First Formation welcomes new Soldiers into Kentucky’s ranks

By Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Bidwell, Kentucky Recruiting & Retention Command

Members of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade command staff place unit patches on the uniforms of the brigade's newest Soldiers during First Formation in Frankfort, Ky., Nov. 17, 2016. The patching ceremony is a highlight of the event which welcomes Soldiers fresh from basic training back to Kentucky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

Members of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade command staff place unit patches on the uniforms of the brigade’s newest Soldiers during First Formation in Frankfort, Ky., Nov. 17, 2016. The patching ceremony is a highlight of the event which welcomes Soldiers fresh from basic training back to Kentucky. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The short time since enlistment is a whirlwind for recruits aiming to become Soldiers. Upon enlistment, they are immersed into the world of the Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP), and in a few short months, a recruiter and the RSP cadre taught the skills and knowledge needed to succeed during Initial Active Duty Training. While at basic training, they put the skills learned in RSP to good use and upon completion of the training, earn the title of “Soldier”. Basic training completed, now ready to tackle AIT, where they learned the skills necessary to perform their chosen Military Occupational Specialty.

Now, a brand new private, standing in formation in front of the adjutant general and the state sergeant major. The brigade commander and sergeant major are standing by to put the unit patch on and welcome them to their team. Next month at drill, the new Soldiers will be doing the job they were trained to do and working alongside fellow Citizen-Soldiers in the Kentucky Army National Guard.

They have completed the first and most challenging steps in becoming the Soldier they have worked so hard to be and now, in recognition of this accomplishment, they are at their First Formation.

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As the newest Soldiers in the Kentucky Guard return home after completing their Initial Active Duty Training, they are welcomed to the team in a way. Since the inception of the RSP Program, these Soldiers would return to their RSP Drill sites and attend what was called Gold Phase, or battle hand off. The Soldiers say good-bye to the cadre and recruiters who worked with them through their time in the RSP program and they step off to become operating, functional members of their units.

“I learned a lot from basic training. This is going to give me better opportunities. Now I am applying for citizenship to become a U.S. citizen. I came out as a better person,” said Pvt. Gabrielle Rondina of the 138th Field Artillery Brigade. “I am on top of my game now and I am very active, where I used to just sit at home. Now I want to keep in shape.”

Over the past few months, these newly forged Soldiers have returned to attend First Formation. At the two-day event, the goal is to gather the Soldiers from across the state who are returning from AIT to ensure they are administratively and medically ready to be handed off to their parent units. The Soldiers will complete a physical health assessment, be issued the equipment required to perform in their MOS by the Central Issuing Facility, and receive an administrative review. The event culminates with a patching ceremony where the Soldiers are welcomed by the state senior leadership, their brigade leadership, and representatives from their units.

“I feel like I can do anything now after completing basic training,” said Pvt. Autumn Dunaway with the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade. “I am getting promoted today. I didn’t think that would be possible. It is bittersweet that I have even made it this far.”

The Recruiting & Retention RSP program has always worked hard to provide the units of the Kentucky Guard with Soldiers who have completed their initial training and are ready to perform as team members within the units. First Formation is the newest step in the mission of RSP, providing the warriors the needs to be successful.

“By taking the time to make sure these Soldiers are administratively correct, their military equipment is issued from CIF, and they’re current on their PHA, we feel like we are preparing the Soldier to hit the ground running,”  said Maj. Noy Boriboune, the Recruiting and Retention Battalion’s operations officer who oversees the program. “Also we are trying to assist the unit Readiness and Supply NCOs as they integrate the new Soldiers to their units.”

During the patching ceremony, the distinguished honor graduates and honor graduates from BCT and AIT are recognized by state leadership. All Soldiers among the First Formation attendees who are eligible are promoted during the ceremony as well. The highlight of the ceremony is when representatives from each of the state’s major commands place unit patches on the Soldiers’ left shoulders for the first time, solidifying the Soldier to the unit’s lineage.

“The patching ceremony is a great way to welcome the Soldiers to the Kentucky National Guard,” said Boriboune. “It really shows them their service to our country is appreciated from the top down.”

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