MILWAUKEE — In the past year, every single member of the Wisconsin National Guard, except those still in basic training, has been called to serve in some capacity. That's a total of 10,000 people. Some of those members have been mobilized 8 or 9 times.
These days leading up to Inauguration Day, and after, will be some of their most critical work to date. 500 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers will be in Washington D.C. helping keep things safe and secure.
Other guard members are already deployed in Madison helping protect the state capitol.
“For operational security reasons, we're not releasing the number mobilized in Madison,” said Major Joe Trovato.
On NBC’s Today Show, New York City’s former police commissioner called out Wisconsin as one of the states that national security leaders are paying special attention to.
"There is some concern about four states that have had a history of armed militia, have very lax gun control laws in terms of open carry, etc.,” Bill Bratton said. “Those states are Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan. They are particular areas of concern because of past events."
It's been a record-setting year for the Wisconsin National Guard.
Troops were mobilized to lead COVID-19 testing and help with vaccine distribution.
They worked four separate elections in our state, and led what they call “public safety missions” during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wauwatosa, Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and Green Bay.
Plus, Guard members were deployed to fight California wildfires and to help with missions overseas in the middle east and beyond.
"Since 1837 when the Wisconsin National Guard first came into existence, we've never had such a large sustained domestic mobilization in our history,” Major Trovato said. “The COVID response alone has been our largest domestic mission in history. We really have been asking a lot of our service members, their families, and employers.”
The service of National Guard members is unique.
“We live and work in communities all across Wisconsin, and when we get the call, we drop what we're doing in our civilian lives - we leave our families and our jobs - and we answer that call for our community, our state, our nation," says Colonel Mike Williams.
Colonel Mike Williams is the Executive Director of the National Guard Association, and leads Wisconsin's branch of "Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.” He says the past year's demand for National Guard soldiers has had a ripple effect on some businesses.
“We're seeing some concerns from employers about the number of mobilizations this past year, and the duration of those mobilizations, and how that's impacting their business,” Colonel Williams said.