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California National Guard Reaching Out to LGBT Community

California National Guard

Chief Warrant Officer Mario Garcia, right, joins other members of the California National Guard during the L.A. Pride Parade on June 9, 2013.

California National Guard

The California National Guard decided to lead the way when it came to recruiting gays and lesbians. Throughout the summer the Guard marched in Pride parades around the state, carrying a banner that read, “Yes! We really do want you!!!”

Captain Will Martin said the Guard is making a conscious effort to reach out to the LGBT community.

“And we didn’t want to public to have the perception that we are simply complying with the appeal,” he said. “Being a part of California, we actually want to reflect the demographic of California.”

Senior Master Sergeant Elaine Samborski is a recruiter for the Air National Guard. She said the response so far has been very positive.

“Many of the stories that we hear are from people who were interested but, because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, made the decision not to join,” she said. “We also have a large number of people who come to us who did serve and left because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and are now interested in coming back.”

Samborksi said she’s not aware of any other state making a concerted effort to recruit within the LGBT community.

Martin said it’s too early to tell if the recruiting efforts are translating into gays and lesbians enlistments in the guard. Though he said sexual orientation probably wouldn’t be tracked.  Still, the Guard does expect an eventual up-tick in its enlistment as a result of attending gay and lesbian events. 

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