Florida Fellows Learn About National Guard Straight From the Source

TALLAHASSEE – The Class V Florida Gubernatorial Fellows were “wheels up” by 0730, climbing aboard a C-23 Sherpa aircraft to visit our Florida National Guard at work. The group landed 50 minutes later in St. Augustine, where they met with military leaders and learned more about the Guard’s role during state emergencies, such as hurricanes.

Kelli Gebbia, executive director of the Florida Fellows, said the visit allows the state’s future leaders to better understand how key the Florida National Guard’s role is statewide throughout the year: “It’s investing in the future of the people who will be making the decisions that will affect the National Guard’s future for the next 10, 20, 30 years.”

The Fellows received a briefing from Major General Douglas Burnett, who is the Governor’s senior military advisor. The Governor is Commander in Chief of the Florida National Guard.

This was the third time a Fellows class has made the trip. It hits home with the Fellows “how much the Guard really does,” Gebbia said. “They now understand the involvement of the Guard in almost every county in the state.”

After the visit to the Joint Operations Center, the Fellows flew to the Guard’s Joint Training Center in Camp Blanding, near Starke.

Here, the Fellows witnessed troops preparing for deployment, observed live-fire exercises and even climbed into the 80 pounds of gear soldiers wear in some scenarios. It was an education they won’t soon forget.

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