Hokanson: Why We Do What We Do

Hokanson: Why We Do What We Do

Army helicopter
Photo by: U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Joseph Morgan

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the 29th chief of the National Guard Bureau, delivered an upbeat message to the force about why National Guard members and their missions are vitally important.

Speaking in Reno, Nevada, at the 2023 conference of the National Guard Association of the United States, Hokanson said it is worth stopping for a moment to recognize why men and women serve in the National Guard.

“We don’t always talk about why—why we wear this uniform, why do we deploy our formations overseas, why do we train, why do we serve and why do we give up our most valuable asset, our time, for something greater than ourselves,” Hokanson said.

The simple fact, he said, is the National Guard’s missions—at home and around the world—are important. “Your impact is bigger than you’d imagine,” Hokanson said.

“We serve because there is a calling inside each and every one of us to really make a difference,” he said. “We seek challenges, wanting to do more, learn more and be more. We are driven by an innate internal force to do something good.”

Hokanson added that a person’s character “plays a fundamental role in who you are and who you become. It is something you must hold with the utmost regard. It dictates not only how others view you, but, even more importantly, how you view yourself.”

“Ultimately, your character determines what you do when it counts the most,” he said. “When faced with a crisis, some people freeze, unsure of what to do. Some people flee, running away from the danger. Some people fight back. A rare special few fight for the lives of others.”

“That’s what being a Guardsman is all about,” he said, citing countless times in the last year when National Guard members have responded to help others.

“We all have reasons to serve. We have reasons we drill, reasons we train, reasons we leave our civilian jobs and our loved ones behind,” Hokanson said. “We have reasons we strive and sacrifice, and reasons we wake up the next day and choose to do it all over again.”

“We serve because this profession of arms offers untold opportunity to everybody ready to learn it,” he said. “We serve because there is no better feeling than your family’s arms around you when you return from deployment. We serve because at the end of the day, someone has to stand up and do the right things for our families, for our communities, for our nation and for our world.”