 credits needed for his degree, Casserly explained.
Worldwide, air pollution, especially in China and other places where coal is still the main energy source, contributes to 4.7 million deaths a year, Casserly said. That’s seven percent of all deaths annually.
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His study looked at air quality for someone driving a car, someone walking on a bus route, cycling on bus routes and someone riding a bus.
Last winter and spring, he spent nights and weekends chasing buses or buses with aerial tracking equipment. Sometimes she brought her son and daughter Ethan and Emma with her, Casserly added.
He was surprised to find that a bus passenger is exposed to finer particles that can cause cancer than a driver, cyclist or pedestrian. He and his adviser expected the greatest danger would be to the cyclist.
In winter, the change in temperature causes air to flow in and out when the door is opened and then closed.
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That action draws diesel exhaust and particulate matter into the bus, he said. It also picks up any particles that were on the floor or on the passengers themselves and allows them to be inhaled, he added.
So in late May, seven years and three schools after he started, Major Keith Casserly received his master’s degree. According to him, his wife Sylvie is very happy.
The New York State Veterans Education Assistance Program provides financial loan assistance to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. He also joined the Go Ed program, which provides money to Guard members, Casserly said. Army National Guard members conduct a promotion ceremony at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait on Dec. 9, 2021. (Sgt. Kyle Burks/Army National Guard)
National Guard officers are waiting an average of more than seven months for state and military officials to process their promotion documents, and lawmakers want to know why.
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On Thursday, Sen. Tammy Duckworth — D-Ill. and a retired National Guard lieutenant colonel has introduced new legislation calling for major reforms to the National Guard Bureau’s federal recognition process, which he says unnecessarily complicates the promotion of Guardsmen and hurts readiness.
“I know guys who have had to wait and wait and wait and said, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore,'” he said. “There are individuals who wait a year for recognition.”
Should the National Guard follow orders from the Pentagon? Sometimes. The Pentagon says the National Guard must stick to its policy, but the reality is more complicated.
The measure would require an external audit of the National Guard’s promotion system and require retroactive pay for delayed promotions up to 60 days from the date the individual’s promotion package is submitted.
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That could mean several hundred dollars in extra cash for officers facing the longest promotion delays.
But Duckworth said it’s more important to fix the system so mission schedules and plans aren’t disrupted by long waits for progress.
According to the Department of Defense, the average promotion for warrant officers and warrant officers in the Air National Guard is about 210 days. Army National Guard promotions currently average about 240 days. Active peers typically have about half the wait time.
Duckworth said he believes the problem stems from outdated paper systems used by National Guard recyclers and a lack of oversight over the matter.
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“I think if Pentagon leaders put their minds to it, they can fix it quickly,” he said. “But I think we need to send a message that this is important.”
Duckworth’s bill is likely to be included in the Senate’s upcoming debate on the annual defense authorization bill, the most comprehensive military policy legislation to pass Congress in five-plus decades.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee (including Duckworth) have already begun debating preliminary drafts of the bill and are expected to submit a compromise committee draft by the end of next month. House and Senate leaders are expected to spend most of the summer negotiating a final version.
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Leo covers Congress, veterans affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policy. His work has won many awards, including the 2009 Polk Award, 2010 National Leadership Award, IAVA Journalism Leadership Award and VFV News Media Award.
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“I’m pushed to my limits, both physically and mentally, in both jobs,” she said. “But the best part is the people. You will never meet more amazing people who are dedicated to helping or serving.”
Gary must know about the type of people
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