DEBRA HOWELL: Good morning, everyone. It's a military event, so we will be starting on time. What starts on time ends on time, as they used to tell me. Good morning. I'm Debra Howell, Chair of the Cornell Veterans Colleague Network Group. And I'd like to welcome you, our friends and colleagues, to our Veterans Day celebration.
Thank you and welcome to our distinguished guests, Brigadier General Biehler, Lieutenant Colonel Comerford, President Martha Pollack, Vice President for Human Resources, Mary Opperman, Associate Vice President for Inclusion and Belonging, Sonia Rucker-- and welcome to Cornell. I think I'm missing him. OK.
All right, thank you. I'd like to begin with the land acknowledgment. Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogohono, the Cayuga nation. The Gayogohono are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign Nations with a historic and contemporary presence on this land.
The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and the United States of America. We acknowledge the painful history of Gayogohono dispossession, and honor the ongoing connection of Gayogohono people, past and present, to these lands and waters. This land acknowledgment has been reviewed and approved by the traditional Gayogohono leadership.
Let's begin today by recognizing all those among us who have been part of the great fellowship we call the US Military-- our veterans, active duty service members, National Guard, and reservists, if you're able, please stand to be recognized.
Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Today is observed annually and honors all of our military veterans. November 11 was chosen as the date because the major hostilities of World War i were formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when armistice with Germany went into effect. At the urging of major US veteran organizations, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954. While we intentionally pause today to recognize veterans, it is important to remember that veterans are defending us and need our support 365 days a year.
I was an army reservist soldier, and I'm the granddaughter of a Navy Seaman. And when I think about Veterans Day, I always think about my grandfather. He was a member of the military until the day he passed away. When I bought my first house, the first thing my grandfather did was to put up a flagpole and a flag at my house. Around Veterans Day every year, he'd show up and he'd say, I guess you better get in the van.
And I'd get in the van, and he would be taking me somewhere, whether we were going to a cemetery to put up flags, or clean gravestones, or whether-- one year, he had me putting up fencing around some old graves he'd found on a walk. And he was not about to see any soldiers or service people not remembered in the way he felt they deserve to be. I'm now also the mother of a soldier who is a veteran of our current war.
So Veterans Day means a lot to me, to my family. And I think it's really good to pause and remember on Veterans Day, once a soldier always a soldier is a real thing. We all feel that, but our families do as well. I love the saying because I was also the wife of a soldier through five deployments, and those who wait also serve. And I want to honor our families as well.
Today is also the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a sacred Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery dedicated to deceased US service members whose remains have not been identified. Its inscription reads, "Here rests in honored glory an American Soldier, known but to God." The tomb has been guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 1937. It's a people's memorial that inspires reflection on service, valor, sacrifice, and mourning. And so at 11:11, we're going to pause. The chimes are going to chime a 21-bell salute, and we will be in silence while that happens.
Before that happens, I'm going to begin to introduce Brigadier General Joseph Biehler who is speaking with us today. Brigadier General Biehler currently serves as the Commanding General, 53rd Troop Command. Previously, he served as the Deputy Commander for operations for the 42nd Infantry Division. Biehler was commissioned as an infantry officer in May, 1987 and has held positions as a rifle platoon leader, mortar platoon leader, support platoon leader, company commander, battalion supply, operations and executive officer, division liaison officer, and battalion commander before leading the 27th Brigade.
Prior to his command of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, he was commander of the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry. He was the Battalion's operation officer during its deployment to Iraq in 2004 and commanded the Battalion during its deployment to Afghanistan in 2012 as Task Force Iron. Biehler is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Infantry Officer Advance Course, Combined Arms Staff Service School, Intermediate Level Education, Infantry Pre-Command Course, Army War College, Airborne School, Air Assault, and Ranger School. I think we should all pause here for an appropriate hooah, or hoorah, or whatever your hoo is, right? Hooah, sir.
