Article View
News | July 16, 2021

From Iraq to Vermont – One National Guardsman details his long road to military service

By Joshua Cohen A Co., 186th BSB, 86th IBCT (MTN)

For 24-year-old Vermont Army National Guard Specialist Ali Aljarah, military service means being prepared to deploy, “as the only way to protect and serve my country to help stop harm from being caused anywhere in the world.”

And the 88M Army Motor Transport Operator would know. In 2012 Aljarah, with his mother, father, brother and sister, emigrated to the US from Iraq, settling in Vermont.

Aljarah explained, “I’m from Bagdad, Iraq, it was not a safe environment to live in, especially having someone in your family who was assisting U.S. forces, even if you offer a U.S. Solider a bottle of water you are red flagged.”

He explained it was one such incident that resulted in the Aljarah families' decision to leave their homeland. “My family member who used to work with U.S. forces, militias did not like that, bombs were planted, after one traumatic event my family emigrated to the U.S. in 2012.”

Arriving in the U.S. at age 14, it would not take Aljarah long to decide he was going to serve in the military, “I started thinking about joining the Guard when I was 16.”

By age 22 Aljarah enlisted in the Vermont Army National Guard, attending basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri with mixed emotions. “At first, I did not like it, by the time I graduated I absolutely loved it, it was great, and I would do it all over again.”

Aljarah admitted basic training became easier, “once I started to understand things and why the drill instructors were doing them, even if it was hard training for me, it turned out good, the physical, mental and the resilience training, all these things are good.”

Aljarah added that, “if you understand why things are being done the way they are during basic training, and if you can understand the point the drill instructors are trying to make, and what they want you to learn, you will get an excellent outcome from the entire training evolution.”

After completing basic training Aljarah, “went next door for Advanced Individual Training, it was pretty good, it was not as intense as boot camp, a little easier phase that lasted seven weeks where students were brought together to work and learn as a team,” he said.

Aljarah is currently a member of Vermont National Guard’s 186th Brigade Support Battalion’s Alpha Company in Berlin.

“I love my unit, my chain of command, everyone is great, especially our unit NCO, Sergeant First Class James Kiel, he is great, he helps me with a lot of things just like he does for other soldiers. Even if he is off duty, I just text him, he responds and gets it done, such as any pay and papers work issues,” Aljarah said.

Aljarah considered full-time positions with the Guard, however, he is now in the process of bringing his wife, who still in Iraq, to the United States.

Aljarah said he intends to remain in the Guard and recently signed on for an additional four-year term, after completing just two of an initial three-year tour. “I’ve thought about going into intelligence, part of the reason I joined the military was to make it easier for the next generation to live around the world in peace and with respect.”

Vermont National Guard News
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John Hampson, an instructor at the U.S. Army Mountain Warfare School, gives a block of instruction on mountain casualty evacuation to French service members with the 5th Overseas Interarms Regiment (5e RIAOM) at the French Combat Training Center at Arta Beach, Djibouti, Dec. 14, 2021. Five instructors from the U.S. Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vt. taught a five-day Joint Expeditionary Mountain Warfare Course on basic military mountaineering skills to French service members in Djibouti to strengthen the relationships among the international forces working together in the region. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Stock)
Vermont Guardsman rescues three from a frozen lake on Christmas day
By Joshua Cohen | Jan. 11, 2022
Immediate action by Vermont National Guard Staff Sgt. John Hampson on Christmas Day, 2021, “very likely saved the lives of three people,” according to U.S. Navy Reserve Cmdr. Jordan Gottfried...

The Vermont National Guard has a new psychological health coordinator. In October 2021 Jordan Imhoff was hired for the position. Imhoff previously served as the Vermont National Guard alcohol and drug control officer in the Behavioral Services Office. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Joshua Cohen)
Meet Jordan Imhoff: Vermont Guard’s new psychological health coordinator
By Joshua Cohen | Jan. 6, 2022
The Vermont National Guard has a new psychological health coordinator. In October 2021 Jordan Imhoff was hired for the position. Imhoff previously served as the Vermont National Guard Alcohol and Drug Control Officer in the...

Command Sgt. Maj. Melinda Crosby, incoming command sergeant major for the 186th Brigade Support Batallion, 86th Infantry Combat Team (Mountain), speaks with her son, Marcus, prior to the change of responsibility ceremony in Northfield, Vermont, Dec. 4, 2021. Crosby succeeds Command Sgt. Maj. Allen King, who is retiring after 38 years of service. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Don Branum)
Newest 186th command sergeant major seeks to grow Soldiers’ potential
By Don Branum | Dec. 23, 2021
The newest command sergeant major for the 186th Brigade Support Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), might not have served beyond her first enlistment if not for a couple of non-commissioned officers who...

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Elijah Amendola, 1-102nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), Task Force Iron Gray, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), assists a French service member with the 5th Overseas Interarms Regiment (5e RIAOM) on fixed rope techniques at the Arta Range Complex, Djibouti, Dec. 15, 2021. Five instructors from the U.S. Army Mountain Warfare School in Jericho, Vermont, taught a five-day Joint Expeditionary Mountain Warfare Course on basic military mountaineering skills to French service members in Djibouti to strengthen the relationships among the international forces working together in the region.



(U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Stock)
Vermont Army Guard hosts mountain warfare course in Djibouti
By Staff Sgt. Amanda Stock, | Dec. 21, 2021
Five U.S. Army Mountain Warfare School instructors with the Vermont Army National Guard traveled to Djibouti to teach a five-day Joint Expeditionary Mountain Warfare Course to service members from France’s 5th Overseas...

U.S. Soldiers with the 172nd Cavalry Regiment, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Vermont National Guard, provide security for a traffic control point, in Washington, D.C., Jan 23, 2021. At least 25,000 National Guard men and women have been authorized to conduct security, communication and logistical missions in support of federal and District authorities leading up and through the 59th Presidential Inauguration. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Denis Nuñez)
The Vermont National Guard in 2021: Looking back on a busy year
By Joshua Cohen | Dec. 17, 2021
In 2021 the Vermont National Guard fully engaged both federal and state missions. Overseas deployments and Joint Task Force Coyote, a critical component of the State’s response to the COVID-19, resulted in a high operational...