With the National Guard taking on more of an international role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, its soldiers say they're being recognized for their work, something that didn't always happen in the past.
Sergeant Major Richard Bogle is getting ready to retire from the Kentucky National Guard after over three decades in the organization.
He says: "A person joining the guard now can almost be assured that they're going to have some active duty time."
However, that wasn't always the case.
Sergeant Major Richard Bogle joined the Kentucky National Guard in 1966. He says he considered enlisting in the Army, but he had friends in the National Guard.
He says: "Their thought was to go ahead and join the guard. If you like it then you can join the Army, take it kind of like a sample."
Back then Sgt. Major Bogle says the National Guard dealt with domestic issues such as civil disturbances and natural disasters. He says: "At that time as a guard, we never saw ourselves pretty much as being mobilized or deploying, or going somewhere."
The Kentucky National Guard says during the Vietnam War, 570 Kentucky Guardsmen and 750 Kentucky Air Guardsmen were deployed overseas.
During the Persian Gulf War eight units totaling some 1,166 men and women were deployed.
From September 2001 to today nearly 8,000 National Guard soldiers from the Army and Air Guard combined have been deployed.
As of July 4, 1,382 Kentucky National Guard soldiers were mobilized and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sergeant Major Bogle says the terrorist attacks on September 11th changed the meaning of the National Guard.
He says: "Since that date we've seen a tremendous change in the Guard's involvement and the national defense and the overall role in the military."
Sgt. Major Bogle says the soldiers in the National Guard are now treated as equals with career soldiers.
He says: "By no comparison is there any difference between the National Guard and active duty soldiers."
Sgt. Major Bogle also says the view of the guard has also changed in the public's eye. He says: "Today the people may not support the war, but they support the soldiers and that's the biggest change I've seen."
For more information about the U.S. Army National Guard you can log onto www.1800goguard.com/home.html.