Biehler was born in Rochester, New York and graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School in 1983. He has earned Bachelor's of Science degrees in both Accounting and Management from St. John Fisher College in 1987. Biehler's Awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Secretary Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Global War on Terrorism, Basic Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab, and Combat Infantryman Badge.
He and his wife Sonya live in Webster, New York with their twin sons, Thomas and Andrew. Biehler is Finance Senior Manager for Rochester's Harris Corporation in his day job. And he is here to speak to us today about the role of the military in supporting state crisis.
So as we think about state crisis, we've had several over the last 20 years and most recently, the pandemic. And our own Randi Rainbow, who is the Director of IT for Human Ecology here at Cornell-- how many months, Randy? Nine, 10-- has been activated during the pandemic for nine months serving the state in its response to the pandemic. And we're very grateful for his service in that.
And very interested to hear what general Biehler has to say about the military's role in supporting state crisis. OK, I have about four minutes left. OK, so I want to make this just a little bit more personal. I'm a walker when I speak, if you can't tell. I'd like to make this a little bit more personal on Veterans Day as we think about this, as I think about my role and all of the families that I've supported.
I did a lot of volunteer work with the Army Yellow Ribbon Program, which is a program that helps army folks and their families prepare for, get through, and return from deployments. And I have been so grateful to be able to be in service-- in addition to having been in the service-- but to be in service to our military members and their families as they cope with deployments.
I've learned a lot from them over the years. I have my own complicated history with the military. And I'm very proud to be a veteran. I am proud of all the veterans that I know. I saw a great quote this morning pop up on my Facebook feed that said, a veteran really means-- I want to get it right.
"What is a veteran? A veteran, whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserve is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount of up to and including their life. That is honor." So thanks to all of our veterans here today. And I'm so proud to welcome you to our first Veterans Day event in a lot of years. Thank you.
I'm going to pause while we wait for the chimes.
Thank you. Please welcome to the stage Brigadier General Biehler.
JOSEPH BIEHLER: Well, good morning, everybody. And thank you very much for inviting me here today. And I want to wish everybody a very wonderful Veterans Day. One time, I gave a Veterans Day speech. I was mentioning all the different war veterans we had. And I made a mistake. I didn't mention World War II veterans, and we still have, really, in our population some World War II veterans still alive.
There is not many of them. They're getting old, and they're passing on. But we have a lot of veterans now out there. And so I wish everybody a happy Veterans Day. My fellow brethren out there and in uniform there, it's good to see you guys.
And I wanted to tell you, it was a great tour this morning and seeing a little bit about the history of Cornell. And it's very unique that you see a college that provides a support to the military and embraces the military like it does here at Cornell. That's unique. You see it that at the service academies, and you expect that. You don't necessarily see it at a civilian college. And that's quite wonderful because our history of the military has gone, really, full fold.
When I talk to people about the National Guard, well, the National Guard has its origins going back, really, to the Revolutionary War, when militias were formed, and they fought in the Revolutionary War. And then the next big time you see them was in the Civil War.
And if you ever have the opportunity to ever go to Gettysburg or Antietam Battlefield, you'll see the monuments to regiments. You've seen them to the 108th Regiment. 108th Regiment's one of the current regiments still in New York State. Or the Irish regiment, which gets its foundings from New York City, the fighting 69th and out of Massachusetts.
But it was a little bit of history. When you go into the memorial down the hill, there are division patches that are up on units that fought in World War I. And two of them are still there. Two of the patches are still in the New York Army National Guard. The first one was the 42nd Infantry Division.
And I always tell this story because I just came from the 42nd. And the 42nd goes back a hundred years-- 1917, when World War I was raging over in France. And basically, it was the Germans against the British and the French, and it was a stalemate for years of fighting.
The army formed and needed to build some more divisions. They had the New York Division, which is, as you heard, I commanded the 27th Brigade. That's part of the 27th division. And that patch is there as well. It's a unique patch. When you look at it, it's a round patch.
