Inside and out.
Since 9/11, the concept of National Guard members simply being "weekend warriors" has all but disappeared. Guard units have regularly deployed and fought alongside Active Duty Army troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and continued the peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and other parts of the world—in addition to mobilizing during domestic disasters. To suggest that Guard Soldiers today are any less fit, trained or tough than their full-time counterparts would be way off the mark. First Lieutenant Daniel Grachanin (right), with the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma National Guard, knows something about toughness. After serving in the Air Force, he was commissioned into the National Guard four years ago as an infantry officer. During a recent nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, he received two Purple Hearts for injuries received during an ambush and a close-quarters firefight. Since returning to the States with his unit in March, he has been working with other wounded warriors—specifically, tracking the status of Soldiers from the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team who are in Warrior Transition Units around the country. Grachanin checks in on their recovery and makes sure their needs are met. He sees a broad range of injuries—primarily PTSD—but for the most part, he sees Soldiers tackling their rehabilitation head-on and healing from the inside out. "When people think about combat arms and toughness, immediately they think about Saving Private Ryan or 300 or Spartacus," says Grachanin. "Being an infantry Soldier, there's a certain need for physical toughness. But realistically, what it comes down to is mental toughness. For a Soldier to be truly tough, it takes spiritual and mental toughness, and then applying that to his physical body." And he didn't say anything about doing it only on weekends.