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National Guard recruiting office opens in Marietta

Photo by Michele Newbanks The ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday afternoon at the opening of the Ohio Army National Guard recruiting office in the Lafayette Center in Marietta. The ribbon is stretched by Sgt. Kevin Deely and Sgt. Lee Dimmerling, while Washington County Commission President David White, Staff Sgt. Bonnie McGrath, Lt. Col. Sy Gladden and Marietta Mayor-elect Josh Schlicher wait for the ribbon to be cut.

It’s been nine years, but Marietta once again has an Army National Guard recruiting office.

A ribbon cutting and open house was held Friday afternoon at the new location in the Lafayette Center in Marietta.

“I wanted to highlight two things. For us, it’s a celebration primarily of having the opportunity to open up this storefront here in Marietta. It is a great part of the state of Ohio and a great piece of history from our lineage as National Guard members,” said Lt. Col. Sy Gladden. “The other thing to celebrate today, and the reason we did it was, today marks the 383rd birthday of the National Guard here in the United States.”

He explained that the National Guard traces its lineage and roots back to the first militia that stood up in 1636 in Massachusetts.

“Marietta has a significant part of our Ohio National Guard lineage as it was here in Marietta where Gov. Arthur St. Clair organized the Northwest Territorial Militia on July 25, 1788,” Gladden said. “We’re very pleased and happy to be back in the community and to have a storefront where we can work with the citizens and the potential applicants here in the community that are interested in continuing the history and service that we have here in southern Ohio, and in particular, Marietta.”

Marietta Mayor-elect Josh Schlicher spoke briefly about the Army’s core values before Washington County Commission President David White gave a little history about the National Guard in Marietta.

“In 1788, when the first pioneers came here, the first American regiment was stationed here in Marietta at Fort Harmar,” White explained. “So, people need realize that the fort that sat over there was the first Pentagon in the United States.”

Staff Sgt. Bonnie McGrath will be the face of the Marietta office of the Army National Guard. She is a Morgan High School graduate and decided to enlist when she realized she was working two jobs and her yearly salary was only $13,000.

“I joined the National Guard initially just for the education benefits and I’m going on 12 years now,” she said. “For me, it’s the camaraderie of the soldiers that keep you in, being part of something bigger than yourself and holding yourself to a higher standard.”

Diane Farrow, marketing director for the Ohio Army National Guard, said, like McGrath, a lot of youth enlist for the education benefits.

“I think for a lot of kids, it’s the 100 percent paid tuition that is a big benefit because they can’t afford college otherwise,” she said. “Probably 68 percent of our folks that join, join first just to get their college paid. That’s 100 percent at any state college. That’s huge, especially with student debt the way it is.”

Sgt. Maj. Justin Sprankle said the tuition benefit is immediate after enlisting.

He added having an office in Marietta gives them a chance to get back in touch with the community on a day-to-day basis.

“We’ve always covered every part of the state, but to have an office here instead of commuting from a different county forges a better relationship with the town,” he explained. “The history of the area, the population here, it’s kind of an untouched part of Ohio, being so close to West Virginia.”

He said there will be two people assigned to the office on a full-time basis.

“But because of the location (of the office), there will be folks in and out of here in uniform all the time,” Sprankle said.

McGrath said the office hours will be 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday with possible hours on the weekends, starting this Monday.

“Maybe after the holidays, we’ll work out some weekend hours,” she said, noting the recruiting office will have an open door policy and anyone can stop in.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

If you go:

• What: Ohio Army National Guard recruiting office.

• Where: Lafayette Center, 440 Pike St., Marietta.

• Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Some weekend hours.

Source: Staff Sgt. Bonnie McGrath.

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