And it overlays the letters NYD, which stands for New York Division. And it's surrounded by a cluster of stars on the patch. Well, that's the Orion cluster. And it's in honor of the very first division commander, who was General John Orion. So in honor of him, they put that together.
But the other patch is the rainbow patch. And during a time of World War I, as the US was starting to get in the fight, they needed more forces. We didn't have a big army at that point. And so he was a chief of staff-- not the chief of staff of the Army. He wasn't a chief of staff.
He was a Lieutenant Colonel. His name's Douglass MacArthur. And he decided that he came up with the idea that we needed to build a division out of soldiers, and we build them out of units that were across from one end of the country all the way out to California.
And he said, wow, the 42nd Infantry Division's like a rainbow, covers a country in a rainbow. So it was a full rainbow of the division patch. And then the division went over and fought in over in the war. 1918, the war ended. And the division unfortunately lost half of its forces to casualty. So they cut the rainbow in half and that is the patch that you have today is the half of the rainbow.
And about a couple of years ago, we celebrated the centennial of the division. It's one of New York's divisions. So we went over with the division, and we toured the battlefields over there in France. And you get an appreciation. The trench lines that were fought that they had there,
I always talked to-- asked my soldiers, you ever read the-- when you grow up, you read the book, the All Quiet on the Western Front? Not everybody's reading that so much in the schools anymore. But that's a story about a soldier during World War I and about the trench fighting. And those trenches still exist there. They're grown over. But they have monuments set up.
They have streets over in France named after the 42nd Infantry Division, or the 27th Division, after all these divisions because they French really appreciate everything America did in fighting, and liberating, and defending France against the Germans. And just last year in 2020, the division was celebrating its 75th anniversary from World War II, where the division liberate the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. So a lot of history with the National Guard. So those units still exist today. So those are units that fought in World War I and World War II and then more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan as we were fighting those wars.
But you have on your War Memorial, there's 264 names of Cornell students graduates who died in World War I. And there's the service members from and graduates of Cornell soon as serving in the National Guard, we have a long list of individuals that have done it. And the National Guard is a significant part of the fighting force of the military.
So when I talk about some people don't have an understanding of the National Guard, when you look at the total army, there's about a million-man US Army. And I'll talk it from the army side because I spent my life in the army. But it's also the Air Force, and Marines, and the Navy.
The Marines and Navy more have the reserve force, and the National Guard is part of that reserve force, but more of your combat formations are in the National Guard. So the National Guard's one army serving today. And if you look at a National Guard soldier, you look at a regular army soldier, it's the same. They have the same equipment, same uniform, same standards.
And so the National Guard makes up a part of the defense of this nation. And we have two missions in the National Guard. And this is one of the things that separates us from the active Army. The active Army, one of them is they're full-time, and they're working. In the National Guard, as I tell folks, we work a lot of weekends, and we do a lot of training, and we go off and do a lot of training.
But the National Guard has a federal mission, like all the active forces, is defend. Basically, fight and win our nation's wars. We have that mission. But the National Guard has another mission, which is to support state crisises. When we're in a traditional National Guard status, our boss is the governor of the state. And so we have two missions that we work with in the National Guard.
So when I got commissioned in late '80s to join the National Guard, at that time, the only memory they had of the National Guard being called up was in 1979, 6,000 state prison guards decided to go on strike, and they left the prisons. And Governor Carey at the time activated 12,000 national guardsmen. And they went into the prisons, and essentially ran the prisons for about two weeks. And then they settled the strikes.
But I was looking at pictures of that. And they were running the-- feeding the prisoners, make sure they get them out, make sure they-- but they had to control it because all of sudden, you didn't have nobody in that. And you can imagine what happens if you don't have anybody managing those prisons. People will die. Things can happen, and so on.
And then, really, the next time the Guard was called up was 1999. It was September. I remember, the state fair was going on. And there was a microburst that hit Syracuse and knocked down a lot of trees. And the Guard got called up. A handful of Guard got called up. It was called Operation Chipper. And the reason it's got its name because the soldiers were out there with chainsaws and chippers and essentially opening the roadways to clear the roads. And that was 1999. I remember that very well.
But then something big happened, and that was September 11, 2001. In your life, people have memories of significant things that happen in your life. You ask people, though. When I was growing up, you ask the older folks, they remember the day they were or where they were when President John F. Kennedy was shot. Or maybe, you remember when the space shuttle Challenger blew up. But US-- in the room here, I imagine, just looking around, everybody has a memory of where you were on September 11. That changed everything. I remember, I was in meetings at work. And get out, and I had my voicemail was blown up with messages. And the message was, we're at war. Get into your unit.
And I tell my soldiers this that when you look at any one day, you look at the image of all the flights are in the air at any one time, hundreds and hundreds of flights, these little-- they're represented by dots. And within 12 hours on that day, there was not one single dot flying. Everything went grounded. It shut down everything. It was huge.
We got attacked in New York City, as we know. And we just saw this past September was our 20th anniversary of that incident, and the Pentagon got hit with a plane. Well, the New York Army National Guard got activated that day. We have units down in New York City. I mentioned the fighting 69th, which goes way back. Those guys got activated. They went into there. They brought everybody in, and they actually issued them rifles. And they went out and they set up perimeters around New York around Ground Zero. And they started shutting down New York City. And that was a big event.
Not everybody got involved in it. I was in my unit. Actually, I was in my unit here. I was a Company Commander. In Ithaca, I had a unit. And we were just waiting for a few days to finally get some orders. But that time changed everything. That was a turning point, when you go back 20 years of where the Guard has really changed to where what we do today and how much we're involved in supporting our local governments. I mean, we went essentially from setting up a security around the perimeter of Ground Zero. We then put soldiers in the airports because TSA wasn't up and standing at that time. So if you guys were flying into our airports, you would see soldiers there. And they were there for security. And they had the rifles.
And then we went to the power plants. In New York City, we have three power plants. And for years, we had soldiers on because the thought was, well, if they could attack buildings, what's to say they can't attack the power plant? So we kept soldiers on the power plants.
And now, if you go today, you'll go down to Penn Station, you'll see soldiers on duty there as security. And so we went from that to where, now, you see us, we have many hurricanes that have gone on. We got called in for hurricanes. So we are regularly pulled out as a National Guard to respond to winter storms. A few years back, there was a heavy winter storm up in Buffalo. We had soldiers there. There was a picture of them standing on a nursing home shoveling off the snow coming off the roofs and open up the roads.
Flooding happens. Every now and then, we have floods going on around Lake Ontario, and we bring the soldiers out, and they help with the flooding. Or they do food distributions.
So that was very unique. That was a unique time in 9/11. Well, we just had another one that we're still trying to get out of and, that was COVID-19. And that was very significant. And what happened with that is that the epicenter was generally in New Rochelle, New York was when we started getting a lot of the positives and the cases started coming up. And the Governor Cuomo at the time activated the Guard, and we went from initially setting up these test sites-- so the vehicles would come in. They use the National Guard. Go in, and they would swab individuals. And essentially, it was trying to get an assessment of how much of this pandemic was spreading. And we used the National Guard for that.
And then very quickly-- and this was happening around the world-- the hospitals got overwhelmed. And the capacity was going too far. So then we set up the Javits Center down in New York City, which is a big convention center. And they converted it basically into a hospital at the time. And then from there, for this last year, once the vaccine came out, the National Guard was running all these vaccine sites throughout the state, where the goal was trying to get as many people vaccinated.
And during that time of the pandemic, I mean, soldiers were running those sites, running sometimes food distribution. One other thing that we had to do was-- and it's unfortunate, and we did it also during Hurricane Sandy was we pulled dead bodies out of homes because people were expiring. And the coroner's office was just overwhelmed. So they were doing it.
And there's pictures of soldiers. Sometimes there's veterans. And they pull a deceased veteran out, and they do they do all the proper ceremony. They salute them. And they put them in freezer trucks, and then they further get taken care from the coroner's. But what happens is a pandemic like that happens, it's similar to a 9//11 in effect what it does to us as a society.
So 20 years ago, what happened with the National Guard, the National Guard went from really a strategic reserve to now an operational reserve. And really, the difference is that the reserve and the Guard is called upon a lot more. So today, we still regularly send units off on deployments to the Middle East, to Africa, and into Europe. Last year, I just came back from the Middle East. That mission still goes on. So we are constantly still deploying our forces. And that's all part of the one army, one defense of this nation.
In the military's role in supporting civilian authorities, it happens because what happens to the civilian side is that they become-- they reach a point where their resources and their capabilities have become overwhelmed. So if you look at a flooding that happens, all of a sudden now, you're overwhelmed in an area because of flooding or a hurricane. And our civilians have recovery vehicles, and they have EMS.
They have fire trucks. But they become quickly overwhelmed. And that's where the role of the Guard comes in is that the Guard can be pulled in and fix, and help civilian authorities. And we work for the civilian authorities. And in our ultimate purpose, when you think about using the Guard, it's to save lives and mitigate human suffering. That is the purpose of the National Guard when it gets called in.
So for example, when the microburst happened in 1999, the National Guard was there to cut down trees to open up the roads. It wasn't there to clear roads. So we just opened up the roads. Clearing roads became a civilian responsibility. So it's to save lives and mitigate human suffering.
And there's a couple of ways of how the National Guard ends up getting called out to assist local authorities. It always begins-- most always, really, with the governor. The governor activates the National Guard. So Governor Cuomo did that last year with a test sites and COVID. He's also done in the years past. As Lake Ontario flooding has occurred, he brings in the National Guard. Brings them on what's called State Active Duty. And they supplement the local authorities with those efforts. So for the flooding, it's helping to put sandbags. It's helping to put things in to prevent the flooding to prevent being overwhelmed of the communities.
And then the President can do it. And he can declare a public health emergency. So the President Trump did that last year in California and New York. And he declared them a public health emergency or a major disaster declaration. So Hurricane Sandy-- eventually, the President called that. At the time, that was a national emergency.
And when the governor activates the National Guard, it's paid for by the state government's fund. So when you bring soldiers on, that funding initially is funded by the governor. But once the President declares a public emergency, then most of that funding is paid for by the federal government. And FEMA comes in, and everything is paid for by the federal government.
And this has occurred many times. Now sometimes, what happens-- and this happened just last year-- active forces are brought in as well. And there's usually a stand up a commander. There will be a dual status commander of active forces and National Guard forces. And the reason you bring in active forces is there are certain capabilities that don't exist in the National Guard or the Reserves that the active duty has. So during Sandy, there was an active unit that came in that had some pumping capabilities that we used.
But last year, what we had is we had active Air Force medical people, and we had the Navy ship came into the harbor in Manhattan that was a floating Navy hospital because the hospitals were overwhelmed. And also, at the same time, the National Guard was getting overwhelmed because we were assisting because the pandemic just took a big foothold, and it was just-- so we brought in the active forces to support that. And that all occurred last year. And then once you got ahead of it, then they pulled off.
And as I mentioned, we go in to save lives and mitigates human suffering. And so the military is not authorized to take part in law enforcement activities. But what you'll see-- and we saw since the January 6 incident on the Capitol, we activated a lot of National Guard from just about every state was brought down for a couple of months down to Washington DC. That was a security mission. So you'll see where soldiers are part-- they help enhance the police force, but they're not there for policing.
So you never will see the military be police forces. It's called Posse Comitatus Act. And it prevents the military from going in and being a police officer. It's not a good image. We don't want to do that. You don't ever do it. But you'll see us as security. So when you see a soldier down at Penn Station or at the airport, as I talked about before TSA was around, that was security.
And the weapons are there for their self defense. Now the President can override that if he declares an Insurrection Act. And that happened-- the last that happened was during the Rodney King riots back in the early '90s in LA. I don't know if folks remember that. There was a brief period of time they enhanced that. Again, you look at the National Guard. It's to save lives, mitigate human suffering.
And there's a lot of good reasons why you bring in the military. The primary reason when you look at the military, the military can essentially come in and can reconstruct and repair infrastructures. They can do food distribution. We can set up field hospitals. We can do security. The military almost can create instantaneous infrastructures. That really comes from our training because what we do when we fight and win a nation's wars, that's what we do when we go into countries. You defeat the enemy, and then you establish communication.
You establish security. You start creating a logistics supply. That's all part of what we do as a military. So the military is very well capable for doing that when you have a national crisis, a hurricane, because we can go in, and we have the equipment that can do it. And the military is also very good at problem solving. We train for wars. We train for reactions.
We have what's called Battle Drills, which are really like-- they're a collection of rapidly executed tasks where we rehearse and train them. So in the time of a pandemic or in a time of a hurricane, there's not a whole lot of deliberate planning. It's instantaneous because you really got to-- your planning timeline has to be short. So we go to battle drills.
So in the National Guard, we have vehicles staged, prepped, ready in case of an incident happen. Natural disaster happen, we're ready for it. We do it both for the hurricane season. I mean, they're on call all year round. But then we have periods of time-- hurricane season, when we get to the winter storm season. We are ready on a standby because we want to save lives and mitigate human suffering. So you've got to be quick in. And we have a lot of we have a lot of capable equipment. We have these high-wheel base trucks.
And Sandy, they can go-- where they can go? They can go into flooded areas because they're well up. We have hundreds upon hundreds of Blackhawk helicopters. We used helicopters during the Puerto Rico hurricane. The helicopters were pulling people off the roofs of their houses. You couldn't get in there because they're all flooded. And field hospitals, like we did for COVID, we were able to set those up. So we can do a lot. We can do a lot to provide support to civilian authorities.
And there's some downsizes that I would like to mention when you use the military. One, it's very expensive when you call up the military. As I said, it starts with the state, and then it goes to the federal government. But it's a very expensive-- it's a big bill to deploy the military.
It also can impact the military's readiness, which is your training time. So this last year was a big impact on the military, especially the National Guard. From the COVID pandemic-- and things they shut down. But we brought on a lot of our forces to deal with the COVID pandemic. And then we brought on even more forces to deal with the security around the Capitol. So what happens when you do that, those units aren't training to fight and win our nation's wars because we still have those requirements. And that's the balance we have in the National Guard is that you've got to be ready to go and fight, but when you get pulled into those missions, it decreases your training time.
Sometimes, the lines can be blurred when you start mixing the military with your first responders. And you don't know who. Are they here as police, or they are the police in the lead? And ultimately, what it is is the Guard is there in support of the civilian authorities. The civilian authorities always have the lead. So if you have a fire marshal or a fire department, they're the incident commander. We're in support of them. We're in support of the police. We are not police. We just support them.
And now, so the last thing is the military has certain capabilities that's meant for warfighting that you don't ever want to use on our civilian population. And we have some of those things. And then, really, ultimately, all that equipment, all that capability we have in the National Guard, that's meant for warfighting. That's really what it's there for. So when you look at the helicopters, the trucks, we have cranes, we have engineer equipment. That's meant for our warfighting.
And we make up-- as I said, we make up half of the fighting army. And we've been called up a lot in the last 20 years. Some of the possible reasons-- because it really did change. When I mentioned that it was the 1979 prison strike, and then it was the 1999 incident, and then 9/11 changed us. So the last 20 years, we got called up a lot, a very good amount of time, especially in New York State.
Possibly climate change. Maybe we have greater hurricanes, and we have greater wildfires. There's wildfires that happen in California all the time-- Colorado, the Guard is used for that. Flooding happens. There's also been increase in extremism, so you bring in the Guard to support some of those cities that are getting overwhelmed or police forces are getting overwhelmed. And then I think even more, the visibility of the military in the last 20 years, of us fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nation has seen us. They see our capabilities. They see the success we have and they know us now. They know the military. So it makes it an easy option to say, well, let's bring in the National Guard.
Maintaining our readiness is important. I mentioned that. And like I said, the more we respond to domestic operations, the less of our readiness. But I would say that the National Guard is not your Homeland Defense Force. It's not it's not a stopgap. It's not like a let's fill this position here.
So I'll give you an example is we-- recently, there was talk of using the National Guard to drive school buses or even pick up garbage because of lack of people able to do that, especially with the COVID mandate. There was word that was going to happen. Well, that's not necessarily a good use of the military to be driving buses and picking up garbage because the military is just a plug. And it really should be a short-term fix, and then you pull them out.
But I tell you what-- there is no greater image and no greater comfort and relief when our citizens see the US military. They see the military come over, and time and time again, we know that the military is involved. It helps our communities. It's there for a purpose. And it is to relieve that suffering.
And so we always will have this role in the National Guard of supporting state crisis. We will always have that. We just are balancing it. And ultimately, what it comes down to-- and I'll leave you this-- is our leadership, our senior military leaders and our governors, our President have the balance that. They have to go, when do we bring in the Guard and when do we not? And our Senate.
So our current governor, Colonel Holcomb, very, very supportive of the National Guard, and she understands it. And I think it was on the discussion about driving school buses, I think that backed up because we're her resource in the New York National Guard. But she knows she doesn't want to keep on tipping that and pulling that. Doesn't want to be a solution for all. Let's balance that because we've got to defend our nation.
So it's been an honor here. I'm glad to see our cadets and midshipmen here and our veterans-- a lot of veterans. It was a pleasure to see everybody and getting the tour today. And I really appreciate you inviting us down and just being able to share some of my perspectives of my time in the National Guard. So thank you very much.
RANDI RAINBOW: So for those who are not aware, there's a military tradition, and it's called coining. And the idea of coining is a way of giving someone something that represents the unit that you're with as a way of saying that we're proud and that we would like you to always remember your time with us. And we have a Cornell Veterans coin for the General.
JOSEPH BIEHLER: Thank you very much, Randi. Thank you very much.
That's great. Thank you.
RANDI RAINBOW: We also have some other ones to give out for some people that have been very close to the Veteran community. For instance, Mary Opperman-- we know that Mary is not going to be here much longer. We wanted to make sure that we also give her one. And so thank you very much for the support that you've given to the Veterans community over the many, many years that you've been here. Thank you.
DEBRA HOWELL: So thank you again to Brigadier General Biehler. I'd also like to thank the members of the Veterans Colleague Network Group Executive Committee and our support team-- Randi Rainbow, Jase Baese, Emily Franco, Captain Tony Roach, Dave Juers, Rick Roper, Mary Fisk, Craig Wiggers, Jeramy Kruser, and Lauren Eilers-Lloyd. Thank you, everyone, for joining us today.
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With Brigadier General Joseph Biehler
Speaking on "The Role of the Military in Supporting State Crises" Thursday, November 11, 2021
Brigadier General Joseph Biehler currently serves as the CommandingGeneral, 53rd Troop Command. Previously, he served as is the deputycommander for operations for the 42nd Infantry Division.
Biehler was born in Rochester, New York and earned Bachelor's ofScience degrees in both Accounting and Management from St. JohnFisher College in 1987. Biehler's awards include the Bronze Star Medal,Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal National DefenseService Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Global War on Terrorism,Basic Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab, and theCombat Infantryman Badge.